Keeping your kids safer online can be complicated, but Windows Live Family Safety helps make it easier for you. Family Safety provides a website and a free program that you install on the PCs your kids use, so you can give them some independence but still keep tabs on their computer activities.

Here are some of the ways Family Safety helps you keep your kids safer:

  • Web filtering—Control the categories of websites your kids can view, or specify individual sites they may or may not access. SafeSearch is turned on for search sites such as Bing and Yahoo!.

  • Activity reports—Get reports on your kids' computer use: the websites your kids have visited or tried to visit, time spent on computers, and the games and programs they've used.

  • Time restrictions—Limit the amount of time your kids use the computer, and specify the times of day they can use it.

  • Game restrictions—Limit the games your kids can play.

  • Program restrictions—Limit the programs your kids can run.

How Family Safety works

The different players in Family Safety and Windows make up a team that works together:

  • The Family Safety Filter. Software you install and set up on each computer your kids use. It monitors your kids using safety settings you select.

  • The Family Safety website. A central online location where you choose and manage all the settings for each family member and view their activity reports. You create settings on the website once and they apply to every computer you installed the Family Safety Filter on.

  • Windows Parental Controls. A feature in Windows that's turned on when you use Family Safety. You can use Windows Parental Controls to set up more safety settings for your kids' computers. For more information on setting up Windows Parental Controls and Family Safety, watch the video about using Parental Controls.

Note

  • When you set up Family Safety for the first time, you'll be asked to sign in with a parent or guardian's Microsoft account. This person will be the primary parent in Family Safety, and is the only family member who can remove the family from Family Safety. Be sure to use the Microsoft account of the parent or guardian you want to be the primary parent because you won't be able to change it later.

Set up the Family Safety Filter

Here's how to set up the Family Safety Filter:

Step 1: See if the Family Safety Filter is already installed on your computer

If you have Windows 7, the Family Safety Filter might already be installed on your computer. To set it up, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and in the search box, enter Windows Live Family Safety. Then click Windows Live Family Safety.
Picture of the Windows Live Family Safety program on the Start menu
If the Family Safety Filter is already installed on your computer, you can find it on the Start menu

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Go to the Family Safety download page, and then click Download. Follow the on-screen instructions to download and install Family Safety.

Step 2: Sign in to the Family Safety Filter with your Microsoft account

Enter the Microsoft account email address and password of the parent you want to be the primary parent, and then click Sign in.

To set up the Family Safety Filter and to use the Family Safety website, you'll need a Microsoft account. If you don't have a Microsoft account, you can create one when you set up the Family Safety Filter. (A Microsoft account is an email address you use, along with your password, to sign in to Microsoft services such as Outlook.com and Xbox LIVE).

Step 3: Select the family members you want to monitor

Select the check box next to the Windows account of each family member you want to monitor on that computer, and then click Next or Save.

If you want to monitor someone who doesn't have a Windows account, click Create a new Windows account, enter the person's name, and then click Create account.

Each member of your family should have their own Windows account and safety settings. If everyone in your family uses the same Windows account, you'll all use the same Family Safety settings. You won't be able to get reports of which website each child's looking at.

Picture of screen where you can choose which Windows accounts you want to monitor
You can choose which Windows accounts you want to monitor

Step 4: Match your existing Family Safety member to their Windows account

If you haven't used Family Safety before, you can skip this step. If you already use Family Safety, you'll see a screen where you need to match each Windows account to a name on the Family Safety members list. If a Windows account doesn't have a matching Family Safety name, click the option to add it.

You'll recognize the people listed on the Family Safety members list as the people in your family who already use Family Safety. When you match them to their Windows accounts, you're verifying for Family Safety that each person is matched to their own correct settings. For example, if your child's name is Ben, he might have a Windows account named Ben but be listed in the Family Safety members list as Ben Miller. By matching the accounts, you tell Family Safety that this is the same person.

If there's a Windows account on the computer for someone who hasn't used Family Safety before, you'll see them at the bottom of the list. When you click Add (person's name), Family Safety creates a new Family Safety membership for them with their Windows account name.

Picture of the screen where you can choose which Windows accounts to monitor
You can match your existing Family Safety settings to your Windows accounts

Step 5: Add passwords.

It's important that all of your Windows accounts have passwords. If you have an account without a password, your kids could log on to that account and bypass their Family Safety settings.

If the Windows accounts you're setting up to monitor don't have passwords, click Add passwords.

If you have guest accounts on your computer, you should turn them off because kids can also use them to bypass safety settings.

Step 6: Verify your setup

Click Next and you'll see the Windows accounts that Family Safety is now monitoring on the computer.

Picture of the Family Safety Filter screen that shows which accounts are being monitored
See the Windows accounts that are being monitored and what their settings are
Show all

Customize your family's settings

By setting up the Family Safety Filter, you've got a good start on protecting your kids. Going to the Family Safety website to tweak their settings gives you more control over web filtering and other settings. With the Family Safety Filter set up for the first time, your children will be monitored with Basic web filtering. This means that Family Safety only blocks adult content and anonymizer websites (websites that let kids view other websites anonymously so that Family Safety doesn't see their activity).

To make it harder for your kids to see the things you don't want them to see, you can go to the Family Safety website and change their settings, starting with the web filtering level. For younger kids, we recommend setting the web filtering level to Strict so that little ones can only see websites that are child-friendly.

