A Ninja Mom’s Guide to Limiting Computer Time

Welcome to Techie Tuesday here at More Cowbell! This is the day each week when I unleash my inner geek and we talk about some groovy piece of technology or a technical point of writing.

I’ve got some extra help this week. Many of us know her as mystery writer, K.B. Owen, but today she is…

NINJA MOM, able to leap tough operating systems in a single bound!

Ninjas, Moms, computers

Photo from RenWorldInc.com

Kathy sent a buzz of grand proportion through the comments section last Techie Tuesday with this jewel:

  • K.B. Owen says:

    …By the way, hubster and I are BIG fans of the time restriction capability of Windows 7. You can go into your kids’ logons and block/unblock certain time grids, in one-hour increments and per day of the week. It’s SO easy now to enforce limits on their computer time; the computer gives a couple-minute advance warning that shut-down is coming up, and then – poof! – they are off. We can easily make adjustments in the control panel, if needed.

She generated SO much buzz amongst the other commenters, I asked her to give y’all a quick demo. The video below is just over 4 minutes long and I’ve already listened to it twice (just because I love  her voice).

Just in case you can’t view the above video for anyreason, below are the instructions from the Microsoft website (except pared down so the the non-techies don’t glaze over).

Setting Parental Controls in Windows 7

Note: If your computer is connected to a domain, Parental Controls are not available. (This means that if you’re attached to a network, you  don’t have administrative capability, your Network Admin does!)

Assuming you’re on a family computer, you can use Parental Controls to help manage it.

Some features:

  • Set limits on your children’s access to the web, the hours that they can log on to the computer, and which games they can play and programs they can run.
  • When Parental Controls blocks access to a webpage or game, a notification is displayed that the webpage or program has been blocked.
  • Your child can whine click a link in the notification to request permission for access to that webpage or program.
  • You  can laugh yourself silly allow access by entering your account information.

Note: Before you get started, make sure that each child has a standard user account because Parental Controls can only be applied to standard user accounts.

To set up Parental Controls for your child, you’ll need an Administrator user account. Parental Controls cannot be applied to an Administrator user account. For more information about user accounts and setting them up, see What is a user account? (<– Do I know my posse here at More Cowbell, or what?)

To turn on Parental Controls for a standard user account

  1. Open Parental Controls by clicking the Start button. Go to the Control Panel, and then, under User Accounts, click Set up Parental Controls. (You might be asked to type your Admin password.)
  2. Click the standard user account for which you want to set Parental Controls.
  3. Under Parental Controls, click On. (Sing a “Hallelujah” chorus!)
  4. Once you’ve turned on Parental Controls for your child’s standard user account, you can adjust the individual settings that you want to control.

You can control the following areas:

  • Web restrictions. You can restrict the websites that children can visit, make sure children only visit age-appropriate websites, indicate whether you want to allow file downloads, and set up which content you want the content filters to block and allow. You can also block or allow specific websites.
  • Time limits. You can set time limits to control when children may log on to the computer. Time limits prevent children from logging on during the specified hours and, if they are already logged on, they will be automatically logged off. You can set different logon hours for every day of the week.
  • Games. You can control access to games, choose an age rating level, choose the types of content you want to block, and decide whether you want to allow or block unrated or specific games.
  • Allow or block specific programs. You can prevent children from running programs that you don’t want them to run. (Don’t want them in QuickBooks or TurboTax? No problem!)

Easy peasy, right?! Go, you Ninja Moms and Dads, GOOOOOOO!

In case you’re like me and you can’t get enough Kathy in your life, click here to read her hilarious post on our June foray into the Fast Draft process…Fast Draft By The Numbers.

Who runs the computer show in your life? Have you ever tried setting up Parental Controls? What was your experience? Are there any tips you have to share? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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25 Responses to A Ninja Mom’s Guide to Limiting Computer Time

  1. Pingback: Fast Draft, by the numbers – K.B. Owen, mystery writer

  2. K.B. Owen says:

    Jenny, thanks so much for the kind words, and for hosting me today! It was super-fun to put the video together. Hope it’s helpful to everyone. You did the bulk of the work, girlfriend – thanks for explaining all the stuff I didn’t, and in true techie style!


  3. Kathy…LOVE your voice. So cool and not what I expected. LOL!!!
    Awesome tutorial – you are the bomb. I had no idea you could set this kind of stuff with Windows 7. Sweet. I shall pass along to all my parent friends. I am sure they’ll love it.
    Happy day ladies…


  4. Julie Glover says:

    Kathy did great! (Love the voice too, and also not as expected.) Windows Vista also has these time limits, but the software doesn’t boot him off. It seems like the lock only works to prevent getting ON during those blocked hours, but once he’s logged in, it’s anarchy, baby! I like the Windows 7 approach.

    I also like that the standard user accounts cannot download programs. Although we have certainly coached our kids to consult with us before downloading anything, it helps that the computer simply won’t allow it! They MUST get administrator password permission to download a new program.

    Thanks for the tutorial, Jenny & Kathy!


    • K.B. Owen says:

      I know, a warning doesn’t cut it – enforcement is the way to go! And good point about the downloading – we have that, too. It’s saved us a number of times!

      Isn’t it funny the assumptions we make about voice? I remember when a bunch of us won one of Jenny’s “GoToMeeting” tutorials; once we all got on the phone line, we started chattering back and forth to each other about how different we sounded than we’d imagined. Poor Jenny – it was like herding cats to get that crew to focus, LOL. 😉


  5. pencildancer says:

    Is it wrong to think I could use this for myself to stay off the internet? I just can’t figure out how not give myself permission to access. 🙂


  6. Laird Sapir says:

    Hysterical! Thanks for the tip!
    My kids are too small for computers, but my 4 year old is an ipad Ninja, and despite the fact that I have turned off the app store on the ipad AND disabled “in app purchases” AND I have a heck of a password that no 4 year old could ever possibly memorize…he still manages to buy apps on the ipad. To the tune of $30 this weekend. (Naturally, I have let the ipad run out of batteries – it seemed my only recourse.)
    Any ideas for that, guys?


    • amyskennedy says:

      Enroll him in brainiac computer school! You’ve got a genius on your hands.


      • K.B. Owen says:

        That’s because he’s his mother’s son, Amy! Laird has written code for me several times to get me out of a blog jam! Wish I could reciprocate in this instance, Laird! Sometimes the low-tech solution (no battery) is the best kind, LOL. Good luck!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LMAO on the battery solution! I say, look for a parental control app that you can turn on before you hand it to him. The problem is that you don’t log into separate iPad accounts. That means you’re going to have to “app” it….


  7. amyskennedy says:

    I think I need some kind of writerly lock “you have 5 minutes left on the internet, then you have to write” sort of thing! But it’s a great thing to be able to do. I also love your voice Kathy!


  8. Fabulous tutorial! I’m so getting Windows 7 on the dino-desktop! Thanks ladies 🙂


  9. K.B. Owen says:

    Thanks, Raelyn! I love Windows 7. Lots of cool stuff on it, including the latest OneNote.


  10. I no longer have children at home to torture with this, but wow, I sure could have used something like this back in the days when my boys would sneak out of bed on a school night so they could play computer games. Or look at nudie pictures. I can’t count how many times I’d wake up, realize they were on the computer, and have to chase them back to bed!


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