This is a compilation of common support questions for Microsoft Family Safety.
OVERVIEW AND SETUP
What can Family Safety do for me?
Microsoft Family Safety is a free parental monitoring app to help make it easier to keep your kids safe online. With Family Safety, you can give them some independence but still keep tabs on their computer activities. Family Safety allows you to:
- See which websites your kids have visited, and which apps and games they’ve used
- Block or allow websites, apps, games, or other content.
- Limit the amount of time they can spend on the PC
How do I set up Family Safety?
- In Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT, and Windows RT 8.1, Family Safety is well-integrated into the OS. While logged on as a parent, please add new child users and be sure to select “Manage My Family Safety Settings Online”. See Set up Family Safety for more information.
Also note that users of Family Safety that are upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 should be sure to read the Windows Essentials 2012 Release Notes.
- Windows 7 has some built-in Parental Controls, but in order to get full monitoring and control features such as web restrictions and activity reports, you should download and install the Windows Live Family Safety client from the Windows Essentials download page. See Set up Family Safety for more information.
- Windows Vista users can find information for setting up Family safety atProtecting your kids with Family Safety.
Can I have more than one PC using Family Safety?
Yes. When using more than one PC, monitoring and control is managed at
http://familysafety.microsoft.com, but you might see different options
, depending on the operating system
of the PC you are using when you sign in.
It’s important to set up Family Safety and have your child sign into their own account on every PC that your child may use.
Please note: If you grant your child access to multiple PCs, any time limits you set for them do not accumulate from one PC to another. As an example, if you set your child’s account for a time limit of two hours, they can use the 1st PC for two hours, and then sign into the 2nd PC and use it for an additional two hours. Please take this into account when you are setting time limits.
Can my child or a parent be a member of more than one family?
No. Each Microsoft Account can be associated to one family at a time. If you are a parent and you receive an error indicating that you are already part of another family:
- Sign into http://familysafety.microsoft.com with that Microsoft account.
- Click the Manage my family link at the bottom of the summary page.
- Select the affected user under Family Members and click Remove family member at the top left of the screen.
- At this point you should be able to add that family member to the correct (new) family.
What type of account should I use with Family Safety?
Family Safety works best when every member of your family has their own user account and safety settings. If everyone in your family uses the same account, you’ll all use the same Family Safety settings and you won’t be able to get reports of your kids’ PC and web activity, nor will you be able to set different rating levels and restrictions for different children. To make sure all of your kids have their own settings, add a user account for each person.
The parent’s account must be an administrator account, which can then create a child account for each child. The child account should be set as a standard user account and not as an administrator on a PC. See Set up Family Safetyfor information about how to do this.
Notes about creating a Microsoft Account for your child:
- A local account may be fine for a young child, but for a child that needs to have access to email or to make purchases, it may be a good idea to create a Microsoft account. Family Safety can provide a better experience if the child uses a Microsoft account – even if the account is not used for email or purchases – because by doing so, parents have the opportunity to set settings once and those settings will be pushed to every Family Safety-enabled device your child uses. Additionally, exception requests and activity monitoring will be available from wherever you are.
- The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires that a small, non-refundable fee be charged to the adult's credit card to verify that an adult is giving a child permission to create a new Microsoft account. You can find additional details at Why does Microsoft charge me when I create an account for my child?
- Once you’ve created the child account, parents should never change their child’s date of birth to above 18. If you do, the action cannot be undone, and the account will not be able to be monitored or controlled under Family Safety. You will have to create a new Microsoft account for your child in order to use the service.
- If you have guest accounts on your computer, you should turn them off because kids can also use them to bypass safety settings. For more information see Turn the guest account on or off.
You can find more information about the types of user accounts here: Which user account is right for me?
If my child has multiple local accounts, is there a way to merge the accounts in Family Safety?
Yes. You can do this in the main family summary page.
- Tap or click Link family members.
- Check-boxes will appear for each account. Check the accounts you want to merge and then tap or click OK.
Note: It is not possible to unmerge accounts at this time.
I am getting an error when I try to sign in as a parent.
- Try signing into another Microsoft service (like Outlook.com) to make sure the Microsoft account is working correctly.
- If you’ve recently changed your email address through another service, please have another parent associated with your family sign in and invite you at your new email address.
A. Check that the Family Safety service is connected to your PC, set up correctly, and that you can monitor your child’s activity.
The easiest way to tell is by using the http://familysafety.microsoft.com website. Each PC that is currently being monitored will be listed there with the date of last activity. You can also see which devices are associated with each user by selecting that family member and viewing the overview.
Please note that any devices that you have set up locally will not be visible on the website until you link it to the online service. (See Step B.)
B. Verify the PC is connected to the Family Safety service.
If your PC is not properly connected with the Family Safety service, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- You’re not able to monitor your child’s activity
- Time limits are not working as expected
- Email reports show only website activity, but not PC activity
If there’s a PC that’s no longer reporting any activity but should be, or if has become disconnected from the service, then the parent will need to open Family Safety on the PC (via desktop mode for Windows 8) and click the “Manage settings on the Family Safety website” box.
