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User Accounts and Parental Controls in Windows Vista

If you have the whole family using one computer then chances are each member requires a different type of access to the family PC. This is where different user accounts can be configured for different PC activity via the Parental Control settings in the Windows Vista operating system.

You can create an account for each user through the Control Panel by clicking on "Start" and going to the Control Panel and clicking on "Add or Remove User Accounts." Windows will then walk you through the process of setting up an account for each of your family members and you can identify the accounts by each person's name if you wish.

Parental Controls

After you set up a user account for each family member, you can set the parental controls according to the activity of each user. For example, if you have younger children, you can place restrictions on their account that are appropriate for their age by filtering out certain types of websites and other Web activity. The Internet filter feature contains a list of configurations for allowing and disallowing websites, blocking downloads, and restricting other types of activity.

Time Limits

This control allows you to set time limits for each PC user. You can customize this configuration for each individual account to include certain times for logging in and making the computer available only during certain times when you are home. When the time you set has expired the computer automatically logs off the account.

Specific Programs

You can set the parental controls to restrict specific programs from being run on the computer with a click of the mouse button. For example, if you have a small child using the computer, you may want to limit them to programs that they routinely use and restrict access to other programs that are inappropriate for that age group. If you have an older child who uses the computer for more purposes such as school work, entertainment, and chatting, you could allow access to those programs but restrict them from using some of your personal programs.

Limit Games

A lot of computer games contain subject matter that is inappropriate for younger family members. The games option on the parental controls will prevent members of your family from downloading inappropriate games. It also has a feature where you can control the type of subject matter that can be restricted in game downloads.

Activity Reporting

If you cannot be there to monitor your children's activity on the computer, Windows Vista provides activity reporting where you can view the websites that were visited, downloads, emails, chat conversations, and any changes that have been made to the computer.

Although you take the necessary measures at home to keep your child safe, they still have access to other computers. Make sure you talk to the younger family members about computer safety and make sure they understand why you are restricting their access.

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Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

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Use alternative web browsers and email software.