To customize your child's settings

  1. On any computer, sign in to the Family Safety website with a parent's Microsoft account email address and password.

  2. Under the name of the child you want to adjust settings for, click Edit settings.

  3. On your child's settings page, you can see an overview of their current settings and choose what you want to adjust.

    Picture of the Family summary page where you can manage your family's settings, reports, and requests
    Use the Family summary page to see all of your family members, edit their settings, view their activity reports, and see if you need to answer their requests

Set up web filtering

Busy parents don't always have time to surf the web and check out all the websites their kids might see. To make things easier, the Family Safety team reviews thousands of websites and assigns them to categories. The web filtering level you choose for your kids determines which of these categories they can view.

If you want to pick your own categories instead of using the preset levels, choose Custom. You'll see a list of all the categories, and then you can choose what's right for your kids. Under Web filtering, you can also make a list of blocked websites or allowed websites that will override the categories and filtering levels.

To set up web filtering

  1. Click Web filtering, select Turn on web filtering, and then select a web filtering level:

    • Select Strict to block all websites that aren't child-friendly or on the Allow list (the list of websites that you've specifically allowed).

    • Select Custom to allow and block website categories manually. To allow a website category, select its check box. To block a website category, clear its check box.

  2. Click Save.

    Picture of the web filtering page where you can turn on and customize web filtering for your child
    Turn on and customize web filtering for your child, and be sure to save your changes

Allow or block a website

If you want your child to use the Strict filtering level so they only see child-friendly websites, but you'd like to let them see a certain website that's blocked, you can add the website to their Allow list. Or, if you want to block a website that's allowed by their web filtering level, you can add it to their Block list.

To allow or block a website

  1. Under Allow or block a website, type or paste the web address of the website that you want to allow or block.

  2. Select an option from the list, and then click Add.

  3. Click Save.

    Picture of the web filtering page where you can allow or block webpages
    Allow or block specific websites for one child, all of your children, or your entire family

What will my kids see?

“The website I want to see is blocked!"

After you've set up Family Safety, when your child logs on to their Windows account to use the computer, and they try to go to a website that's blocked, they'll see a page like this:

Picture of the screen kids will see when a website is blocked
Instead of a website with inappropriate content, your child will see this page

If you're not available when your child is blocked from viewing a website, they can email you a request to see the blocked site. You can open the Family Safety website right from the email to approve or deny the request right away. Once you're done, let your child know if the website they wanted to see is now unblocked.

To view and respond to requests

  1. On any computer, sign in to the Family Safety website with your Microsoft account email address and password.

  2. On the Family summary page, under Requests, click (number) requests.

  3. To show any comments your child added, click the arrow next to the web address.

  4. Click the arrow next to Select a response, and then click Approve for this account only, Approve for all accounts, or Deny.

  5. When you're done responding to requests, click Save.

    Picture of the website requests page where you can review requests from your children
    You can review your children's requests and approve or deny them

"What websites can I see?"

The Family Safety Kids' Sites website is a great place for young children to start on the web. The website has links to the most popular of the more than 8,000 websites Microsoft has categorized as child-friendly. There's also a Search these sites box where kids can search only those websites that are child-friendly instead of the whole Internet. To make it easier for your kids to find child-friendly websites, you can set your web browser's home page to the Family Safety Kids' Sites website.

To change your child's home page to the Kids' Sites website in Internet Explorer

  1. On each computer your child uses, log on to their Windows account.

  2. Open WindowsInternet Explorer, and then go to the Family Safety Kids' Sites website.

  3. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Internet Options.

  4. On the General tab, under Home page, click Use current, and then click OK.

    A picture of the Family Safety Kids' Sites website with links to child-friendly websites
    The Kids' Sites website is a great place for kids to start their web surfing

Check out what your kids have been up to on their computer

To monitor what your kids are doing on their computers, turn on activity reporting. The Family Safety Filter will then keep track of what your kids do and save the information on the Family Safety website for you to look at.

To turn on activity reporting

  1. On any computer, sign in to the Family Safety website with your Microsoft account email address and password.

  2. On the Family summary page, click View activity report next to the name of the child you want to turn activity reporting on for.

  3. Select Turn on activity monitoring.

  4. Click Save.

After you've been using Family Safety for a while with activity reporting turned on, you can use the Family Safety website to look at reports of what your kids have been doing online. There's information on the websites they've gone to or tried to go to, how much time they've spent on the computer, what games they've played, and more.

To view activity reports

  1. On any computer, sign in to the Family Safety website with your Microsoft account email address and password.

  2. To view reports of your child's web activity, do one of the following:

    • To see a list of websites that your child has visited or tried to visit since activity reporting was turned on, click Web activity.

    • To filter the list of websites shown, select the computer, Windows account, and date range you want, and then click Show activity. To sort the list of reported websites by a particular column, click the column header. To show only the websites that were blocked, click Show blocked activity only.

      If you don't see any activity listed, try entering a larger date range, and then click Show activity.

    Picture of an activity report
    See what websites your kids visited or tried to visit
  3. To see a list of websites accessed by non-browser programs, such as auto-update programs, click Other Internet activity.

  4. To view reports of your child's computer activity, do one of the following:

    • To see a list of times your child used the computer, click Computer activity, and then expand Sessions.

    • To see which programs your child used, click Computer activity, and then expand Programs.

    • If you don't see any activity listed, try entering a larger date range, and then click Show activity.

    • To see which files your child downloaded, click Computer activity, and then expand File downloads.

    • To see which games your child played, click Computer activity, and then expand Games.

    Picture of the Computer activity tab where you can see what your child did on the computer
    See what programs your child used, and how long they were on the computer

More online safety tips

For more information about how to help protect yourself and your family online, see Online safety information for parents and kids. Check out the various links on that page, and share Internet safety tips and habits with your kids.