Introducing Windows 8: How to Enable or Disable Family Safety

The Internet is not only home to viruses and spyware, it can also house other threats in the form of child predators or objectionable material that could potentially lead your children to harm. Until your children are old enough to understand the risks of Internet usage, you’ll want to make sure they aren’t doing anything unsafe. Windows 8’s Family Safety features give you the tools you need to monitor their usage, block them from harmful material and even limit how long they spend in front of the computer. In this first article I will share what’s required for enabling Family Safety, how to activate it on the Windows 8 computer used by your child and how to deactivate it when it is no longer useful.

What You Need for Activating Family Safety in Windows 8

Before you get started with Family Safety, you’ll need to make sure you are set up to do it. In order to set up and get the most out of this service, you (as a parent) will need a Microsoft account with administrator privileges. Your child’s user account must not be an administrator account but a standard account. His/her account can be both a Microsoft account or a local account. If you want to learn about the differences between them, read this tutorial: Introducing Windows 8: Should You Use a Local Account or a Microsoft Account?.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you are using the proper user accounts, you’ll need to check the Control Panel. Go to Control Panel -> User Accounts and Family Safety -> User Accounts.

You will see a set of links to different settings for your account. On the right, you’ll want to see the word Administrator beneath your account name. Being an administrator is essential, while using a Microsoft account is only needed if you want to be able to use Family Safety’s online management and reporting features.

If you, as a parent, have a standard account, you need to elevate your privileges. Click your account and click or tap "Change your account type."

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety
You’ll need to provide an administrator password to elevate your account privileges, in the UAC prompt that shows up. Then, select Administrator and click or tap "Change Account Type."

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

As mentioned before, you’ll also need to make sure that your child’s account is a standard account. You can’t monitor and block a fellow administrator with Family Safety. When trying to enable Family Safety, you will receive a message saying: "Family Safety can’t monitor an administrator account".

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

You can change your child’s user account to a standard user account by pressing Yes.

How to Activate Windows 8 Family Safety on a New Account

The first step in protecting your children on the computer is activating Family Safety. If you haven’t yet created an account for your child, follow the procedure described in this article: Introducing Windows 8: How to Create a New User Account.

Make sure that you select "Is this a child’s account?" at the last step in the account creation process. This is the most efficient way to get Family Safety running.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

Keep in mind that your child’s account can be either a local or Microsoft account, but as a parent, you’ll need to sign in with a Microsoft account with Administrator privileges in order to take full advantage of Family Safety.

How to Activate Windows 8 Family Safety on an Existing Account

If your child already has an account on your computer, you can activate Family Safety from the Control Panel. The fastest way to get to the appropriate page is to search for family on the Start screen and click or tap Settings below the search box, to filter the results.

Select either Family Safety or "Set up Family Safety for any user" from the results list. Both options take you to the right place.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

Click or tap your child’s account from the list to select it.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

Then, select On for both Family Safety and Activity Reporting. You’ll now be able to configure other safety features for your child’s account from this page.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety
On the bottom of the page you’ll see a list of available Family Safety features. You can use them to choose what sort of sites you child can view, what apps they can play and how long they can use the computer.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

We will cover all these filtering and monitoring features in detail, in future articles.

How to Disable Family Safety in Windows 8

To turn off Family Safety, you need to open the Family Safety window, using the procedure mentioned earlier in the article. Then, select your child’s user account.

At the top of the Family Safety window, change the Family Safety setting from "On, enforce current settings" to Off.

Windows 8 - How to Enable Family Safety

Family Safety is now turned off for your child’s user account and he or she can use the computer without any limitations or monitoring from your part.

Conclusion

As you can see, Windows 8’s Family Safety is simple to enable and it gives you plenty of control options over your child’s account. Without having to install any third-party programs you can enable web filters, block objectionable games and programs and even enforce limits on the amount of time your child can use the computer. This can give you peace of mind so you don’t have to look over your child’s shoulder every moment they’re online.