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How to setup Family Safety for Windows using Microsoft accounts

Updated June 10, 2024

I don't know about you, but keeping my family safe on their Windows computers is priority number one. Sure, you can install anti-virus software and browser extensions, but what about the kids under 18? Here's how to set up Family Safety using Microsoft accounts.

How to setup Family Safety for Windows 10 using Microsoft accounts

Years ago, the only way I found to lock down my kid's computers was to add it to a domain and restrict the user permissions. And it did work. However, not everyone has a server/domain controller. So, what does a parent do?

Well, back in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft had a product called Family Safety. It was part of Windows Essentials, which was a separate download. It worked pretty well, but Microsoft dropped support for Windows Essentials, and it is no longer available for download.

So, if you think that Family Safety just faded away, you would be wrong. Microsoft has taken all of the original program features and added them to its Microsoft account interface.

All of the same great features are there. You can still filter what websites your kids can visit and restrict access to certain apps and games. You can also set what time(s) your kids can use their Windows computer. You can even set the appropriate age for the apps and games that can be accessed.

Now, there are some requirements for using Family Safety in Windows that may be a bit disturbing. Everyone, you and your child, need to have a Microsoft account. That, in itself, is no biggie. However, your child will need an email address to create a Microsoft Account.

I don't know many five-year-old kids that have an email address, but if you create and monitor it yourself, you should be all right. You don't have to let them have access to it. They only need the Microsoft account email address and password to log into Windows.

If you are looking for ways to protect your family when they are online, using Microsoft accounts is one option. When used in combination with a Windows computer running in S Mode, you can be assured of the maximum amount of safety.

How to set up Family Safety in Windows using Microsoft accounts

  1. Log into your personal Microsoft account. If you don't have one, then you will need to create one.
  2. Once you log in, scroll down your account information until you come to the Family section, and then click on View your Family.
  3. Under Your family, click on Add a family member.
  4. Enter your child's phone number or email address and click on Next. If they don't have one, create one by clicking Create an account. If you do that, then you'll be creating a Microsoft account at the same time. When you have your child's account all setup, you will still need to send them an invite. To protect your child's privacy, Microsoft may charge a small one-time fee to verify your identity.
  5. Once they (or you) accept the email invite, then you can start configuring their online settings.

What your child sees and can do when they log into their Microsoft account

What your child sees and can do when they log into their Microsoft account

  • Manage sign-in preferences, just like a standard Microsoft account.
  • Edit personal information like gender, State, ZIP Code, and time zone.
  • Edit payment information. It only applies to their account, not yours. You can add funds to their Microsoft account through your account. They can also redeem codes and gift cards.
  • Edit their Xbox profile if they have an Xbox account. If not, they can create one.
  • Edit their Skype profile if they have a Skype account. If not, they can create one.

What you see and can do when you log into your Microsoft account

What you see and can do when you log into your Microsoft account

Windows section

  • Screen time: This section is where you set up when your kid is allowed on the PC. There is a list of days, a time limit and the available times. Just click on a day, and you can adjust the hours accordingly. When you activate the time limits, the default time periods are triggered (7:00 AM to 10:00 PM). You can manually add, remove, or modify any of the periods, and you can have multiple periods per day.
  • Devices: This is where you can set time limits on all of your child's connected devices.
  • Apps and games: Here, you can block inappropriate apps and games. This section applies not only to Windows but also to Xbox. There is a pull-down menu that allows you to select the appropriate age for your child. This section will dictate some pre-configured settings that will enable or disable certain features. You can also view the list of blocked apps and games. If you want, you can also remove any program you feel should not be on the list.

Xbox section

  • Screen time: This section is where you set up when your kid is allowed on the Xbox. There is a list of days, a time limit and the available times. Just click on a day, and you can adjust the hours accordingly. When you activate the time limits, the default time periods are triggered (7:00 AM to 10:00 PM). You can manually add, remove, or modify any of the periods, and you can have multiple periods per day.

Edge section

  • Web browsing: You can turn on or off the blocking of inappropriate websites. You can create a (white) list of allowed websites and a (black) list of blocked websites. You can also only enable websites on the allowed list. Safe Search is turned on, and InPrivate browsing is turned off by default. Now, all of these web filters require that your child only uses Microsoft Edge. You can turn off the use of Firefox and Chrome under Apps and games.

Mobile section

  • Screen time: This section is where you set up when your kid is allowed to play on their smartphone. There is a list of days, a time limit and the available times. Just click on a day, and you can adjust the hours accordingly. When you activate the time limits, the default time periods are triggered (7:00 AM to 10:00 PM). You can manually add, remove, or modify any of the periods, and you can have multiple periods per day.

Spending section

  • Spending: This section is where you can add funds or credit cards to your child's Microsoft account for use at the Microsoft and Xbox stores. With credit cards, you can require approval for every purchase. You can also turn on or off receiving an email when your child gets a new app or game.

Settings section

  • Account settings: This is where you set your child's age, turn web safety on or off, ask to buy, and weekly email features.

There is also a smartphone app, the Microsoft Family Safety app, that allows you to make changes to your child's Microsoft profile.

Microsoft Family Safety - Google Play

Microsoft Family Safety - iPhone App Store

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