HOW TO SET-UP A PARENTAL CONTROLLED USER ACCOUNT
Continuing from the last section, I will now show you how to change certain parental control settings for the newly created Managed With Parental Controls user account. Although many of the default (standard) settings should be okay in terms of a young child using the account, I will still show you how to add more limitations to the account; just in case a teenager is going to use the account for example.
If you are continuing directly from the previous section make sure you have the newly created parental controlled user account selected in the USERS & GROUPS system preference and then click on the OPEN PARENTAL CONTROLS button. On the other hand, if you are starting from scratch you could click on the PARENTAL CONTROLS system preference instead (Fig 1.1 below) to open the same Parental Controls window.
The main Parental Controls window is made up of five windows panes, known as Tabs, called APPS, WEB, PEOPLE, TIME LIMITS and OTHER respectively. By using the preferences
(options/settings) on these tabbed windows you will be in a better position to limit your child's exposure to the nasties that lurk on the internet and protect them from
certain websites for example.
With the first tabbed window, called APPS, you can limit the type of Applications the parental controlled user uses. By default they can use most of the common applications such iPhoto, iMovie, Pages, Numbers, Calculator, Contacts, Dictionary, DVD Player and iTunes but for some reason cannot use Microsoft Word and Excel for example - You, as the Administrator Account user, can put a tick next to those two applications so that the parental controlled user can use them. And the same goes for any other applications, widgets and utilities. Simply put a tick next to the applications, widgets and utilities you would like the parental controlled user to use and untick those applications, widgets and utilities you don't want them to use. To view the list of applications, widgets and utilities simply click on the grey triangle next to their respective section.
If you put a tick next to the setting called USE SIMPLE FINDER you will also prevent the parental controlled user from changing the dock, and if you put a tick next to the setting called Limit Applications (Fig 1.3 below) you can also select the Age Group (Age Ratings) of applications that you would prefer the parental controlled user account to use. Note - Some limitations such as USE SIMPLE FINDER might be too restricting in terms of using folders and files. For example, file selection and folder navigation will be restricted.
With the Limit Applications setting ticked its drop-down menu will become available (unfaded) whereby if you then click on the menu-item called ALL the rest of the menu-items will be displayed. In the above example I am about to select the UP TO 12+ age group. This basically means the parental controlled user (i.e. child) will only be allowed to use the specified (selected/ticked) applications in the Allowed Apps list, without needing an Administrator Account's password, so long as they are rated suitable for a child aged 0 to 12 years old. Any applications that are unticked in that list can still be used by the parental controlled user but they will need an administrator account's password to do so.
For some reason Apple have attached a plus sign to the end of each age group just to confuse people! In the UK putting a plus sign after an age, such as 12, means that age and over; so in this case 12 Years Old And Over.
THE WEB TAB SETTINGS
With the APPS Tab you can limit applications accordingly to their Age Group (Application Age Rating) as well as select which applications can be used by the parental controlled user. With the WEB Tab you can do similar by limiting that user's website access. In other words, block certain websites from being accessed/viewed, regardless of the website (internet) browser being used (i.e. Safari, Firefox or Google Chrome). When you click on the WEB Tab for the very first time the default setting of TRY TO LIMIT ACCESS TO ADULT WEBSITES AUTOMATICALLY will be selected. This setting means exactly what it says; it will automatically try to limit access to Adult Material related websites such as Drug Abuse and Porno websites. To block or allow certain websites you need to click on the CUSTOMIZE button.
After clicking on the CUSTOMIZE button you will be presented with two List (Display) Boxes which are currently empty/blank. The top box shows the websites that are
allowed to be viewed and the bottom box shows the websites that are not allowed to be viewed. As said, both boxes are currently empty and are therefore displaying
(listing) no websites. What this means is OS X (Mountain Lion) and more precisely the parental controls system preferences are automatically blocking and allowing
websites using other/general ratings criteria, but not your "definitely block that website" and "definitely allow that website" criteria.
So to clarify the just said; OS X (Mountain Lion) / Parental Controls will, in general, automatically filter adult websites per se. However, by clicking on the PLUS button underneath the ALWAYS ALLOW THESE WEBSITES list box or NEVER ALLOW THESE WEBSITES list box you have the choice of allowing or blocking certain/specific websites from being viewed by the parental controlled user. In other words, the websites you add to any of the lists will override the settings OS X (Mountain Lion) / Parental Controls normally use for the website. So if OS X (Mountain Lion) / Parental Controls classifies a website to be safe but you say "block it" that website will be blocked. And if a website is deemed bad but you allow it OS X (Mountain Lion) / Parental Controls will have to abide by your decision.
In the example below I have made my lists. Google searching is allowed but viewing Facebook pages and buying from Amazon is not allowed. Obviously smarter children will type www.amazon.fr for example (the French Amazon website) in order to view its contents which may not be for buying purposes necessarily. They might just want to look if Amazon sells the product in general. This means you may have to be a little more specific with your disallowed list, by adding www.amazon.fr to it for example. You would also need to check yourself if a facebook.co.uk or facebook.fr website exists for example and whether or not another, newer, web browser can be used to access blocked (disallowed) websites. It is for these kind of reasons that Parental Controls are not 100% Protection - Kids can, and do, get around their restrictions.
