How to: Set Up Parental Controls on Your Computer

Parental controls are a good way for parents to protect young children from the dangers of the Internet, as well as monitoring their computer usage. . It is important to have some type of protection on your computer because it can prevent a world of problems for you personally and with your computer. One wrong click or download can infect your equipment beyond repair and allow tenured hackers to steal personal information and damage your software.  You can also set up parental controls that will also monitor your child’s activity online so that you are fully aware of where they are going and if they are talking to strangers.In this article, we will look at 4 popular platforms that children use and how to set up parental controls on these platforms.


Parental controls on Windows 7 / XP

Parental controls on the computer gives parents the power to do the following:

  • Control the number of hours your child can spend on the computer
  • Monitor the programs and games that they can access
  • Filter the websites your child can visit (possible if you download and install Windows Live Family Safety)

An actual step-by-step guide by Microsoft can be found here.


Parental controls on Google

As the world’s biggest search engine, Google can be used as a powerful tool for kids to learn the meanings of new words. It is not uncommon for a child to hear a new word from school and search for its meaning at home. However, not all words should be learned by kids, especially when they have not reached the appropriate age. This is why setting up parental controls on Google becomes necessary.

Below is a video that shows you how to activate and lock SafeSearch on your account. With SafeSearch locked, certain words and phases will be filtered and your child will not be able to see their results.

However, locking SafeSearch is not fullproof. If your child knows how to clear your browser cache, then locking SafeSearch using the above method will not work. In such cases, I recommend that you download and install SafeSearchLock. It is an application that will help lock search settings on major search engines and web platforms, while overcoming this problem of your child clearing the browser cache. Here is a video of how it works.


Parental controls on Facebook

Children below the age of 13 are not supposed to have a Facebook account but unfortunately that is not the case in reality. If your child has a Facebook account, then you must learn how to set up his or her privacy settings so that he or she is well protected from strangers.

Step 1: Log in to your child’s Facebook account. At the top right corner, click on the arrow → Privacy Settings.


Step 2: On the Privacy Settings page, go through the different sections and click “Edit Settings” to change who can see your child’s various activity on Facebook. The best default setting to start with is “Friends”, and you can customize the settings even further.

  • How You Connect: control who can befriend your child and send messages to them.
  • Timeline and Tagging: control who can see posts and photos that tag your child.
  • Ads, Apps and Websites: see what apps and games your child has been using, and control the way these apps use your child’s information.
  • Limit the Audience for Past Posts: if your child’s previous posts were shared with anyone other than their friends, this will change the privacy of all previous posts to “Friends”.
  • Blocked People and Apps: this is very useful in preventing cyber bullying. You and your child can use it to block users who are making him/her feel uncomfortable.

It is important to note that Facebook privacy settings for minors (18 and below) are slightly different to help protect their safety. You can read more about these differences here.


Parental controls on YouTube

While YouTube contains a wealth of educational videos, it can potentially show your child related videos which are inappropriate. YouTube has a useful Safety Mode feature that is similar to Google (no surprise there as YouTube is owned by Google). Below is a video showing you how to enable Safety Mode so that it is safe for you child to browse and view YouTube videos.

Remember, even with all these parental controls, there is no substitute for parental supervision and guidance of your child’s computer and Internet usage. Make sure your child understands why and how he/she should stay safe online, as well as the importance of respecting others in cyberspace.


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Pat Milton
Pat Milton

I use Qustodio instead, a free and yet fully-featured parental control application that allows me to block harmful sites on my daughter's computer as also keeps me informed about what she downloads or who she talks to on social media sites like Facebook. It allows me to view the profile pictures of the accounts and so I know whether she is engaging with the right people or not.

Brooke T
Brooke T

Thanks for the recommendation, Pat!


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