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I don't care how precocious your child is. Allowing any young child, and some older ones, unfettered access to computer isn't a great idea. Fortunately, Lion includes parental controls which allows you to limit what particular users can do to the Mac. Here's how to set it up. Go to System Preferences and select Parental Controls. When you do this for the first time, you will be told that you need to create a new user, because there isn't one that has parental controls imposed. So we'll click Continue to create a new user account.
I need to unlock my account in order to do this. So enter an administrator's password and now I am going to create a new account for my child. And we'll call this, the kid's name is kid, because I am not a very imaginative parent. Account name is kid. For our purposes we are going to make the password kid. But please make yours more secure. And Password hint is another bad idea. Don't write password is and then the name of the password. Now it will set about creating an account with parental controls imposed. Here we are.
We are inside the Parental Controls system preference, and here is what you do to limit access to this account. One of the first things you can do is invoke Use Simple Finder, and what this does is it creates a dock that has limited options. It also has fewer menu commands. So fewer things that will confuse a young child. You can also limit the applications that the user can use. So you'd click the downward pointing arrow and you can decide, all right, they can have Address Book. Well, I'm not going to let him use any of these Adobe applications. Automator, no.
Chess, I am going to let them play chess because that's a good thing for a kid. Let's say we will also give them access to Excel, because they're kind of a geek and they like spreadsheets. You can also choose whether they can use App Store apps. You can have them use all of them. Also, these apps are rated by age. So if you want them to use just kids' apps you might do 4+ or maybe 9+, but not up to 17+. You can also control their access to the dock. Do you want to allow them to modify the Dock or not? They can or not.
Now let's flip that off. Let's go to Web. You can also restrict what they can do on the web. So you can allow unrestricted access. So if you have an older child, you can let them go anywhere they want on the web. Or you can try to limit them. Now this is you can try to limit access to adult websites automatically. So Apple keeps a database of adult websites and if they try to get onto one of those websites, they will see a warning that says, you do not have privileges for this and you can't get here. Click Customize, then you can allow certain websites.
So this is creating a white list, and do that by clicking the Plus button and below you can click the Plus button and deny certain sites. Or you can allow Apple to choose for you. Allow access to only these sites and Apple has gone through to these kid-friendly sites and they've created a list of them. Again, if you like, click the Plus button and you can add bookmarks to others that you like. Now when configuring these web restrictions keep in mind that this works only for Apple Safari. So if you have something like Chrome or another web browser such as Firefox on your Mac make sure that you add that to the list of applications that are forbidden.
That way you'll have these web restrictions in place, because you'll only be allowed to use Safari. Then there is People. You could limit who your child communicates with. One way to do that is Limit email, so you can allow them to communicate with just certain people. Click the plus sign, add the first name, last name, and the email address of the person you're allowing your child to communicate with, and then click Add. You can also limit iChat. So if you want your kid chatting with their best friend, no problem.
All you do is click the Plus button and you choose the person you want to allow them to chat with. Now Time Limits. You can limit the amount of time that your child is working on the computer. First option is Weekday time limits. So for the weekday, all right, we are going to let him use the computer for about 2 hours a day. That's enough time for them to get their homework done and play a little game. You can also access the Weekend. You're going to give them even more time, because hey, it's the weekend. So 5 hours a day is fine.
You can impose Bedtimes. So on school nights, you can say, sorry, after 8 p.m. no computer for you until -- 6 is a little early for me -- until 7 a.m. and on Weekends you can stay up a little bit later. So 10 o'clock until, but we all sleep in. So until 10 in the morning. And then there is other. You can hide profanity in the Dictionary. The dictionary has some words that some people might find objectionable. You can hide those words if you like. You could limit printer administration.
That means that the user can't change printer settings, they can't add printers, and they can't remove printers. Limits CD and DVD burning is exactly what it says. If your child got into the habit of burning mixed CDs and you feel like that's not a proper way to use music, you can limit it so they can't burn DVDs and also disable changing the password. Honestly, if you're administering a computer and you don't want your kid to be able to do a lot of stuff on it, you don't want to allow them to change their passwords. So don't allow them to change their password.
We'll go back to the People tab so that you can see logs. This is important. Click the Logs button and here you're going to be able to see what your kid has done on the computer while you were away. So you can see a list of the websites they visited. The websites that have been blocked, your child tried to get to this website, but Parental Controls said, nah. Applications that the child has used and also iChat. Who has been chatting with your child? You can show activity for a Week, a Month, Three Months, Six Months, a Year, or all of it if you care to or you can group these logs by contact or by date.
When you're finished looking at the log just click Done. One other option I want to show you is down in the Tools menu. If you look at the very bottom you see this option to Allow Remote Setup. This means you don't have to be sitting down at the computer that your child is going to be using. Instead you can be on a computer on the local network. So your child has a computer in their room, you have your own computer elsewhere. You can set up Parental Controls from that remote computer. And that's one way so that the child doesn't feel like you're bursting into the room and playing with their computer, but instead you can configure Parental Controls as you like.
One of the nice things about this is, also you can change these settings if you like. So if your child gets a little bit older, remotely you can say okay, you're old enough now to use older apps from the Apps Store or we can allow you to use Photo Booth whereas you weren't allowed to use it before. So that's one of the advantages of doing this remotely. Now as a parent I can tell you that Parental Controls are helpful, but a good parent doesn't rely on them. It's always a good idea to explain why you're limiting the child's access to the Internet, email, and iChat without scaring them too much.
As children grow older, you can lighten up on the controls while at the same time you can let them know that if necessary you can monitor anything they do on the computer. It may seem intrusive and a little creepy, but it's important to protect your kids. And that's parental controls under Lion.
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