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How to enable Family Safety features in Windows 8

Microsoft has added some nifty new features to Windows' parental controls. Here's how to get your child's PC set up.

The Internet? Kind of a cesspool. And as the parent of kids who are now old enough to operate a Web browser, you can bet I'm keen on checking their activities and filtering out the inappropriate content.

Thankfully, Windows 8 offers some solid tools for doing just that. (Windows 7 does, too, but Microsoft made them easier and more robust in the new version of the OS.)

For example, you can limit your child's Web browsing to age-appropriate sites and block or allow specific sites as needed. You can impose time limits, perhaps locking out the PC during hours when you're at work and not able to supervise. And you can control what games and apps can be played and purchased.

To get started, you'll need to set up an account for your child. Here's how to do that in Windows 8:

1. Open the Charms Bar (with your mouse or by pressing Windows-C), then click Change PC settings.

2. Click Users, then Add a user.

3. Choose the appropriate option. If your little user already has a Microsoft account (say, for Xbox Live), you can enter it and use that. Or you can sign him/her up for a new account. If this PC is the only one your child will be using, you can also sign in without a Microsoft account, then tap Local account.

4. Tick the box marked Is this a child's account?, and then click Finish.

Now you're all set to configure any blocks or limits. Microsoft explains this in some detail, so I won't rehash it here. I will say that once you've got this all set up, you'll be able to monitor your child's activities from this PC or your own. Pretty slick.

If you're looking for a more robust solution, Mobicip (known for its popular content-filtering iOS Web browser) now offers a Windows 8-compatible version of its desktop tool. It offers dynamic, rather than static, filtering, and lets you manage more than just Windows computers. (In other words, you can monitor your kid's phone and/or tablet as well.) It costs $9.99 per year per device.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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