Vista's Parental Controls (Part II)

In the previous installment of this article, you learned how to use Parental Controls to set Web and time restrictions. Now we’ll look at how you can use this tool to prevent users from playing games and using certain programs.

Games
Chances are you will not want your users playing games during business hours. Parental Controls lets you block any game on the computer or control the types of games that can be played.

To prevent a user from playing any games, click the No option. If you opt to let users play games, they can be blocked by rating or content types. Games can also be blocked by name. Select the Block or Allow specific games link to control specific games a user can or cannot play. For example, if you discover a user is spending business hours playing Solitaire, select Always Block to prevent the user from being allowed to play it.

Programs
Parental Controls lets you control what programs a user has access to. By default, a user will have access to all programs installed on the computer. You can select the individuals programs that a user is allowed to use. All the programs installed on the computer will be listed. Check each program that you want the user to have access to. All other programs will be blocked.

Note: Be careful not to block access to a program that a user requires to perform their job function.

Monitoring Activity
A very handy feature of Parental Controls in Vista is that it monitors activity and generates reports. When you select the View activity reports link, you will be presented with a summary of activity for the user account. It will provide you with information such as the top 10 Web sites visited by the user, their logon times, any games they have played and so on.

Along with user account activity, the Parental Controls reporting feature provides a report on general system activity. For example, the report will tell you when changes have been made to the system, the date and time of the change and who performed the action. Parental Controls reports on the following general system activities:

  • Changes to Settings
  • Account Changes
  • System Clock Changes
  • Failed Logon Attempts

Activity reporting is a handy feature, if you remember to view the reports on a regular basis. You can configure Vista to remind you to view the reports on a weekly or daily basis.

Return to the main Parental Controls window that lists the user accounts on the local computer. Under the list of tasks, click Family Safety Option. Choose how frequently you want to be reminded to view the activity reports.

[tags]vista, parental control, web restriction, protection, child[/tags]

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  • skatterbrain

    When you join a Vista client to a domain, it disables the Parental Controls features entirely. I can go into the registry and turn on the Parental Controls UI again, but it only allows you to reference local accounts for monitoring and control. There doesn’t seem to be a way to apply this feature to domain users. Is there a way to do this in a domain environment? Is this something only Longhorn will support?