I’ve been working on a lot of peoples computers lately. The issue? They all have the same type of symptoms when I boot them up. A million popups. “Crapware” software installed that is supposed to tune up or fix the computer. Viruses, Spyware, Malware, unnecessary toolbars – you name it they are all on there. The culprit? They all invariably started by someone letting their kid play on a computer unsupervised without any kind of safeguards in place. So if you don’t want to hire someone like me to fix it (at $50.00 an hour mind you!) then I suggest you follow these tips on how to protect your computer from your kids.
So What is the Problem?
I love my son with all of my heart. But he is only 3 years old. No way do I allow him onto my computer without supervision and a few safeguards in place for both him and the computer. Unfortunately for a lot of people their computers have become the new “Electronic Babysitter”. And that is dangerous for both your kids and your computer.
Because the internet is like the Wild Wild West. There are very few safeguards put in place online to prevent people from setting up web sites that promise one thing only to infect a computer or prompt you to download some type of software or (un)helpful toolbar to be able to access the website. And although they aren’t directly targeting your kids – it is the perfect storm. Your child ends up blindly clicking away agreeing to whatever prompts them on the screen and they inadvertently install all the garbage on the internet – directly onto your computer.
You know the one where you have all of your tax information, bills, online banking account info, wedding pictures? Get my point?
What’s even worse? Your Antivirus will most likely do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to stop it.
Note: I was told I was stereotyping all kids into one big category where they are all wild untamed brats clicking anything on the screen with malicious intent on destroying your computer. That isn’t the case at all. My son is very inquisitive – but he can’t read yet. So if he sees the shiny red “CLICK HERE” button? He is going to click on it. Just like you might have just now. 🙂
So What’s the Solution?
There are actually a lot of stuff you can do to help stop this from happening to begin with. And you don’t even need to be a computer whiz to do it.
Tip #1 – Setup a Separate Profile in Windows
The first thing you will want to do is setup a new profile inside of Windows for the lil’ one to play on. Make sure to password protect it and if they are very young – don’t allow them to have the password. Oh and if you don’t already have a password on your own profile? Please add one.
Read More: Are Your Passwords Secure Enough?
Prior to Windows 8
I know a lot of people are still using Windows 7 or even Windows XP (Hey, I don’t blame you) So if you are – then use the following instructions. Sorry I’m going off of memory here so if they are off a bit let me know in the comments and I’ll get it fixed.
- Click on Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts
- Select Create a New User -> Type in the User Name -> Click on ‘Standard User’ under Roles (NOT Administrator!) -> Click on the Create Button
- Now you will see the new User’s picture on the screen.
- Click on the Picture -> Click on Create a Password -> Type in the Password twice as well as the Password Hint ->Click OK
To Access the New Account:
You can click on the CTRL-ALT-DEL and select “Switch User” and select the new account. It will then create the new profile and your kiddo will have his or her own space on the computer they can play on.
You can also change the default user picture here or click on Manage Users to tweak the user control even more.
To make it easy though there is the Windows Live Family Safety Program. This program allows you setup controls on what type of video games your child can use based on the Maturity Settings you set in place, applications they can use, and even setup specific time schedules on when they can access the computer/application/game.
On Windows 8
With Windows 8 its a bit simpler although the Start button is missing.
- Move your mouse to the Upper (or Lower) Right Corner of the Desktop.
- When the option menu pops up click on Settings then down on the bottom click on Change PC Settings
- From there you can click on Users
- Click on Add a user.
- Then select ‘Sign in without a Microsoft account’ and click on Local Account
- From there you will prompted for a User Name, Enter a Password, Reenter Password, Password Hint then click Next
- Check the Box where it asks if this is a child’s account and click Finish
Tip #2 -Protect Your Computer and Your Child Using Web Filtering Tools
Use the Family Safety Feature in Windows 8
The great thing with later versions of Windows is that it has built in features to protect your computer and child. You just have to go in and configure it to work. It has the following features:
- Monitoring – Allows you to monitor the profile you setup for web usage, visited websites, games played, and computer usage. This way you can find out what they have been up to. And if they go to sites you don’t like or deem inappropriate? You can then go in and setup a block on it.
- Web Filtering – Here is where you can setup automatic web filters dependent upon the appropriate age group. So the younger they are the more aggressive the filter is set. You can also setup custom block/allow here.
