Monday, April 13, 2009

Windows XP Built-in Parental Controls on Time of Use

Yes! Windows XP does provide a way for you to restrict the times that your children use the computer. This is a major component of guiding responsible computer use. And you can do it at no additional cost and in only a few minutes.

1. You must password-protect the Parents account.

2. You must create a Kids account to be restricted. Please accept that this is a necessary part of sharing a computer among family members. It isn't hard to do.

3. You must specify the permitted logon times for Kids using the Windows command prompt. This also is not hard to do, and involves typing far fewer characters than there are in this sentence.

Let's Do It Now!

Password protect the Parents account

The idea here is that you will nevermore let the kids use your account. So you are going to make it secure.

Go to Control Panel, User Accounts (usually under Start, Settings) and select the link to Change my password or Set my password. You may need to first pick an account to change.

Now the kids can't use the Parents account.

Create a user account to be restricted

Create an account for the kids now.

Go to Control Panel, User Accounts (usually under Start, Settings) and select the link to Create a new account. Create an account of type "Limited user" called "Kids", and make them a password if you want.

Specify permitted usage times

Now you can specify the permitted usage times for the "Kids" account. This is the easy part.

Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, Command prompt, and type the following:

net user "Kids" /time:M-F,15:00-16:00;Sa,10:00-12:00

That's it! You just gave them permission to use the computer Monday-Friday 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to noon (only whole hours are allowed). The week days' abbreviations are M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, Su.

Just come back here for a refresher when you want to change their times.

In case of additional adventures

If you find you occasionally let your kids use your account, you may need to, depending on their level of deviousness, prevent the creation of other accounts and modification of time schedules from the Parents account. You'll have to create an "Administrative" or "The Management" account. Then make it an "administrator" type account, and make the Parents account a "limited user" account. This will make it impossible for anybody (kids) to make account changes (new accounts, new times, or new programs) from the Parents account. The downside of such security is you, the Parent will have to log in as "The Management" every time you want to make schedule changes or install certain software.

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