The easiest way for them to lift their limitations is to watch you when you type in your Administrator Account password - They will simply login to your Administrator Account when you are not around and reverse what you have done with Parental Controls. So always frequently check your Parental Controls settings to make sure they have not been tampered with.
THE PEOPLE TAB SETTINGS
The PEOPLE Tab has settings on it that allow you, the Administrator Account, to limit WHO the child account (parental controlled account) communicates with in terms of e-mailing and messaging. You basically tick the LIMIT MAIL option to limit who they can e-mail (Fig 3.1 below) and the LIMIT MESSAGES option to limit who they can send messages to. So in the example below I have limited the child account to only e-mailing email@example.com, by adding firstname.lastname@example.org to the ALLOWED CONTACTS List - You click on the PLUS button below that list and select e-mail addresses from your contacts (address) book. If the child account user (i.e. your child) tries to e-mail anyone who is not in the ALLOWED CONTACTS List an e-mail will be sent to the e-mail address: email@example.com, which is the Administrator's e-mail address in this case.
When you have compiled your list of allowed contacts (above) you can then, optionally, put a tick next to the SEND PERMISSION REQUEST TO option and type an Administrator's (parent's) e-mail address into the E-mail Address edit box. With this done it means whenever the child account tries to e-mail someone not in the ALLOWED CONTACTS List you, the administrator (parent), will be notified (e-mailed) about it and take the matter up with the child.
NOTE WELL - The restrictions (limitations) here only apply to the OS X (Mountain Lion) apps. Namely the Mail.app and Messages.app. A child could easily use GMail or Hotmail for example to e-mail who they like and use Skype or similar to message people. The reality for you to block/prevent your child from e-mailing/messaging total strangers for example would mean banning (blocking) all e-mail and messenger applications and websites; which unfortunately is near impossible these days with so many websites and applications out there. That's the reality of the ever growing internet/computer world. So to put this into perspective; Your child still has to be responsible enough to use the computer simply because you can only limit so much.
THE TIME LIMITS TAB SETTINGS
The settings on the TIME LIMITS Tab are more or less self-explanatory. You can limit the total number of hours the child is on the computer for both the week days and weekend days. So in this next example the child is limited to a maximum of 8 Hours per week on the computer - They can use up to 3 Hours maximum in the week (Monday to Friday) and up to 5 Hours maximum on the weekend. To clarify this; They could use 1 Hour on Monday, 1 Hour on Tuesday and 1 Hour on Wednesday but would then have no time remaining for Thursday and Friday. They would have to wait until the Weekend before they could use their 8 Hours allowance (i.e. use 4 Hours on Saturday and 4 Hours on Sunday). The hours can be mixed in other words.
The hours can also be increased and decreased by moving the relevant sliders (slider buttons) left or right. Further restrictions can be made by limiting the Bedtime Hours, which in practice can be used to further limit the daytime hours. You could change 20:00 to 13:00 for example.
THE OTHER TAB SETTINGS
The OTHER Tab allows you to limit the child account's use of Dictation (speech), Printing and CD/DVD Burning. Two good features here are the prevention of password change and use of inappropriate words in the Dictionary app.
Once you have set up Parental Controls to your liking the next step is to restart the computer so that you can test out your time limits, website limits and so on.
In the example below the child account has been prevented from visiting Amazon.co.uk, but has been allowed to visit Amazon.fr. This is because Amazon.co.uk has been listed in the NEVER ALLOW THESE WEBSITES list (Fig 2.2 above) whereas Amazon.fr has not. Furthermore, although Amazon.fr is not listed in the ALWAYS ALLOW THESE WEBSITES list it is still allowed by OS X (Mountain Lion) simply because OS X (Mountain Lion) has since found it to be safe to visit. In other words, any website listed in the ALWAYS ALLOW THESE WEBSITE list means you are telling OS X (Mountain Lion) to automatically trust them. Any websites not listed in either list are checked for safety before OS X (Mountain Lion) determines whether or not they should be allowed viewing access. Hence why the ALWAYS ALLOW THESE WEBSITES list should be taken as your list of Guaranteed Safe websites.
This next example shows a very basic looking dock and open folder with photo files inside it - Basic because of the USE SIMPLE FINDER setting being switched on (ticked) amongst other restrictions.
This final example shows what happens when the child account is running out of time. A requester pops up asking to add more time, which requires the Administrator Account password once extra time has been selected from the ADD MORE TIME drop-down menu.
With the kind of restrictions shown above the child account will find access to Networked Folders for example difficult, without the aid of the Administrator Account password, which is quite normal. They will need the Administrator Account password for all sorts of apps and settings too, as the time example above shows. And that is the whole idea of a limited account. Hence why for the first few hours/days you need to sit in front of your child and grant their limited account certain access and privileges. Once this has been done your child shouldn't be nagging you for the Administrator Account password all the time!