2/27/08
11:26 am

MacMost Now 49: Parental Controls

Gary Rosenzweig talks about using Leopard's parental controls to keep your kids from playing with things your computer and the Internet that you don't want them to.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi this is Gary Rosenzweig. If your home has both Macs and kids in it, you know it's hard to keep the two of them apart. But fortunately, there are parental controls in Mac OSX Leopard that enable you to feel safe as your kid roams on your computer and on the internet. Let's take a look in this episode of MacMost Now.
The parental controls built in the Leopard are a great way to lock down your machine and make sure that your kids are doing exactly what you want them to do and nothing more. Let's go and take a look at how to set up parental controls in Leopard.
Now, if your child is using your computer, what you probably want to do is set up a separate account for them. Likewise, if they have their own computer, you probably want to set up a standard administrator account that only you have the password to, and then set up their own account. When you set it up you do that by going to system preferences in the account section, press the plus symbol, and you want to create a new account managed with parental controls. Then just fill in the name, and you don't have to give it a password unless you want to. When you create the account you'll get a warning message about not setting a password. After the account is created, then you can go ahead and just click on the open parental controls, enable parental controls is already enabled. You do that, your system preferences will take you to the parental controls section, click on the account, and then you can start with the settings.
Letting you kids have their own account is a really good first step, because it means they don't have access to your documents, so they can't accidentally delete that all-important spreadsheet from work. So letting them have their own account is a good way to make sure your stuff stays safe while they play.
In the first section of parental controls, there's some general system settings. Like for instance, you can choose to use the simple finder, then you can select what applications are shown on the simple finder. Simple finder's a lot easier for small kids to use, and of course it restricts the access to a lot of the more utility-type applications. You can also select only allow select applications and select exactly which applications they're allowed to run. You can select whether they can administer printers, or burn CDs and DVDs. Also whether they can change their password if they set one.
The content tab probably has a lot of stuff you're looking for. You can choose to hide profanity in the dictionary if you like. More importantly, there's website restrictions. You can do unlimited access, you can limit to adult websites automatically, and you can add some websites also that they're allowed to visit. You can also allow access to only specific websites, and you can add specific websites that you want to this list. So this is very useful when they're very young and you only want them going to certain websites, and this might be more useful as they get a little older. Now this next set of preferences is very interesting especially if you've got preteens. You can limit their email, you can limit messages that they get to and from only certain email addresses. So you can allow grandma, but disallow any strangers for instance. You can also do the same thing with LiveChat. This way they have to come to you for approval to be able to chat with their friends.
Now if you like to limit how much time they spend on their computer you can also set time limits. You could set weekday time limits, and set a certain amount of hours they can use, and the same thing for the weekend. You could also set bedtime, so the computer automatically will be required to be shut down at a certain time each night.
Okay so now you've got everything in place but you want to check up on them, see exactly what they've been doing. For instance, if they're supposed to be doing their homework for an hour but you kind of think they were just surfing the web and looking at comics, well, you can go ahead into the logs and look exactly at what websites they visited, what applications they ran, and what they said on their chat.
Now you may want to also sit down and talk to your kids about the stuff that they might find on the internet because, after all, this might not be the only computer they're using. They may also use computers at school, computers at the library, computers at friend's house. Probably education is probably the best way to keep them safe, as well as setting all these controls at home. 'Til next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.