Monday, March 7, 2011

Parental Controls in Windows 7 Media Center

Our kids are getting old enough to be able to use our Media Center, so I have enabled parental controls to prevent them from seeing content that is inappropriate for them.  When we had used a TiVo DVR, we had used the parental control and were pretty pleased.  The Windows Media Center implementation of parental controls has several peculiarities:

  • With parental controls enabled, every time you start playing content, that has a rating higher than the specified threshold, you will get prompted for the PIN.  This happens even if you press stop, and then play on the same show.  (I like TiVo's implementation, where once you enter the PIN, parental controls will be disabled for a time, or until the DVR is turned off.)

  • While in the PIN entry screen, content is playing in the background.  So if you take a while to enter the PIN, you will have to rewind to not miss any of the content.

  • The parental controls setting is not applied to playing Netflix streaming content, even though Windows Media Center has had support for Netflix content for a while.  So it is possible that inappropriate content could be view through Windows Media Center's Netflix interface.  (One interesting thing is that the Xbox 360's Netflix streaming implementation respects the Xbox's parental controls setting.)