If your child is going to start using your home computer or you’re buying him his first computer, then you must get started with Microsoft family on Windows 10. It brings powerful parental controls that help monitor your child’s digital activities including the apps and websites they can use/visit and setting up time limits to prevent long-time computer usage.
Microsoft family works with your Microsoft accounts and comes with an “activity reporting” feature that sends you weekly reports on your child’s activities directly to your inbox. It looks superbly useful, right?
Alright then, let’s see how you can get started with Microsoft family and set up parental controls on Windows 10.
Log in to Microsoft family
Microsoft family is a service that connects family members and provides kids with a safe environment while using Windows 10 and Xbox One devices as well as Android devices running Microsoft Launcher. Moreover, you can schedule events on your family calendar and set up group family chat on Skype.
Follow these steps to set up your Microsoft family:
- Open the Start menu and click the Settings icon.
- Click on Accounts, then go to “Family & other people” from the left.
- Click “Sign in with a Microsoft account” under “Your family”, and log in with your Microsoft account (or create if you do not have one).
Create member accounts
You can add distinct user accounts for your family members in Windows 10, allowing you to provide them relevant permissions per requirements. Then after, you can connect them all to your account with the Microsoft family.
You can add an adult account to monitor activities, manage requests and family settings as well as change settings of the children’s accounts.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Click the link “Add a Family Member” under “Your family”.
- Now opt for “Add an adult” in the “Add a child or an adult?” dialog window.
- Type the email address of the child’s Microsoft account, then click Next. If your child does not have a Microsoft account, please ask him to create an account and then do this step.
You can create a child account that will work under the parental controls set by you using the features in Microsoft family. This account will help you keep your child safe and set a time limit for their computer activities. Moreover, you can monitor their online activities by signing up for a weekly report.
- Click the option “Add a Family Member” under “Your Family”.
- Choose “Add a child” in the “Add a child or an adult?” dialog.
- Enter your child’s email address or click “The person I want to add doesn’t have an email address” if your child does not have an email address, and finally, click Next to create one for him/her.
- Finally, confirm the name and email address if asked.
Note: Once your child logs in to his email account, he must accept the invitation to join your Microsoft family, else you will not be able to control his account.
Set-up parental controls
Once you are done with adding accounts for your children, you can see them as a list under “Family & other people” in the Settings. Let’s see how can manage the parental controls on your Windows 10 PC:
- Open Settings, click Accounts and then go to “Family & other people” on the left.
- Under “Family & other people”, click on the link “Manage family settings online” to open the Microsoft family’s configuration page.
- On the Microsoft family’s website, you will see all your family members listed under “Your family” along with the options to manage them.
- Under your child’s account, you will see Activity, Screen time, Content restrictions, and more options including time limits.
You can check out the Activity tab (under Family section of your Microsoft account) to keep a track on your child’s activities including his apps and games uses, web searches, and more. The activity list is organized under headings to help you quickly browse them at your convenience.
Moreover, you can change the restrictions on apps and games or websites he/she uses/visits — click the “Change restrictions” on top-right of a section to change the set limits for the given activity.
What I find interesting is that you can also opt-in to get a weekly report directly to your inbox. Follow the below steps to get activity reports in your mailbox:
- After you log in to Microsoft account, click Family on the top right, then select your child’s account from the family members list.
- Under Activity, click on Manage.
- Toggle on “Activity reporting” to collect and track your child’s activities.
- Turn on “Email weekly reports to me” to receive activity reports via email.
You can limit your child’s access to the computer from the “Screen time” tab. If your child tries to access it outside the time window you set, he/she will not be able to log into their account, thus denying them access to the computer.
Let’s see how you can configure your child’s on-screen time:
- Switch to the “Screen time” tab present next to Activity.
- Under “Screen time that’s simple“, turn on the option “Use one screen time schedule” to set a schedule for all his devices.
- Then configure the allowed time using the drop-down “Hours allowed” for each day under “Screen time schedule for all devices”. You can choose “Blocked” from the drop-down to deny access entirely on any day.
- Alternatively, you can click on a day’s timetable to schedule an access period for each day, under which, your child can access the system.
You can restrict websites, blacklist or whitelist websites, and limit the access to apps, games, and media as well. Moreover, you can turn on restrictions for online purchases through Microsoft Store and receive emails for them too.
Follow the below steps to enable content restrictions:
- Click on the “Content restrictions” tab.
- Under “Ask a parent“, turn on “Needs adult approval to buy things” to block him from making purchases on Microsoft Store.
- Under “Ask a parent“, toggle on “Email me when my child gets stuff” to receive email updates for purchases made by your child.
- Under “Apps, games and media“, turn on “Block inappropriate apps, games & media” to block the unfit apps and games.
- Select one of the options in the dropdown named “Allow apps and games rated for” to a set a content rating for your child.
- Under “Web browsing“, click on “Block inappropriate websites” to block adult content and enable SafeSearch on the default browser. You can allow a website by entering it in “Add a website you want to allow” and block a website by adding it in “Add a website you want to block“.
- You can turn the allowed websites into whitelisted sites, i.e., allow only these sites by checking the option “Only allow these websites“.
To sum it up
Microsoft family is one of the best parental control tools one can come across — especially if you are looking for a free solution. Though it works just with apps from Microsoft, it is worth a try if you are using a Windows 10 PC.
How was your experience setting up your Microsoft family? Which is the best feature in Microsoft family per your experience? Please leave a comment below and write to me directly at @aksinghnet on Twitter to share feedback.