How to Setup Parental Controls on a Windows Computer
Navigating the digital world can be tricky for kids. The internet is a double-edged sword, serving valuable educational resources on the one hand and posing risks like explicit content on the other. Parental controls help you strike a balance, allowing your child to explore safely.
Parental controls let you filter content, set screen time limits, and track activities to create a safer digital environment. It's not about prying; it's about protecting. Here's your step-by-step guide to setting these controls up on a Windows 10 and11 PC.
What are parental controls?
Parental controls allow you to monitor and restrict what your child can see and do online. They put you in control of what content your child can see. Think of it like a digital fence offering protection against:
- Types of content they can access.
- Who they can interact with.
- Screen time limits.
- Unauthorized purchases.
From blocking risky sites to setting digital curfews, parental controls help you build a secure online playground for your kids.
How to set parental controls on Windows 10 and 11
Take control of your family's screen time with Microsoft Family Safety, a free app compatible with:
- Windows 10 and 11
- iOS (limited features)
It's ideal for parents looking for help with:
- Web content and search filtering.
- Screen time restrictions.
- App monitoring.
- Live location tracking.
- Managing purchase permissions.
Microsoft Family Group is a seamless way to set up and manage parental controls across all your Windows devices. From one easy-to-use dashboard, you can create child accounts, track online behaviors, and set digital ground rules. It's your all-in-one remote for a safer family online experience. Here's how to sign up.
1) Establish group roles in Microsoft Family Safety
Inside the Microsoft Family Safety app, you'll set up a family group consisting of two separate roles:
- Family Organizers: Think of these as the group admins. They can add members, set screen time limits, and check activity reports.
- Family Members: These accounts, often for kids, share crucial data with organizers—like location or screen time.
Get the ball rolling by inviting everyone you want to monitor to join your online family. You can invite up to 6 family members to sign up via email or phone, requiring them to have a Microsoft account.
2) Create a family group with members of Microsoft Family Safety
Setting up your family group is the first step in establishing a digitally secure environment for your kids. You want to set yourself up as a Family Organizer so you can manage parental controls and view activity reports. Here's how to do it, either via the web or the mobile app:
- Go to family.microsoft.com.
- Click Get started for free. Sign into or create a new Microsoft account to begin using parental controls.
- Select Create a family group.
- Click Add a family member to add your family members to your family group.
- Enter their phone number or email address. Click Next.
- Decide the family member's role (Member or Organizer), then click Next > Invite.
- You've sent an invitation to join your family group. The recipient receives an email that prompts them to sign into their Microsoft account to accept and join the family group.
Family Safety app
- Download the Microsoft Family Safety app from Google Play or Apple App Store.
- Hit Get Started and log in or set up a Microsoft account.
- Scroll down to tap Add a family member.
- Enter your family member's phone number or email address and tap Next.
- Choose the family member's role (Member or Organizer). Tap Invite to family group.
- Follow the prompts to link devices and set up Family Safety features.
3) Device-specific setup
- Universal syncing: Microsoft Family Safety syncs time limits for games and apps across multiple platforms: Windows, Xbox, and Android. Limitation alert: iOS doesn't work.
- Web and search filters: Work well on Microsoft Edge, whether you're on a Windows PC, Xbox, or Android device. If you turn on Filter inappropriate websites, it will block other browsers from functioning.
- Windows accounts: Ensure your child doesn't have admin rights on their Windows account. If they do, they can install whatever apps they like, dodging your controls.
- Android lockdown: You need to physically get your hands on their Android phone to grant the necessary permissions. Also, set a strong password for settings and deactivate the Guest account; otherwise, your kid can defeat parental controls.
- iOS limitations: The app doesn't do app blocking or web filtering on iOS. But location tracking? It's got that—switch your location settings to Always Allow.
Tighten the reins across multiple devices with these guidelines for cross-platform parental control.
4) Limit web browsing with Windows SafeSearch.
Establishing internet boundaries is crucial to protect your family from inappropriate web content. You can configure SafeSearch to block inappropriate websites and images, making the web safer for your kids. Plus, it features an AI-curated list of educational sites, perfect for homework and academic projects.
Reminder: For all these features to work, ensure everyone uses Microsoft Edge and signs in with their Microsoft accounts. Other browsers won't work by default.
- Sign in: Head to family.microsoft.com and log into your Family Safety account.
- Select family member: Pick the family member's profile you want to safeguard. Your child's account is on the right of yours.
- Access content filters: Activate the Filter Inappropriate Websites toggle.
- Handpick sites: Use the Only use allowed websites toggle to have a say in what gets seen.
- Promote learning: Enable Always allow educational websites to access AI-curated educational content.
- Refine the list: Add undesired URLs to Blocked Sites and preferred ones to Allowed sites.
Family Safety App
- Open app: Launch the Microsoft Family Safety app.
- Select member: Tap your family member's name, then go to Content filters.
- Web control: Toggle on Filter inappropriate websites.
- Tailor access: Flip the Only use allowed websites toggle.
- Study support: Turn on Always allow educational websites for school needs.
- Specify sites: Add bad URLs under Blocked Sites, and good ones under Allowed sites.
5) Screen time controls
Use screen time limits to keep tabs on your child's device use and set app or game limits. The feature syncs data from all devices linked to your child's account. Limits can be as specific as you want - use a different daily schedule or the same one weekly.
How to Set Limits
- Navigate to Microsoft Family Safety in your app or on the web.
- Select Screen time to set screen time limits.
- Toggle Use one schedule on all devices to set a universal multi-device schedule. Or, choose Turn limits on to set device-specific limits.
- Pick a day to set time ranges and total hours allowed.
- Set limits, define active hours, and click Done.
6) Block inappropriate apps and games
Control which apps and games your child can access by setting age-appropriate content filters. You can also safelist certain apps, overriding the age restrictions.
How to filter content
- Head to Microsoft Family Safety, either in-app or online.
- Locate your child's profile and select Content Filters.
- Navigate to Apps and Games and set an age limit under Allow apps and games rated for.
- To unblock specific apps or games, add them to the Always allowed list in Content Filters.
This way, you can tailor the digital environment to be fun and safe for your child.
7) Control Microsoft Store purchases
Prevent unexpected bills by managing your child's purchases in the Microsoft Store. You decide what they can buy—or if they can buy at all.
Enable Ask to Buy to prevent your child from making unauthorized purchases.
- Go to Microsoft Family Safety via the app or web.
- Find your child's name, and then select More options > Spending.
- Switch on the Needs organizer approval to buy things toggle.
- Approve or deny their requests through your email by toggling Email me when they get stuff.
Enjoy peace of mind knowing you won't find any surprise charges on your next bill.
8) Access Family Options from Windows Settings
- You don't even have to open a browser for a quick way to the Family Options page. Get there right from your Windows settings.
How to find Family Options
- Type Family Options in the Windows search bar.
- Click on View family settings when it pops up.
This takes you straight to the Family Options page, making managing your family's online safety easier without the detours.
Your guide to empowering digital parenting is complete. For extra tips, check out our guide on setting parental controls on various devices or Windows 10 and Xbox. Tighten those digital reins and give your kids the freedom to explore safely.
Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.