OS X Lion is right around the corner and one of the most important capabilities for parents is to how they’ll be able to control the ways their computers are used by their children. Like previous versions of OS X, Apple has included Parental Controls in the latest version of their operating system.
Parental Controls are available at the account level that will allow you to restrict access to time on the computer, websites visited, who your children chat with, and what applications they use. The built in parental controls make it easier for Parents to be confident in the ways their children use technology.
Parental Controlled Accounts
To be able to set limitations or enable Parental Controls on an account, its recommended that when you create the account you set it to type “Managed with Parental Controls”. This will allow you to easily configure the account with the capabilities and limitations you want for your child.
With the addition of the Mac App store its become more important for parents to be able to limit the applications that children have access too. Now with Lion, the Parental Controls include Apps.
With the controls for Apps you can limit the applications available to Children as well as limit their ability of modify the Dock. Daycare centers and elementary schools around the world will absolutely love that feature!
The best part off this addition is that it shows you the rating of each of the apps installed. It would be create if you could set rules to automatically disable apps based on their rating but that doesn’t seem to be an included feature.
Limit Chats & Email
In OS X 10.7 Lion, you can limit your children’s ability to email people you don’t know. This also includes the ability to limit the people they chat with on iChat. If you plan on using this service its a good idea to block websites that have chat built in so that your children are forced to use iChat and the settings you’ve configured for them.
One of the most important features for parents is the ability to limit children’s time with technology. Without these limits kids will often spend all day playing games and browsing the internet. To help you end fights with your children about their time online you can simply set a time limit with Parental Controls on Lion.
These controls include the time during the day that the accounts can be used or the number of hours in a day that the computer account can be utilized.
Restrict Web Access
OS X Lion includes the ability to restrict access to websites. More importantly it also includes the ability to access the logs of the sites your children visit. If you’re really interested in blocking access to specific types of content on the web, I’d suggest utilizing OpenDNS at the router level. This will block access on your iPhone, iPad, and other internet ready devices your children may have access too.
Overall, the parental controls on OS X Lion are a great start. Utilizing these tools will help you keep control over your children’s internet and computer use and provide you with more insight into what they’re doing online.
If you’re looking for more advanced protection in your open consider Router Level controls like OpenDNS.