Harnessing The Power Of Parental Controls And User Accounts In Windows Vista

parental controls and user accounts in Windows Vista

When you first install Windows XP or Windows Vista part of the installation process involves setting up the user accounts that you will use.

Like me, you were probably keen to get started with your new computer or operating system and skipped making more than just the single default account.

Obviously this would then mean that everyone who uses your computer then has to share a single account.



If, however, you had setup multiple accounts from the get-go then every member of your family could have had their own username and password, distinct area for documents, desktop background and many other features that would have been unique to them.

For me, the best advantage of multiple user accounts was not having to have SpongeBob SquarePants as my desktop picture.

(Fortunately my daughter now has her own computer which is even better for me!)

Another powerful feature of multiple user accounts is the ability to configure security settings for each individual who has access to the machine.

This means, for instance, that you can configure your kids accounts in a way that makes them ‘limited users’.

As the name implies, limited users have limited access to the full range of Vista’s capabilities.

This means your kids could be prevented from installing certain types of programs, as well as various other possible limitations that you could choose to implement.


If you are running the latest offering from Microsoft –  Windows Vista – then there is a handy feature you can utilise.

Parental controls can be imposed upon your kid’s accounts.

Through parental controls you are able to limit what your children can access on the internet.

(I’ve blocked a huge number of sites on my kid’s computers)

Through Vista’s parental controls you can put limits on not only the web sites that can be accessed, but also the times that your kids are allowed to use the internet.

You can even control the types of games that they can play.


As a parent, you can have varying levels of automatic or direct control over the settings.

For instance, you can let Windows filter web sites and games according to their given ratings.

Alternatively, you can manually choose to allow or block any website, game or program that you wish.

Parental Controls are accessed from the user accounts screen, found in the Control Panel (Start button > Control Panel > User Accounts).

If you don’t already have separate user accounts for your kids, and are using Windows Vista, then you can create new accounts now.

Whilst nothing is ever totally safe, separate user accounts, combined with parental controls, should definitely add an extra layer of safety to your kid’s computer-related activities.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. You’re lucky with Spongebob because my desktop got hijacked by those pesky Simpsons.

  2. Arnt there parental controls in windows xp as well?


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