Parental Controls in Mac OS X 10.5

What Do the Parental Controls on Mac OS X 10.5 Allow Me To Do?

Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) is the second-most current version of Apple's operating system. Their newest version, Mac OS X 10.5 (Snow Leopard) was released in August 2009. If you use a Mac but haven't chosen to upgrade to Snow Leopard, this is probably the OS your computer uses. Other recent versions of Mac OS X should look pretty similar to 10.5, so this article may help you even if your OS is slightly older than Leopard.

Mac OS X 10.5 comes with a free package of basic parental control software. These controls allow you to limit which Mac applications your child can use, set a basic Web filter on your child's Internet, set time limits for your child's computer use, and can send you a report of your child's online activity.

How Do I Set Up the Parental Controls That Come With My Mac?

Start by clicking on the System Preferences icon on your dock (the box-shaped picture of the silver gears). You should then be taken a window that looks like the screenshot above.

Be sure that you've selected the correct child before you start making changes. Sixteen- year-old Keats, in this case, will require different settings than his seven-year-old sister, Shelley, will.

The System tab allows you to pick and choose which Mac applications your child can use. If a computer is intended solely for homework, for example, you may want to remove such applications as iTunes and GarageBand. It's more likely, however, that you would use this option to simplify computer use for young users. You can remove all the programs young children would have no need of to make computer use less confusing for youngsters.

The Content tab allows you to do several things. First, you can filter the Dictionary application that comes with your Mac. This dictionary is pretty inclusive; i.e., a child could type in various profane or sexual queries in and receive detailed answers to his or her questions. Choosing this option will give your child censored dictionary access.

The website restrictions section allows you to set limits on your child's web use through a content filter as well as whitelisting and blacklisting options. Clicking the filter option simply means that your Mac will make an effort to deny access to sites containing pornography. The whitelist is the list of websites you tell your computer to always allow, and the blacklist is the list of websites you tell your computer to always block. Mac even gives a list of a suggested whitelist full of fun, wholesome, educational sites appropriate for young children.

The Mail & iChat tab provides for whitelisting and blacklisting of contacts. This feature allows you to choose a specific list of people your child is allowed to chat with, email, or instant message.

The Time Limits tab lets you monitor how much time your kids spend on the computer each day. You can set the limit from as low as thirty minutes or as high as eight hours per day. Notice that you have the option to set different limits for weekdays and weekends.

You can also set restrictions on when your kids can be on the computer. Again, Mac lets you set different limits for weekends and school nights.

Logs is a powerful option that helps you keep tabs on your kids' computer use. Your computer will keep a record of everything your child does on the computer and allow you to review everything. Basically, the logs tab offers you a free monitoring package.