Live From Microsoft, it's family safety!
I'm not sure who borrowed the idea from who, but Microsoft's Windows Live Family Safety works a lot like AOL's Parental Controls do. First, you sign up for a Windows Live ID for both yourself and your child. (Doing so nets you individual Windows Live Hotmail accounts.) Then, you install Microsoft's Family Safety software. And finally, you configure everything by way of a web control panel.
Getting started with Family Safety is pretty straightforward: click the Get Started button and follow the prompts. You can create a Windows Live ID if you need one or sign in with an existing one.
Either way, you'll land at the Family Safety settings page, where you can add one or more children and, if desired, another parent. (Why should you have all the fun?) This is also the place to create a trusted-contacts list, one that dictates who's approved to send email to your child as well as who your child can email. That gives Windows Live a slight edge over AOL, which offers only inbound protection.
What happens if Junior wants to contact, say, a new school friend who isn't on the contact list? He can visit the Family Safety site and ask your permission via email or even instant message. When you receive the request, you can hop on to the Family Safety site and - if the new kid checks out - give your digital blessing on the spot.
If there's a drawback to giving your child a Family Safety-protected Windows Live Hotmail account, it's that the web interface lacks KOL's kid-friendliness. It isn't complicated by any means, but younger users may find it intimidating.
Hey, Microsoft: you have the parental controls down pat - now how about offering a Windows Live 'Kidmail' interface with oversize buttons and cutesy icons?
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