Editor's Note: Questions should be directed to the PC Doctor, care of the Athol Public Library at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Athol Public Library, 568 Main St., Athol, MA 01331, or dropped off at the library.
Dear PC Doctor:
We got a laptop for our family. Each of the kids has their own account. I would like to set up time limits so there's no arguing over who's hogging the computer, and also so I don't have to tell them to log off. Is there a way to do that?
This is a great idea! If it's an Apple product, you can set time limits by using the Parental Controls feature.
First, open System Preferences by clicking its icon in the dock, or by selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu. In the 'System' section of System Preferences, click the 'Parental Controls' icon. The Parental Controls preferences window will open. Click the lock icon in the bottom left-hand corner so that it looks unlocked. You will be prompted to provide an administrator user name and password before you can continue. Once you've entered them, click the 'OK' button.
The Parental Controls window has 2 sections. The left side lists all of the accounts. Select the one you wish to set up with Parental Controls from the list. Click the 'System' tab.
In the Weekday Time Limits section, check the 'Limit computer use to' box. Use the slider to set a time limit from 30 minutes to 8 hours of use in a single day. In the Weekend Time Limits section place a check mark in the 'Limit computer use to' box. Use the slider to set a time limit from 30 minutes to 8 hours of use in a single day. This will limit the total number of minutes or hours that the user can work on the computer in a given day. As the administrator, you will be able to override or change this whenever you need to.
To control weekday use, place a check mark next to the 'School nights' box. Click the hours or minutes in the first time field, and either type in a time or use the up/down arrow to set the beginning of the time when the computer may not be used. Repeat the above step for the second time field to set the end of the time when the computer may not be used.
To control weekend use, place a check mark next to the 'Weekend' box. Click the hours or minutes in the first time field, and either type in a time or use the up/down arrow to set the beginning of the time when the computer may not be used. Repeat the above step for the second time field to set the end of the time when the computer may not be used.
You can do this for each of your kids' accounts. You can set different limits for different children, taking into consideration the amount of homework they might have, maturity, bedtimes, and anything else that might be important in your family.
If you have a Windows 7 laptop, you can use Parental Controls to set limits on the hours that your children can use the computer.
First, log in with the account that has administrator privileges. Open your Control Panel. Choose User Accounts. Choose Manage Another Account. Select the account you want to set limits for. Choose Set Up Parental Controls. In the next window, under the heading Parental Controls, click the radio button next to On, enforce current settings. Under the Windows Settings heading, choose Time limits. Every time slot in white is allowed. Everything in blue is blocked. To block a time slot, click in the square to turn it blue. When you have set the time limits, click OK.
Until next time...happy computing!