Configuring Parental Controls on Your Mac

April 14, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you have a young family that use your computer, the chances are that you don’t want them to be finding any material online or software or applications that might be considered unsuitable for them.

For instance it doesn’t take long to find adult material on the web. It’s just as easy to find a chat room and find someone with unusual lifestyle choices as it is to launch an R rated video game, and as such these things all need to be pushed to one side and restricted from the eyes of children.

With this in mind, Apple have included some useful parental controls in Mac OS X that allow you to restrict content and keep an eye on what your children are doing when they are using your computer.

Accessible via System Preferences > System > Parental Controls, these options can be set on each individual user account that you have set up. If you don’t have an account configured for your children, go to System Preferences > System > Users to add one, assigning a username to each as well as a password that they can remember. With the user account created, go to the Parental Controls screen to begin.

Configuring parental options on Mac

Protect Your Children with Parental Control Options

Select a user account in the left-hand column to adjust its access, where you will find the System tab is ready and waiting for you to use some of the permissions for the user. For instance you might activate the Simple Finder tool for young and inexperienced users, designed to provide a simpler view of the Mac OS X desktop. Similarly you might Only allow selected applications to be accessed, and when activated this tool will allow you to expand a list of all of the installed software applications for you to permit or prevent access to.

You will also notice that users can be prevented or permitted from administering printers, burning optical discs, changing passwords and modifying the dock.

On the Content tab, meanwhile, you will have the option to Hide profanity in Dictionary and limit access to inappropriate content in Wikipedia and other online references. The Website Restrictions section allows you to restrict access to a white list of websites that can be entered in the Customize… list, or restrict further to those provided in the Allow access to only these websites list.

The Mail & iChat screen, meanwhile, gives you the option of Limit Mail and Limit iChat, with a table where you can enter approved contact details for these applications.

Time Limits is a powerful tool, one that allows you to specify times for computer use on a user-by-user basis. You can restrict access to the computer to a specific length of time on weekdays and weekends, as well as preventing access during specific hours.

You can monitor the reaction to all of these settings in the Logs view, where data based on websites visited and blocked, applications used and chat sessions is recorded.

The Mac OS X parental tools are a powerful option for you to have as a parent, so make sure you use them!

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