Microsoft Family Safety: How To Set Up Parental Controls in Windows

Control and Monitor Your Child’s Computer Usage with Parental Controls

Microsoft offers parental controls to help keep children safe when they use the family computer. Configure these controls to restrict what kinds of applications they can use, what websites they are allowed to visit, and how much time they can spend on the computer and other Windows-based devices. After parental controls are set, you can access detailed reports of their activity. 

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Enable Windows 10 Parental Controls

To use the most recent Windows Parental Controls and Microsoft Family Safety features, both you and your child need a Microsoft Account (not a local one). Although you can get a Microsoft account for your child before you configure available parental controls in Windows 10, it’s simpler and more straightforward get the account during the configuration process. Whatever you decide, follow these steps to get started.

Parental Controls, as outlined here, are only applied when the child logs in to a Windows device using their own Microsoft Account. These settings will not prevent what they do on their friends’ computers, school computers, or their Apple or Android devices, or when they access a computer under someone else’s account (even your account).

  1. Select Start and choose Settings. Windows Settings will open.

    Screenshot of Settings in Windows 10 Start menu
  2. Select Accounts. The Accounts window will open.

    Screenshot of Accounts in Windows Settings
  3. In the left pane, select Family & Other Users. The Family & Other Users window will open.

    Screenshot of Family & Other Users in Accounts window
  4. Select Add a Family Member if your child does not have a separate account on your device. A Microsoft Account window will pop up.

    Screenshot of Add a Family Member in Family & Other Users window
  5. Select Add a Child and then choose The Person I Want To Add Doesn’t Have An Email Address. (If they do have an email address, type it. Then skip to Step 6.)

    Screenshot of Add a Child option in Microsoft Account window
  6. In the Let’s Create An Account dialog box, type the required information including an email account, password, country, and birth date.

    Screenshot of Create Account page
  7. Select Next. Choose Confirm if prompted.

    Screenshot of Next on Microsoft account creation window
  8. Read the information offered (what you see here depends on what you selected in Step 5), and choose Close.

If you obtained a Microsoft Account for your child during the process above, you’ll notice that the child has been added to your list of family members in Windows Settings and that the status is Child. Parental controls are already enabled using the most common settings, and the account is ready to use. Have the child log on to their account while connected to the internet to complete the process.

If you input an existing Microsoft Account during the process above, you’ll be prompted to log on to that account and follow the directions in the invitation email. In this case, the status for the account will say Child, Pending. The child will need to log on while connected to the internet to complete the setup process. You might also need to apply family safety settings manually, but this depends on several factors. Read the next section to learn how to determine if controls are set or not.

Find, Change, Enable, or Disable Parental Controls (Windows 10)

There’s a fair chance that the default Windows Family Safety controls are already turned on for your child’s account, but it’s good practice to verify this and to see if they meet your needs. To review the setting, configure, change, enable, or disable them, or to enable reporting for a Microsoft Account:

  1. Select Start > Settings > Accounts > Family & Other People, and then choose Manage Family Settings Online.

    Alternatively, type family into the search box next to Start. Select Family Options and then choose View Family Settings.

    Screenshot of Manage family settings online link in Family & Other Users
  2. Log in if prompted, and then locate the child account from the list of accounts included with your family.

    Screenshot of Family page on Microsoft website
  3. Select Screen Time below your child's name to open the Screen Time tab. Make changes to the default Screen Time Settings using the drop-down lists and daily timelines.

    Screenshot of Screen Time tab in Microsoft parental controls
  4. Select More Options under your child's name and choose Content Restrictions.

    Screenshot of Content Restrictions
  5. Make sure Block Inappropriate Apps And Games and Block Inappropriate Websites are enabled. Add any apps or websites you wish to block or allow and select an appropriate age rating.

    Screenshot of Content Restrictions tab
  6. Select the Activity tab and expand Manage. Select Turn On Activity Reporting and Email weekly reports to me to get weekly reports of your child’s activities while online.

    To block inappropriate websites and receive web browsing activity reports, your child must use Edge or Internet Explorer. You can block other browsers.

    Screenshot of Activity tab
  7. Continue to explore other settings as desired.

Windows 8 and 8.1 Parental Controls

To enable Parental Controls in Windows 8 and 8.1, you first need to create an account for your child. You do this in PC Settings. Then, from Control Panel, you configure the desired settings for that child account.

  1. From the keyboard, hold down the Windows key and press C.

  2. Select Change PC Settings.

  3. Select Accounts, choose Other AccSelect ounts, and then select Add An Account.

  4. Select Add A Child’s Account.

  5. Follow the prompts to complete the process, opting to create a Microsoft Account over a local account if possible.

To configure Parental Controls:

  1. Open Control Panel. You can search for it from the Start screen or from the Desktop.

  2. Select User Accounts And Family Safety, then choose Set Up Parental Controls For Any User.

  3. Select the child’s account.

  4. Under Parental Controls, choose Enforce Current Settings.

  5. Under Activity Reporting, choose Collect Information About PC Usage.

  6. Select the links provided for the following options and configure as desired:

    • Web Filtering to block certain websites and prevent downloads
    • Time Limits to choose when and on what days your child can access the PC
    • Windows Store and Game Restrictions to set age, title, and rating limits on the apps your child can use
    • App Restrictions to set the apps that your child can use
  7. You’ll receive an email that includes information about the Microsoft Family Safety login page and what’s available there. If you use a Microsoft Account for your child you’ll be able to view activity reports and make changes online, from any computer.

Windows 7 Parental Controls

Configure Parental Controls in Windows 7 from Control Panel, in a similar manner to what’s outlined above for Windows 8 and 8.1. You’ll need to create a child account for the child in Control Panel > User Accounts > Give Other Users Access To This Computer. Work through the process as prompted.

With that done:

  1. Select the Start button and type Parental Controls in the search window.

  2. Select Parental Controls in the results.

  3. Select the child account.

  4.  If prompted, create passwords for any Administrator accounts.

  5. Under Parental Controls, select Enforce Current Settings.

  6. Select the following links and configure settings as applicable and then choose Close: Time Limits, Games, and Allow And Block Specific Programs.