Windows Parental Controls

Microsoft Windows is the dominant operating system for PCs. Microsoft’s brand for parental controls is Family Safety.

Family safety can control Windows 10 and Windows 11 as well as the Xbox game console (see Xbox section). Windows account users do NOT have to use a Microsoft email address ( to login.

The first thing to do is to make sure that your Microsoft Family is properly set up as it will make the whole process much easier. It has also the advantages of sharing things like payment methods and cloud storage. Visit Microsoft Family Safety to get started.

See how to create a Microsoft Family

Once your family is properly set up, follow the process below to activate parental controls.

Windows Parental Controls are comprehensive and allow the following settings:

  • Block specific apps and websites
  • Automatically filter inappropriate content
  • Control screen times: when and for how long across devices and for specific apps/games
  • Check browsing and search history
  • Receive weekly summary

The challenge of Windows Gaming

Windows PCs are great gaming platforms however when it comes to limiting the amount of time your child can play, you rapidly run into the issue of deciding how to allocate gaming time across various games.

Let’s suppose your child plays mostly three games: Fortnite, FIFA and Minecraft. You could decide that your child can play these games for 1 hour each only on weekends. But if you wanted to limit total gaming time to 2 hours per day then it wouldn’t work as the total playing time would be 3 hours (1+1+1).

The solution is to create a SECOND Microsoft account for your child dedicated to gaming and add it to your Microsoft Family. Your child would then easily switch between the two accounts on his computer to conduct non gaming and gaming activities separately. The gaming account would have these characteristics:

  • Allow gaming account usage for any specific day of the week and time of the day
  • Allow gaming account usage for a limited time during the allowed time windows
  • Block specific games from running (some violent games could be installed on the same computer by an adult account)
  • Have the same content restrictions as the primary account

In parallel, the primary account would need to block all installed games so it can be used only for non gaming activities.

The diagram below shows the proposed structure of the Microsoft Family and how it links to the Xbox Family (if applicable, see Xbox section).

The examples provided below are based on a child gaming account.

Windows Accounts Setup

After your Microsoft Family is set up, you need to allow your child to sign into the computer as shown below for the Tom Gaming account. The Account type should be set to Standard User.

This is the only thing that needs to be set up on the target computer. The rest can be done online or with the Family Safety App.

Configuring Family Safety Parental Controls (for a gaming account)

Head to Microsoft Family Safety and click on the icon representing your child (we can also use the Family Safety App on a mobile device).

This is my son Tom’s Gaming profile. He is only allowed to use it from Friday night till Sunday for a maximum of 2h15 each day. Tom plays only Fortnite and Valorant.

The overview also provides information on sites visited, searches and spending activities.

Click on Screen Time on the left menu

Limit device usage: here we can see what days Tom under his gaming account is allowed to use the devices that he can access. There is a limit of 2h15 from Friday to Sunday (15 minutes extra to cater for maintenance activities like game update). Tom doesn’t own an Xbox but if he had one the Xbox would fall into these limits as well.

Obviously, Tom’s primary account for non gaming activities, has different, appropriate, screen times.

Tip: If you are using one schedule for both Windows and Xbox, you can add more time on demand to Windows using the Xbox Family App. See details here.

Click on Apps and Games tab: here we can see which apps and games have been used the most. Since there is a time limit on the account itself I have not set a limit on any particular game but this is possible as well. See example with Notepad below.

Limit or block Apps and games: I could for example restrict Notepad usage to Weekends only for 2 hours max between 2pm and 8pm

Click on Content Filters on the left menu

You can see which sites have been visited in the last week as well as the terms searched. You have the option to block a particular site by clicking on “Block”

The next section on the same page shows the filtering applied with Microsoft Bing search engine. Note that all other browsers than Edge will be blocked when this is turned on (i.e. Google Chrome will be banned). We can also see web sites are specifically blocked. There is an option to use only allowed web sites but this is not recommended as you would constantly get requests on your phone.

On the Apps and Games tab, you are able to filter inappropriate games based on age and block specific apps. Note that all browsers are automatically blocked at the exception of Microsoft Edge to ensure web filtering works are expected. Do not remove these blocks, this is not a mistake.

Note: these settings are applicable to Tom’s gaming account. All games in Tom’s primary account are blocked so he can focus on non gaming activities.

Best practice: review usage on a weekly basis

Microsoft will send you a weekly report on your child’s activities. Take the time to review it and take action if you spot something suspicious.

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