If you have children who use a computer at home it is necessary to control their access to the programs on the computer, as well as filter their online activity. Doing this used to require either a lot of expensive security software or a lot of specialized computer technician knowledge. Thankfully, digital companies are increasingly including easy parental controls in their software these days. With Windows 10, Microsoft has fully stepped up and made comprehensive and easy to use parental controls,  which come free with the operating system. They have even tied these controls to XBox systems as well, so that with one configuration you can control your children's activity on both your computer and the Xbox. Personally, I have a Playstation, so the Xbox controls don't help me, but should I ever get one it's nice that the controls will already be in place for that system.

In order to set this up you (the parent) will need a Microsoft account. If you are running Windows 10 or Xbox you have one already. If you have one then follow these steps:

1. Go to https://account.microsoft.com/family/ and log in with your Microsoft account.

2. Click on the option to "Add a Family Member"

3. Select "Child" from the account options and then create a new Microsoft account for your child by clicking the "create one for them" link in the window.

4. Click on the "Get a new email address" link and create an original email address for your child. It is important that your child does not have access to this email address password themselves if they are too young for such online responsibility. They will not need the password you create in order for them to log in to the computer. If they are old enough to be trusted with an email account then you can give them the password.

5. Once you have created an account for your child you will need to log in to their new email account and accept the invitation for their account to be controlled as a child by you.

6. Now on the Microsoft family website for your child you will be able to see their account and implement filtering controls. You filter their access to websites, games, and apps by setting their age in the "Content Restrictions" link. You can also see a list of every website they visit and every app they use by clicking on the "Activity" link. When you see an app or website in the activity page you don't want them to access anymore you can simply hit the "block" link next to that app or website and they will no longer be able to get there. Finally you can also set up time limits for their screen usage.

7. Once you have their restrictions set up how you like them you are ready to add their new account to your Windows 10 computer or Xbox. The nice thing about this being an online account is that if you have multiple computers in your home you can add their account to all the computers and  their restrictions will flow with them from computer to computer without  you doing any extra work.

8. On a Windows 10 computer go to the "Settings" by clicking the gear icon in the Start menu.

9. Click on the "Accounts" button.

10. Click the "Family and other People" link on the left side of the screen.

11. You should now see a button that shows the child account you created earlier. Click on that button and select the "Allow" button that appears. Your child can now sign on to the computer with their account, but we must make one final change so that they don't need to know the password to their email account you made.

12. Log out of the computer as yourself and then log back in as your child's account. Once again go to the "Settings" and then "Accounts" panel.

13. Click on the "Sign-In options" link.

14. Click on the "PIN" option to create a short PIN number for your child to use when logging in. This PIN will only work on a device it is specifically set on so that means if you have multiple computers you will need to do this on each one. Once the PIN is set your child will use that code to log in and they will not know the actual password to their Microsoft account.


Congratulations! You have now protected your child on the family computer!


A nice feature is that you will get an email every week listing all the things your child has done on the computer. Every website, search, app, game, and the time spent on each will be shown to you.