We demonstrate parental controls with Windows Live Family Safety, free software that helps keep your children safe from the dangers of the web.

The web has transformed the way we communicate and find information. It’s an ideal resource whether you’re looking for reviews of an item or service you’ve got your eye on or for schoolchildren to research a homework topic. It’s also great for keeping in touch. Teens can chat to their friends on Facebook without tying up the landline or running up hefty mobile phone bills.

However, the web also presents a wealth of dangers – ones that kids aren’t necessarily clued-up to handle. The prospect of your children being bullied in chat rooms and on social networks or stumbling across inappropriate images are the headline-grabbing threats, but there are other dangers to look out for too. Malware can accidentally be downloaded, and it’s all too easy for them to hand over more personal details than they should.

The tricky thing is to keep your kids safe without preventing them from using the web altogether.

Parental-control software lets you filter and block specific sites and web pages that contain inappropriate material. It also lets you monitor what your kids have been up to on a PC, and restrict which programs they use and how long they spend on the PC. Microsoft offers free parental-control software in the form of Windows Live Family Safety.

We can’t stress enough the importance of discussing with children how they can stay safe on the web. Not only will the communication help them understand why certain sites are blocked, it’ll help them think twice before taking unnecessary risks online.

Windows Live Family Safety: getting started

Step 1. Download Windows Live Family Safety. It’s part of the Windows Live Essentials package that includes MSN Messenger and Microsoft’s webmail client. You’ll be given the option to select which programs you want to install. Once you’ve selected the software you want, press Install.

Family Safety 1

Step 2. Open the Start menu and select Windows Live Family Safety from the list of programs. To use the service, you’ll need a Windows Live login. If you don’t have one already, you’ll be able to register for one for free from the login screen. Log into your Windows Live account to get started.

Family Safety 2

Also see: How to set up parental controls in Windows Media Center

Security Advisor