Features to allow parents, guardians and supervisors to monitor and restrict children and other dependents.
- Provide confidence and reassurance for parents
- Address common parental concerns, and cover the most obvious things we can do to make a computer appropriate for child-use
- Allow both hands-on and hands-off parental involvement. Cater to both tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy parents.
- For hands-on, parental controls and monitoring should be within easy reach - easily accessible from either the parent or the child's session
- For hands-off, it should be possible to setup parental controls once and be confident that the system will take care of itself
- Allow parents to monitor what children are doing with the computer:
- Quick overview at a glance: is everything OK?
- Make it possible to dive into the details if necessary: was Timmy playing a game when he was supposed to be doing his homework?
- Effectively inform children about the state of parental controls as it relates to their usage (eg. how much of their time budget is left)
- Don't interfere with system maintenance and core functionality: it should be possible for a child to be the sole primary user of a machine, and that machine continue to function normally.
- The computer may primarily belong to the child
- The computer may primarily belong to and be administered by the parent
- There could be a single child, or multiple children
- There could be a single parent, or multiple parents
- Not a UI for administering large-scale deployments, like classrooms
- Only admin accounts can set parental controls
- Parental controls cannot be set on admin accounts
- Administrator must authenticate/identify themselves using a password (rather than other auth methods)
- Design should be implementable in chunks
On Windows you can create child accounts. For these you are required to specify the birth date of the user.
Configuration then occurs online:
Screen time shows other family members, and you can control their screen time from your own:
Other restrictions are available from under screen time:
In some cases the supervisor may not be a parent (it could include other carers). However, "parental controls" is the established term for this feature, so it is hard to avoid.
Features which might not be initially in-scope, but could be interesting later:
- Set a bed time
- Remote monitoring: either through an app on a different device, a web page, or regular reports that are received by email
- Per-application usage limits
- Set daily limit for screen time; prevent the child from using the computer once this has been exceeded
- Block web browsers from accessing the internet
- Restrict a child from using certain apps
- Prevent a child from being able to install apps
- Restrict which apps are shown in Software by age rating
Components to the design:
Initial setup - to allow a parent to setup parental controls on a machine that primarily belongs to a child
User settings - to allow child accounts to be created, and parental controls turned on for them
Parental controls app - for monitoring child accounts and adjusting parental control settings
Screen time settings - where a child can see information about their usage, and how much screen time they have left