The Complete Guide to Windows (PC) Parental Controls
Layer 1: Guard the location of the Computer.
Remember, where kids use technology often dictates how they use their technology. We have strong opinions about controlling where kids use their tech. For example, computers should probably be kept out of the bedroom until at least age 16. Maybe a compromise is that the screen of the device must be visible through an open door. Otherwise, get ready for risk-taking and sleep deprivation.
Related post: The 5 Worst Places for a Kid to be Online
Layer 2: Set up clean DNS on your home’s WiFi (router).
You are responsible for every digital click on your home’s network, and so be sure to control the router. Popular options for parents are:
- Circle with Disney – by far the most popular parental control device on the market for controlling devices at the router (and also with Circle Go on devices).
- CleanBrowsing – use CleanBrowsing’s clean DNS and block most known porn domains (FREE). Read all about it in our extremely popular DNS blog post.
- OpenDNS – similar to CleanBrowsing, but with enough loopholes that we really prefer CleanBrowsing.
We’ve also recently found OpenDNS to be glitchy with our internet service, which is why we’ve moved to CleanBrowsing’s clean DNS for every device in our home, including the router.
Related post: How to Block Porn on Any Device. For Free!
Layer 3: Configure Windows Parental Controls.
First, set up a Microsoft Account:
- Follow this LINK.
- This will give you access to the Windows Parental Controls for all Microsoft products.
Add a child to your family Microsoft account
- Sign in at account.microsoft.com/family.
- Sign in with your Microsoft account, then select “Add a family member.”
- Select “Child” or “Adult.”
- Type an email address or mobile number for the person you want to add and select “Send invite.” If your child doesn’t have an email or mobile number, select “Create a new one for them” and follow the steps on screen.
- Have the person you’ve invited accept your invitation from their email or text message, or go to account.microsoft.com/family and select “Accept now” next to their email address. You can find it in the “Notifications section” at the top of the page under “Pending member”.
- If you selected “Accept now”, sign out so the person you’re trying to add can sign in and join the family. Then, sign back in and finish setting things up.
Note: if your child can’t remember a typed password, you might want to set up a picture password for them, so they can sign in using a favorite photo instead.
After your child is added to your family you will have a number of options for parental controls you can access by signing into your Microsoft account and following the links beneath your child’s name, including:
- Activity: lets parents look at what their child has been doing on their devices, including browsing history, the apps and games they’ve been playing and how much time they’ve spent using them.
- Content restrictions: allows parents to managing their child’s access to content, including access to purchases in the Microsoft Store.
- Screen time: exactly what it says – allowing parents to manage how much time their child can spend on the computer every day.
- Spending: allows parents to review past purchases and add money to a child’s Microsoft account, allowing kids to spend a bit on their own. Note that even with money in their Microsoft account, children can’t purchase content rated above their age level.
NOTE: Account holders (parents) will always receive and email notification when a purchase is made from the Microsoft Store.
Layer 4: Use filtering and accountability software.
There are a few options shown on our Resources page. Covenant Eyes works great for Windows computers.
*There are affiliate links throughout this post because we’ve tested and trust a small list of parental control solutions. Our work saves you time! If you decide that you agree with us, then we may earn a small commission, which does nothing to your price. Enjoy!