Get a mop and wipe it up!

Windows Vista Parental Controls

, posted: 3-Nov-2006 21:33

One of the biggest hassles as a parent is extracting children (especially boys!) from computers when they are supposed to be doing something else. So I started investigating software to make this job easier and came across some interesting information.

In the next version of Microsoft Windows, called Vista, that is to be released at the end of Jan 2007, there are built-in Parental Controls. Official details are here:
I know that the most important parts of parental control are talking with your child/ren about on-line activities. But I still found these features particularly attractive:
  • Time Limits: Control what days, times, and for how long your child can use the computer.
  • Web Restrictions: Control what Web sites your child can access and what they're allowed to download (not affected by which browser is used).
  • Games: Control what games your child can play by setting rules based on rating, content, or title.
  • Block Specific Programs: Block access to installed programs on your computer that you do not want your child to have access to (such as Microsoft Money, my diary and such like).
  • Activity Reports: Display activity reports that include information about what Web sites your children visit, how long they're online, how many e-mail messages they get, and information about who they are exchanging messages with, to name a few.
  • All these settings can be different for each child. Children cannot install downloaded software without getting an administrator (hopefully, a parent) to do it for them.
    This is probably not such a good idea for a savvy teenager, as there are potential workarounds (boot another Operating System, boot from a separate drive, etc.).
    But Vista is a hardware hungry version of Windows, needing lots of memory and a great graphics card. Thus I won't buy it for our old computers. But I'd definitely opt for Windows Vista with a new PC.


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    Comment by tonyhughes, on 4-Nov-2006 00:07

    vista runs happily on my athlon 2800+ with buiilt in shARED video (64mb of main system memory). Its just that you dont get to run the aero UI, which isnt that big a deal.

    Whats your hardware specs...?

    Author's note by dmw, on 4-Nov-2006 00:24

    My youngest son is using an ancient PC. I'll have to check the specs, but it is definitely running Win2000. It is way behind an Athlon! How much RAM do you have on that?

    Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by freitasm, on 4-Nov-2006 09:26

    I have Windows Vista running on my Tablet PC, a Pentium Centrino 1.5GHz machine with 1GB RAM. The machine is almost 3 years old.

    I'd say for a desktop, 512MB RAM will be a start, but make sure you have 1GB. You don't need a flashy video card, as Tony says. Only if you want the Aero Glass UI, with transparency, etc, which is not what you need there.

    Comment by wirelessluva, on 4-Nov-2006 12:49

    Have a look at PC Chaperone - best money I ever spent on software. Kids haven't found a way to break it yet - and I know they try.

    Author's note by dmw, on 4-Nov-2006 14:54

    "PC Chaperone Personal" looks like it might be perfect. But their website doesn't say what versions of Windows it runs on. I've sent them an inquiry about that.

    I only need the Time Management features, as we already have content filtering using Net Guardian from our ISP (MaxNet).

    Comment by wirelessluva, on 6-Nov-2006 20:57

    I run it on XP - the Net Guardian type content filtering is fine but I needed a way to let them have net access for homework etc but not sit on MSN , Hotmail , Bebo , Habbo etc when they are supposed to be studying. You can set timeslots for each domain or a daily max time they can use eg 30min / day for Bebo.

    Author's note by dmw, on 6-Nov-2006 21:09

    I checked reviews at and decided to trial WatchDog from It is helping already.

    We talked through with our 10yo son about how long he should be allowed on the computer, and what times the computer should be available and what times it should lock him out.

    So now WatchDog boots him off, and not us. That immediately eliminated what was, at times, a huge conflict.

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    David White
    New Zealand

    Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth