Mac’s Parental Controls gives you better control over your kids computer and internet activities.
Earlier we have mentioned about how you can make use of the parental control capability of Windows (Vista) systems to keep an eye on your kids computer activities. We’ve even mentioned about how to use your iPhone’s parental controls to restrict iPhone usage for your kids. It wouldn’t be fair if we don’t demonstrate the better parental control capabilities of your Mac (if you use one).
Before we start to implement parental controls on your Mac let’s imagine an ideal setup of your Mac. Let’s assume that you have one kid who uses your Mac to whom you wanted to restrict the computer usage. It doesn’t matter if your kid uses your Mac or uses his/her own. You’d need 2 user accounts to implement parental controls. One for you, as being an Administrator of your Mac so you can set things up. The other account for your kid, as being a Standard user. If you have this setup already, you are all set to move on to implement parental controls – you can skip the next paragraph.
If you haven’t done that yet then use System Preferences > Accounts to create separate user accounts for each user of your Mac. Use the “+” button at the bottom of the dialog to create new user accounts. Create as many as you need. Make sure to create those user accounts as “Standard” accounts.
Once you’ve established user accounts for each of your kid then you can configure each user account to have a different level of parental control settings. You being an Administrator of the computer you have all the power to configure and fine-tune those parental control settings to fit to your need. To your surprise, unlike Windows, Mac provides exceptional support for parental controls that’s pretty simple to implement. Let’s get started.
Get back to the Accounts dialog (under System Preferences) and choose your kid’s user account. On the right-side of the dialog you should be able to see parental control options. Check the “Enable Parental Controls” option box and then click on the “Open Parental Controls…” button.
That will open up the Parental Controls dialog. As you can see above there are 5 different tabs that you have to jump through to fully setup parental controls for your Mac. You don’t have to do all 5 tabs but the more the better the control you’d get. Start by settings things up at the “System” tab. It allows you to force your kid to use Simple Finder than the regular one. It also allows you to only allow selected applications from the list. Also, you can choose to allow your kid to administer printers, burn CDs/DVDs or change their account password. Choose the options that fit your need.
At the “Content” tab you should be able to control the usage of dictionaries and websites. You can hide profanity in Dictionary so your Mac limits access to certain words in the dictionary. This is more important, you can also restrict the websites your kid would visit. Choose one of the three options that fit your need. If you just want your kid to only access certain websites you can add those websites to the list and your kid won’t be able to access any other websites.
On the “Mail & iChat” tab you can limit the usage of Mail app along with iChat if you wish. If you wanted to enforce a much stricter rule when it comes to email you can also restrict to whom your kid can email. On the backdoor if your kid tries to send emails to people not on the list you can key-in an email address where you can be notified of such an attempt.
Moving on to the “Time Limits” tab, this tab let you enforce time limits on your kid’s computer usage. You can set time limits for weekdays and weekends along with bedtime settings for school nights and weekends.
The final tab to configure, “Logs” let you setup what kind of activities you want it logged so that you can get a feel of what’s going on with your kid’s computer activities. It let you access log entries for the websites visited, websites blocked, applications that are used and iChat session information.
As you can sense by now parental controls on Mac is very strong and simple to implement. It has a feel of giving you full control over your kid’s computer activities if you configure it properly and use it strictly. I hope this shed some light on what you can do with the Mac’s Parental Controls. If you have any questions/comments regarding this please share it on comments.