Kids, internet, Steam, and PCs

So as I mentioned in another thread, I’m finally getting the boys PCs of their own. They will be on our home network in one fashion or another (they might need to be on WiFi as opposed to CAT cable for the first month or so until I get that sorted). To this point, the gaming system they have both had (ages 10 and 12) have been Nintendo Switches, which have fantastic parental controls that I can access via my phone to turn on and off their gameplay time, adjust overall daily time limits, and set evening cutoff times.

With the PCs, I would like to have similar controls over their content with regards to limiting the age suitability of the content they can view, and have some control over what they can download. Is this a router software type solution or PC based software or some combination of the two ya’ think? Ideally, I’d like to be able to control things via my PC as sort of the master unit.

I’d also like to set them up Steam accounts so I can buy them games. Has anyone had any experience with multiple Steam accounts in their family?

I still have a few weeks to get all this sorted, but would like to start off with the controls in place otherwise it will feel like I’m taking away stuff from them rather than granting them more freedom as they mature.

Also - if anyone has any suggestions on some good multiplayer Steam games that would be fun for the three of us (I guess my wife could have a Steam account too though!)…I’m open to suggestions. Yes, we will be playing MSFS and DCS World… :wink: But it would be fun to play some coop stuff together. It is a tricky age though…10 years old for the youngest. I’m not ready to have him playing things like Arma, so they would have to be more like adventure games.


Chris. Seriously be careful letting them browse steam on their own. There is A LOT of sex games and porno games on there now. I toyed with setting my boy up one so I could do the same as you and couldn’t figure out anyway to block that content entirely. I would be very cautious with steam as a content platform. Despite it ubiquity in our world, I really don’t see it as a child friendly platform.

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You can block access to the store (and also social features etc) for your children. You need to make the account yourself and then go to settings and then family and select what content should be blocked, with a parental PIN code to unlock the full functionality.


You will have to combine router level and PC level solutions.

One thing you can do is use the Google Family system, setting yourself as parent and making them child accounts. Then you can sign them in to Google Chrome and you have some parental control that can also extend to Youtube, etc. If you go this route make sure to fully read how it works because it’s a total PITA to move a child account to a “adult” (self regulated) account early if so desired / needed.

Internet browsing in this day and age is a complicated matter because any consumer router based filtering will almost certainly extend to only unencrypted (HTTP) connections and cannot function on encrypted (HTTPS) connections - if they could so easily, encryption would be pointless and much of the things we trust to the net these days likely wouldn’t be.

At the enterprise level you can get firewalls that can play man in the middle on encrypted connections, but this setup is more technically involved and usually requires exceptions for known-good sites like banks.

This is where software comes in because it’s on the end of the line where the encryption ends, such as the Chrome browser.

You can certainly use the router to define things such as time-based access.

Another option is to use OpenDNS at the router, with the PCs by default taking the router as their DNS server. This can effectively block some web content by making it fail to find the server addresses. However, there is a limit here too as DNS is also slowly moving behind encryption but support is not widespread yet. For your own devices, you can manually set your DNS servers so that you aren’t subject to the restrictions. You can also do so in reverse - set the kids up with OpenDNS and let the rest of your devices work normally.


You can use something like openDNS to restrict, I used to use this to semi protect our kids. Here’s a how to…

Ultimately educating them on the perils/joys of the internet is something to spend a fair bit of time doing. Here in the UK, being safe online is now part of the curriculum.

I know you want to protect them, but eventually they will get round your security and/or see stuff outside of the home, so best to be prepared.

Steam games, it’s difficult as they all want to play fortnite/CoD.

I resisted until I couldn’t anymore, which was around the time Modern warfare 2 came out.

In the end, I played the campaign with him in co-op and spent a lot of time playing split screen with him online. He was way better than me and used to save my skin most times.

Taking this approach, I was able to bond with him, spending a lot of time with him and be a cool Dad. It was him who always suggesting to mute everyone as he didn’t want to hear the older kids f-bombs when he shot them.

The other game we played a lot of was FIFA. Doing coop careers etc.

Good luck in whatever path you take.


Thanks for the cautions. I’ll see what in-platform tools they offer - and if that doesn’t work I might have to go with stand-alone game installs from places like GOG or whatever.

I’ll explore that - I’m curious if it would allow two users to play at the same time though - it looks like this is sort of setting up a family plan that allows you to control access of family members, but they are sharing selected titles from your library, so if we both (or all three of us) wanted to play the same title at the same time…I suspect it would not allow for that.

Thanks for those suggestions @Wes, I will have to explore both options. Ideally, as a parent, I’m hoping to just be able to pop into their rooms and trust that they know what is right and wrong. We have a good relationship, but I remember my pre-teen years and can only imagine what kind of trouble I would have gotten into at that age with the technology and information at my fingertips that they have available. I flirted enough with trouble in the Commodore 64 BBS days…so I can only imagine… :see_no_evil:

Thata what I’ve decided to do for now as my kids are so young I think the burden of responsibility falls to me a lot more and I think I will be dictating what they play till they are a lot older.
I’m not tech savvy enough to be able to put proper safeguards in place and with your older children they are always going to want to explore and find the new cool things out for yourself. With proper management and patience they should be OK though, from what you’ve told us on here they seem like well adjusted kids. That goes a long way with the trust side as well.


It won’t indeed. My idea would have been that you created new accounts for the boys on your own machine, get the games you wanted to play together and then share those accounts with them using the family mode. That way you can keep them out of the store and also make sure no strangers can add them and talk with them.


I would look at it like you can create brand new account and manage the family thing there, while you will have your own og account for yourself.

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You may also be able to get similar control in Windows by making them Microsoft accounts and using those for their Windows logon.

Similarly, you setup the PC with your own Microsoft account, which will be administrator and make them standard users - so you have to authorize setting and software changes.

That may be a bit over the top for your desires, but the more controls you invest in the more of an IT manager you have to be.


A lot of out of work IT people these days… :thinking: …maybe I can hire one to “virtually” babysit my kids… :rofl:

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Check this out:

Fall Guys should be a good option, there’s no chat, no custom names with questionable shapes in them, etc.

Astroneer is solid as well and has co-op.


I would recommend Rocket League. It’s free to play at the Epic Games store.


With chat off.


Always hated the parent snoop packages out there. Total invasion of privacy IMHO, and been preaching my concerns of Big Brother to my kids forever, so did not install anything.

I trusted them. Never did look at the router logs. They grew up. None are in jail. Think I did ok.


Good on ya @piper. Just finished watching “Arkangel” on the Black Mirror series … having total control of the kid didn’t work out well for mom. :frowning:

Rocket League is great but DO NOT LET THE KIDS PLAY ONLINE!

I’m 54 and a bit of a Rocket League addict myself. Do you want your kid playing Rocket League with me? I’m not a perv or anything but I give no quarter. :slight_smile:

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Just disable their chat. I don’t even like having it on lol.

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Dude, mind games in gameplay abound!

Yeah, turn off the chat and you don’t have to see toxic chat and voice comms in-game don’t really work anyway.

Anyway, Beach’s family can play 2v2 rocket league anyway. I think you can share share. Two people on each computer. As along as you hook up two controllers to each computer, I guess.

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