Please note that you must click this box on each PC that is failing to report activity or is disconnected from the Family Safety service. Going to the website directly will not re-establish the connection to the service. If for some reason you are not able to click on this, you may be signed in as the child, or there may be a problem with the child account on that PC. (See the section titled, “I’m getting an error when I try to sign in as a parent.”)
If there is a Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP PC that is missing from the http://familysafety.microsoft.com website, you will need to download, install, and run Windows Live Family Safety on that PC.
C. Verify that Family Safety Monitor is able to monitor the account.
If your Windows PCs are showing correctly on http://familysafety.microsoft.com, but nothing appears to be working as expected, please verify that the program is running. To do this, sign into the child account on the PC you’re having trouble with. If Family Safety Monitor is running:
- The Family Safety icon should appear in the notification area of the taskbar.
- You should also see “Family Safety Monitor” (or “WPCMon”) listed in Task Manager’s processes.
If Family Safety Monitor is not running when the child is signed into their account, this may occur if the child’s account has been set up on that PC as a Standard account instead of a child account. Even though the website may show the account as a child, the account must be set as a child account on the PC as well. To change the account to a child account in Windows 8.1:
- Sign into an administrator account on the PC
- Open PC Settings
- Tap or click Accounts, and then Other accounts
- Tap or click the child account and select Edit
- Set the account type to Child.
- Restart the PC.
D. Where can I get help for Family Safety?
You can get help from the community by asking your question in the Family Safety forums.
How do I remove or turn off Family Safety?
- Windows 8: Family Safety is built into Windows 8 and can’t be uninstalled, but you can always turn it off. To turn off Family Safety for an account change the account type from Child to Standard in PC Settings.
- Windows 7 or earlier versions of Windows: How do I remove Family Safety?
The Family Safety service is unavailable or disconnected, or I am getting an error that my changes can’t be saved.
If you still receive an error message that indicates that the "Service is unavailable", or you receive an error that your changes can’t be saved, please try again later. In some regions, there may be intermittent internet connectivity problems.
FAMILY SAFETY SETTINGS
Why is my child getting at least double the screen time I have set up online?
If you grant your child access to multiple PCs, any time limits you set for them do not accumulate from one PC to another. As an example, if you set your child’s account for a time limit of two hours, they can use the 1st PC for two hours, and then sign into the 2nd PC and use it for an additional two hours. Please take this into account when you are setting time limits.
How do I prevent my child from seeing certain websites or chatting online?
Details can be found at How do I prevent my child from seeing certain websites or chatting online?
How are web content categories determined?
Details can be found here: How are web content categories determined?
I am being asked to allow a blocked webpage - why and what do I do?
Whenever a child account tries to access a website or app that is above the rating you set in Family Safety, the website or app should be blocked.
In Windows 8 and Windows RT, the child would then be given an opportunity to request access, which results in an email request sent to your account. You may either use the links in the email to approve (or deny) the request, or you may log into http://familysafety.microsoft.com and navigate to “Requests” to view and take action on any items from your child.
In Windows 7, these exception requests may not be able to be sent by the child account to the parent.
Why is a website listed as a suspicious site?
A website is listed as suspicious if a monitored account requested and accessed a website that, under stricter web filtering settings, would have been blocked.
If a website appears on the suspicious sites list and you believe it should be blocked there are two ways of addressing this: block the webpage individually or set stricter web filtering parameters.
For more information, learn how web content categories are determined.
How do I refresh the Family Safety Filter in Windows 7?
Details can be found here: How do I refresh the Family Safety Filter?
Note: In Windows 8, there’s no need to install the Family Safety Filter as a separate app. The Family Safety Filter is built into Windows 8.
Why does it look like my child is requesting access to an application at a time that I am certain he or she is asleep?
When there are pending requests that are outstanding, Family Safety sends out an email, often in the middle of the night. This doesn’t mean that your child is making the request at that time, however.
My child's web activity shows a web site that I am certain he or she has not visited. Why?
Many sites have Ajax content (letting content be pushed or pulled to a different service), which makes it easier to integrate social media functions. As an example, let’s say your child visits a page that contains a “Like” button. Even if the child doesn’t click the “Like” button, the mere presence of this button on the webpage may appear on the activity report as a trip to Facebook.
FAMILY FEATURES IN OTHER MICROSOFT PRODUCTS
Can I use the Windows Store in Windows 8 or Windows RT with a Family Safety-enabled account?
Details can be found here: Using Family Safety settings with the Windows Store.
Where can I find information about the family safety tools offered on various Microsoft products?
You can find this information at Family Safety settings for Microsoft products.
How do I use Family Safety to monitor or control activities on an Xbox?
Parental controls for Xbox are managed from within Xbox LIVE, rather than Family Safety. You can go here for information on Xbox 360 online safety settings. You can go here for information on Xbox One Family.
How do I use Family Safety to monitor or control activities on a Windows Phone?
Parental controls for Windows Phone 8 are managed using My Family on the Windows Phone website. You can find instructions for enabling and setting up My Family on the Windows Phone website here. While the Windows Phone is not monitored or controlled from Windows Family Safety, you can set up My Family using the same Family Safety-enabled accounts.
Special thanks to the following contributors to this article:
Jennifer Rowe (MSFT), Reed Ruddy (MSFT)