What to Look For When Setting Up a PC for Children

Endless gamble or YouTube in a loop? If you don’t want your children to spend too much time on the computer, you have numerous technical control and influence options. But they are not a panacea – at most they are part of the solution.

It’s a tiresome subject for some families – a subject that’s actually as old as computers and game consoles themselves. The question is how long and how often you can play or browse the net. Naturally, the opinions of parents and children differ widely as to how much is enough or too much. Windows and macOS offer parents many opportunities to set at least technical limits for children when using computers. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up a PC for your child:

User account and protection of minors

Both Windows 10 and macOS allow the creation of user accounts with lower access rights in their user settings. In general, children should not be given administrator rights; parents should set these up themselves. With such a restricted account, children can only install programs or change settings with the consent of their parents.

Apple makes it easy for users here. When setting up the account, users can choose the parental control option. A list can then be clicked to determine whether and for how long Internet, iTunes and games are available. Access to the Webca can also be prevented if necessary.

If you use Windows 10, you can use Microsoft’s family functions to create Microsoft accounts for your children that are linked to your own account. In this way one gains numerous possibilities to control computer activities – and to intervene if necessary. The advantage here: the settings then apply to every Windows 10 device that a child logs on to.

Also Read: 6 Things To Consider When Buying A Homeschooling Laptop

Set up time limits and filters

“A time limit is always good when a child is overwhelmed by non-stop engagement with the media,” says Kristin Langer, media trainer for the “Look! What your child does with Media”. Windows and macOS allow the creation of precise hourly periods during which a user account has access to the computer. This is how bedtime can be set and enforced for individual days, explains the “Klicksafe.de” initiative.

Windows and macOS also allow individual programs and games to be released or blocked with restricted user accounts (macOS) or via the family controls (Windows 10). Here, parents can specify, for example, that their children are only allowed to start word processing, the Internet and age-appropriate games.

Not everything on the web is suitable for children. There is no one hundred percent protection against inappropriate content. But the operating systems offer filtering. macOS, for example, allows parents to create lists of approved websites. Then children can only access these pages. Such exclusion lists (blacklists) or release lists (whitelists) can also be created in the settings menus of many routers. Certain keywords can also be blocked.

Don’t monitor too much

Both Microsoft’s family options and the account management of macOS allow parents a fairly precise insight into what their children are doing with the computer: For example, looking through visited websites, usage times or started programs. There are also third-party developers offering similar functions on the market. Media trainer Kristin Langer doesn’t believe in so much control: “Hard control is a good basis for conflict-prone disputes,” she says.

Even the best technical barriers can be overcome. The older children get, the more resourceful they usually become when it comes to circumventing barriers. So you shouldn’t rely too much on it. For Kristin Langer, technology is only half the battle anyway. “Technical solutions are only a support.” They do not replace conversation and, above all, understanding of the need for certain rules.

“Sometimes such attitudes are common,” admits Langer. Instead of setting up barriers, she advocates always explaining to children why they may still be too young for some content. Clear appointments often worked. And: “If you keep talking to each other, you don’t need to be in control,” she says. “Because then the children report problems.”

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