Windows XP / Networking

Set Controls on Contents

Internet Explorer lets you block Web sites that have content you don't want your children to see. The sites are qualified by rating services, and you can take advantage of these services with a configuration change in Internet Explorer. Open Internet Explorer and follow these steps:

  1. Choose Tools → Internet Options. The Internet Options dialog box appears and then click the Content tab, and in the Content Advisor section, click Enable. The Content Advisor dialog box appears.

    Content Advisor Dialog Box

  2. Use the slider on the Ratings tab to set limits on the level of the types of content listed in the dialog box. The more you slide to the right, the more liberal your controls become (the opposite of the way political blocs work).

The Ratings tab displays RSACi as the rating service. This service is the Recreational Software Advisory Council, which no longer exists. It is been merged into the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). ICRA is an international organization that is dedicated to making the Internet safer for children while respecting the rights of content providers.

Password protect your settings

Even very young children can figure out how to access the Ratings dialog box and move that slider to the right. Therefore, you must lock your settings by requiring a password to override the configuration changes you make.

The lock is on for all users, even the parents. Give the password to the adults in the house but not to the children. Make sure adults who write down the password hide the piece of paper that holds the password. To set a password that protects your configuration settings, move to the General tab.

The two options at the top of the General tab set the controls. The first option is Users Can See Sites That Have No Rating. If you select the check box, users can view any Web site that has not been self-rated. This almost guarantees that users will see objectionable material because not all Web sites subscribe to ratings. If the check box is clear, users cannot view any unrated Web page, no matter how benign the content may be.

The second option, which is selected by default, is Supervisor Can Type a Password to Allow Users to View Restricted Content. This means that the adults in your house can use the password you create to view any site on the Internet. If you clear the check box, even you won't be able to view Web sites that don't pass your content configuration controls. To use a password, click Create Password to open the Create Supervisor Password dialog box.

Supervisor Password Dialog Box

Enter a password and then enter it again to confirm it. Enter a hint to help you remember the password if you forget it. When you are finished, click OK. If you use a different browser, you can download software to protect your children against objectionable sites. You can get information and software at (the site for the Internet Content Rating Association).

Use Windows Vista parental controls

Microsoft has provided a robust set of parental controls within Windows Vista. You can apply the controls to any account configured as a Standard User, which means you should make sure your children did not create user accounts that are in the Administrator category. If any of your children are configured as Administrators, you can automatically change the account type to Standard User when you impose parental controls. Use the following steps to access the parental control features:

  1. Choose Start → Control Panel. The Control Panel opens, listing the categories for configuring the computer.
  2. In the User Accounts and Family Safety category, click the Set Up Parental Controls for Any User link. Windows displays a list of all users.
  3. Click the username of the child for whom you want to set controls. If the user is configured as an Administrator, Windows displays a message explaining that the account type has to be changed to impose controls and offers to perform the task. Click Yes to change the user's account type to Standard User.
  4. In the Parental Controls window, establish the controls you need and click OK. Click each control's title to learn more about the controls. The explanations are clear and easy to understand.
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