It’s a feature: Family Safety’s Activity Report in Windows 10

Ever since Windows 10 was released to the general public, there has been a concerted effort to discredit the operating system and Microsoft. This release has been the target of those who believe that their privacy has been compromised and that Microsoft is collecting all it can on them.  While a few of the default settings should not have been set to be the default, there is nothing nefarious going on and the latest release of Windows is no more invasive than any previous release of Windows or the Mac OS for that matter. 

Now, these people have taken aim at one of the better features of WIndows for children: the Family Safety feature. 

win10famsafeSomeone discovered that a report is generated that contains things like web sites visited, applications used and how long and computer usage. The report is emailed to the parent or person who set up the family safety.

Sorry, people, this feature has been in family safety from day one. It was in Vista. It was in Windows 7 and both releases of Windows 8. Nothing new about it.

Yep, this report is integral to the feature. It does spy on the child, that is the point.  It lets the parent know what the child is doing and how long they are doing it.  I, for one, am glad it is there.  I’ve used this feature since the Vista days. Only, then, instead of emailing, it would pop up a notification in Windows that the report is ready. 

So, obviously, the people complaining about this feature have never used family safety and, likely, do not have children.

I do not see problem with this feature and have utilized it in the past and will do so again. I have two more children that I want to be safe on the Internet and whom I don’t want on the computer 24/7.  So, to those who oppose this feature, I say, go find something worthwhile to complain about, like the high price of cell service, gasoline or other such product.  Windows 10 is awesome, family safety is awesome.

Note:

Family Safety has changed with Windows 10 and will be doing a new write up on the feature at a later date.

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Windows 8 Family Safety: parental controls are your friend

Since Windows Vista, Microsoft has included a fairly robust parental control mechanism in the operating system. Vista’s parental controls were fantastic, but were neutered when Microsoft rolled out Windows 7. They required the installation of Windows Live Essentials in order to work. Microsoft left the door open for third party parental control mechanisms, but few, if any, hit the market. With Windows 8, however, they restored the functionality that was removed and enhanced the overall package.

Now called ‘Family Safety’, the Windows 8 parental controls are much more granular and offer the added benefit of being able to monitor your child’s computer activity via the web (which was one nice thing they did add with Windows 7.)

In order to work, however, you must setup an account on the computer. You can setup a Microsoft Account or a local account. For my purposes, and for this post, we will use a local account.

famsettings1To setup a local account, bring up the settings charm. Tap the lower right corner and swipe up for touch, or hover the mouse in the same corner and when the charms display, go up and click the settings charm. Next, tap or click ‘Change PC settings’.

You will see the Settings page display. Tap or click the Usersfamsettings2b link. On the right side, you will see YOUR current account information. Toward the bottom of the page, there is a link for adding a new user. Tap or click that link.

The next page will ask for the Windows Account email address for the new user.  Since we are using a local account, tap or click the link that says ‘Sign in without a Microsoft Account’. famsettings3a

Next, you are presented with a page where you fill in the user’s famsettings4aname and password information. For my five year old, I leave the password blank. There is a checkbox that indicates this is child’s account. Check it. This sets up the safety ratings in the games and applications as well as the web sites. Once you have setup the new user account, you are ready for the real meat and potatoes: the family settings page.

From the Windows 8 Start Page, type FAMILY SAFETY. As you start typing, Windows initiates the search. You will see that SETTINGS will return a few hits.famsettings5 Tap or click the ‘Setup Family Safety for any User’ link.

You are now whisked away to a nice, Windows Desktop app. You will leave the comfort of the Windows App/Metro/Store/Modern UI world. That’s OK, it’s worth the discomfort.

famsettings7Once in the Family Safety application, you can control the time your child can use the computer, how long, what apps and games and where they can go on the internet. Plus, it all gets recorded for you.

 

 

TIME

You can set a curfew, which governs when the computer can be used. Setting it is a snap: it is a grid that you click or tap each block to allow or block time. famsettings7time

You can control how much time is allowed during the allowed time frame:

famsettings7time2

WEB USE

You can allow or disallow websites:famsettings8

The web filtering further restricts sites by category: child safe, general interest, adult, etc. By using this in conjunction with the Allow or block specific websites, your child should be protected and prevented from going anywhere you do not wish them to go.famsettings8b

You can also prevent them from downloading anything. While it won’t completely prevent viruii and other nastiness, it should go a long way to help.

 

GAMES, STORE, APPS

famsettings9aPerhaps the best part of the family safety mechanism is the ability to control what games and apps can be run by the child. In addition, you can control which non-Windows 8 applications can be run. The mechanism does rely on the ESRB ratings system, however, for those games that are NOT ESRB rated, you can prevent them from running all together or allow only certain ones to run.

 

 

CONCLUSION

The best thing you can do is to go exploring. This post was not intended to be an in depth how to, rather more of an introduction to this important aspect of Windows 8.  I encourage you to also check out my other posts on this subject as well as the official Windows 8 site. If you have young children, setting up an account and then protecting it is the best thing you can do for your child, your sanity and the computer.