How to prevent your child from playing PC games during online classes

The fear of some parents: that online classes can be circumvented by playing on the PC games. Several people have written us about it, but the system to avoid it is already there: use family control.

“How do I prevent that instead of following the lessons my child plays on the PC?” More than one parent has written to us these days, alarmed by the idea that distance learning can be easily circumvented by unconscious pupils: while they should be listening to the teacher, they are spending time in front of the screen playing video games.

The main digital services have long integrated a range of options for configuring which applications and games children can run and for how long and on which devices. This applies, therefore, to the Microsoft ecosystem as well. Family control is included in Windows 10 and allows a parent to precisely determine the time slots when certain apps can or cannot be run, effectively preventing gaming at certain times using the PC. 

Create a Microsoft child account

To control which apps and games run and for how long on another Windows 10 device, such as the PC used by your children for study, you must first create a family group and invite members using the phone number or email address associated with the Microsoft account. In case your children do not have a Microsoft account, you need to create one. 

There are two types of accounts for minors: one in case the user is older than 13 years old and the other in case, on the contrary, he or she is younger than 13 years old. In the latter case, creating a new account will automatically ask which Microsoft account to refer to as a parent to complete the configuration; the newborn child account will automatically be added to the family group.

If, on the other hand, the son or daughter who is creating a Microsoft account is older than 13, the system gives him or her more autonomy. To complete the account configuration, for example, it is not necessary to enter the address of a parent, which means that the newborn account is not automatically added to the family group. To do so, the new user must accept the invitation that is delivered to the newly created email address. 

Once the account is set up, it is also necessary that it logs in on the device on which you want to place restrictions (the PC that will be used to take online classes, for example). 

If the child’s account has already been included in the family group, in the section “Settings > Account > Family and other users” you can enable in a few seconds the access of the new account to a multi-user device, i.e. where someone else is already logged in.

In this way, by logging in with their profile, the son or daughter will be able to access an independent space, where they can install the applications they need and possibly games, and separate from that of the parent or other users.

How to limit the time for games if your child is under 13 years old


The most important option to prevent your child from playing on the PC while they should be taking online classes is “app and game limits.” This setting is only available if the Microsoft account that needs to be checked has the “activity report and history” option enabled. 

If the child is under 13 years old, the parent can do this directly via the family group control panel. Once the “activity report and history” option is activated, you can proceed to activate “app and game limits”.

How to limit the time for games if your child is at least 13 years old

If the new account holder, on the other hand, is older than 13, then the “activity report and history” option, which is needed to impose restrictions on apps and games, can only be activated by the account itself.

This means that the child will have to cooperate. The most effective alternative is to manage the newborn account directly; the parent will have to create it and hide the access credentials from the child: the useful applications will have to be configured, leaving the child only the device to use at the ready. He or she will be able to browse online, download new apps (unless further restrictions apply), but will not be able to access the account or change settings.

In doing so, the parent will be able to activate, using the child’s account, the “activity and history report” option and then set usage limits for apps and games on the devices where the account is logged in.

How to limit the time for games on Windows 10

The parent can decide whether to block certain apps altogether (via the “Block apps” button) or decide how long and in which time slots they can be used both on weekdays and weekends. For example, a maximum of 2 hours between 6 pm and 9 pm from Monday to Friday. The control applies to each of the applications installed on the device.

Below is an example made with the video game Rocket League, installed on the device (a Windows 10 notebook) on which the son’s account was configured.

From the “content restrictions” section, the parent instead can determine what content to prohibit access to based on age classification.

In the case of an account that is not a system administrator, every installation is subject to the authorization of the device administrator: it will be necessary to enter the password or PIN to confirm the installation. 

In any case, new apps are added to the list in the “app and game limits” section: by checking this list you can limit further apps installed later.

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