Education in the 21st Century

Guest blog post by

Sofia Rasmussen

As computer technology becomes more advanced and complex, consumer computers used by families have become increasingly user-friendly. It no longer takesan online doctorate to understand the ins and outs of web browsing. A child can also now easily use high power computers with ease. Thankfully, tools for parents to keep their families safe online are also becoming more convenient and plentiful, with recent advances on both both Windows 7 and Mac OS X. Here are some options recent PC and Mac operating systems have incorporated in order to make online activity a stress free experience in the home.

Safety on Windows 7

Windows has attempted to simplify online security capabilities by lumping them all together under a banner they call Family Safety. Windows then breaks down the different areas of Family Safety into The Family Safety Filter, The Family Safety Website, and Windows Parental Controls.

The Family Safety Filter:

This software monitors a child’s activity using safety settings selected by the parent. Before setting up the Family Safety Filter, check to see if it is already installed on your PC. If you run Windows 7, there is a good chance that it is. If it is installed, it will be in the list that appears after hitting the Start button. To set it up, click the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Live, and then click Windows Live Family Safety.


If The Family Safety Filter is not installed, you must download it from the Windows Live Family Safety download page. This can be done by simply visiting the page online, and clicking Download. From there, on-screen instructions should guide you through the process.

In order to set up the Family Safety Filter and to use the Family Safety website, you will need a Windows Live ID. A Windows Live ID is an e-mail address and password you use in order to sign into Windows Live services. In order to acquire a Windows Live ID, visit the Windows Live Family Safety website. Click on Sign Up.

Once you have your Windows Live ID and Family Safety downloaded, Family Safety will prompt you to select who you want to monitor. Select the check box next to the name of each family member you want to monitor on that computer, and click Next or Save. Make sure an account has been created for every person you want to monitor, and make sure the safety setting for each person is adjusted according to your preferences.

If you have guest accounts on your PC, you should also turn those off, since those could be used by anyone who does not want their activities to be monitored. Also, make sure that passwords are added to each account, to ensure each person is only using their specified account. This can be done by clicking the Add Passwords button on the Family Safety screen. With accounts created and passwords added, you should be able to monitor activity on your family’s PC with peace of mind.

Safety on Mac OS X

With the 2011 debut of Mac OS X Lion, Apple has created many new parental controls to restrict time on the computer, websites visited, who children chat with and what applications they use.

To enable parental controls, open up System Preferences and go to Users and Groups.
Create a new user by clicking the + sign in the lower left corner of the window. Fill in the data fields with the account name and password, and set the account to Managed with Parental Controls. After the account is set up, go back to Users and Groups, find the newly created account and make sure that Enable Parental Controls is checked.

Under Parental Controls, you will find five different tabs, each representing a different facet of computer and online usage that can be monitored. From right to left, you will see tabs for Apps, Web, People, Time Limits, and Other. The Other tab helps set limits on printers, CD and DVD burning, changing passwords and hiding profanity in Dictionary.

Protecting your family online can seem like a difficult task – especially as the computer skills of children often outpace the tech know how of their parents. However, with a little vigilance and diligence, parents will be able to rest easy with the knowledge that their kids are just a little bit safer.

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