Microsoft Family Safety on Windows 8

Before I get started, yes, I admit it. I am quite a Microsoft fanboy. Apart from Internet Explorer, of course. But for me to put pen to paper and sing their praises publicly means that I really like something.

Last night, I created a user account on my Windows 8 machine for my daughter. “Is this account for a child” it asked me. Yes, I answered, not sure what would happen.

It then prompted me to switch on Family Safety for the account, and the options in there blew me away … utterly fantastic work Microsoft.

Some of the options given to me, in no particular order:

  • Amount of time allowed logged in by day of the week
  • Curfew times (e.g. no use between 7pm and 8am, a bit later on a weekend)
  • Categorised Internet safety filter (e.g. child only sites, general interest excluding adult sites, social media)
  • An explicit whitelist of Internet sites
  • An explicit blacklist of Internet sites
  • Restricting installed games from the app store based upon their rating (e.g. 3+, 12+, 18+)
  • On / off control for every individual application installed on my PC
  • Ability to prevent all downloads of files from the Internet

What’s more, whenever my daughter tries to run an app she doesn’t have permission for, she is prompted to send me a request to authorise the application. If I’m sat with her (which I pretty much always am), then I can enter my password and approve it there and then.

Don’t get me wrong … no set of Internet safety filters should ever be a replacement for good parenting and adequate supervision, but this is as good a toolset as I’ve seen. In particular, categorisation of games and websites relies on good curation be someone somewhere who I don’t necessarily trust, or have the same moral values as them.

As an extra safeguard, what my daughter does online is all logged, and I can review it from within the Users section of the control panel should I wish.

I feel pretty confident of letting my daughter online now, even if I need to leave her side for a few minutes.