- Time Limits – You can setup time limits on how much time your child is allowed on the computer. Set curfew limits so they aren’t able to login late at night, or set a specific amount of time that they are allowed to use the computer so they aren’t on it all day.
- App Restrictions – You can allow or block the new profile to only allow it access to specific applications – say like Microsoft Office if they are mainly only supposed to be writing a paper or doing homework.
- Game Restrictions – This is where you can setup game restrictions based on the ERSB ratings. This is great if you are a gamer yourself but don’t want the tyke playing Grand Theft Auto V.
- Requests – The last thing you will see is the Request feature. This is where if your child can request access to an application or game.
Note: You can adjust the settings to your liking and turn off features you don’t wish to use. I would suggest using at least the web filtering tool to help prevent kids from accessing websites that could potentially be harmful to your computer and your child.
There are other options out there though if you don’t want to run Microsoft’s Family Safety program. I have use the free services Open DNS and K9 in the past and they do work pretty decent. I know that the focus is to protect your computer from harm – but it never hurts to protect your child too!
You’ll need to be a little computer savvy to set this service up for the first time. It requires for you to change some DNS settings inside of your home wireless router after you sign up for their service. It offers web filtering, anti-phishing/anti-fraud protection, and of course parental control to block websites and other online services. The other cool thing is that once you add it to your home router? It will be activated across any device on your home network! There is a VIP version that offers a bit more protection for $19.95 a year. But the free service should work just fine.
If you aren’t comfortable playing around with your router or it just isn’t supported then I don’t suggest using it. The good news though? The service is 100% Free.
This FREE software that you install is setup to block just about any website out there you wouldn’t want your child to see. You can setup to where it blocks entire categories like Pornography, Gambling, Hate/Racism, Drugs & Alcohol, and more. And you can even set it up to where it blocks social media sites like Facebook. It also offers malware protection as it acts as a Web Proxy sifting all internet sites through its software and blocking any malicious content before it hits your computer.
This application does all of the above except that it will cost you $39.95 to get it. What I like about this app is that it has different filters set in place for children, teens, and adults. You can also set restrictions on who can access specific applications on the computer, as well as monitor and/or block chat programs and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
This service has been around for a very long time now. Originally started as just a web blocking tool for porn sites. The service has grown and offers all of the above features and goes a step further with sending you reports of what you child is doing online. Although the main focus here is to protect your computer. At $39.99 it is the most expensive service out there and the other free ones do a good enough job for protecting your computer.
Tip #3 – If Your Computer is Already Infected?
Don’t worry YOU can fix it! You just need to download some software to do it. The best all around spyware removal tool that I personally use on all of my computers at home? That not only removes Spyware and Malware but protect your computer as well is Malwarebytes.
Malwarebytes will actively monitor your computer and block any potentially malicious piece of code from accessing your computer. And it is continuously being updated so as new threats are released onto the internet Malwarebytes is being updated to prevent them from going onto your computer.
If it does find something it doesn’t like on your computer? It will notify you and automatically remove it. The only thing you have to do is check a box, click on the Clean Infected Items button and reboot your computer. It really is that simple.
Click the link below to start your FREE 30 day Trial. I would highly suggest purchasing it though for your own computers. At $24.95 your going to save $25.00 or more if you were to take it to someone else to clean your computer for you. Right now until 11/15/2013 you can get 10% off of Malwarebytes Pro – Just make sure to use the Code: avgjoe10 during check out to save 10% off your purchase.
Tip #4 – The Best Tip of Them All that is Free?
SUPERVISE YOUR CHILDREN. I know the game is on. You have dinner to make. We all have busy lives in our families. But the best overall advice I can give you is to monitor what your kids are up to whenever they are on the computer. Not only will it save you money. You will know what they are up to on the computer. Which in today’s world of cyberbullying, pornography, social media, and infinite web sites filled with hate/racism/violence etc..? The internet can be a dangerous place for your kid to be on alone.
Although this originally started out on how to protect your computer. Turns out you will be protecting your children as well. Of course working with your kids on educating them having good browsing habits and personal supervision are the best tip I can provide. Either way this will help prevent getting your computer re-infected. Of course having Antivirus and a Spyware detection tool like Malwarebytes helps too!
What Steps Do You Take?
I want to hear from you now. What steps do you take to ensure that not only your kids are protected but your computer too?