One of the best gifts you can give a child today is a new computer. But you can’t just hand them the box and hope for the best. Kids need help getting their machine configured and ready for school and play. Here’s how to navigate the setup essentials.
Samsung recommends Windows® 8.
One of the first steps you’ll need to take when setting up a computer is configuring it for wireless access. In fact, it’s now part of the process when you load Windows® for the first time. If you’re connecting the computer to an existing wireless network, you’ll simply select the network from the list of those detected (either during setup or by clicking the wireless icon on the bottom right of the Windows interface) and enter the password for that network.
If you’re setting up a new network (like in a college student’s apartment), simply follow the instructions included with the router you’ve purchased. Each is different, but setup usually requires only a few simple steps through a set-up wizard program. No matter what, make sure the computer is using strong security to encrypt the wireless connection: WPA2 is currently the most secure standard available.
Along with wireless, you’ll also be prompted to create a user account and password when the new computer is initially configured. If you’re setting up a PC for younger kids, you’ll want to set up two accounts: One for you, and one for them. (You may even need multiple accounts if multiple kids are expected to use the same computer, and each wants his or her own playground.) Most parents will want to set their own account as “Administrator,” and the kids’ accounts as “Standard user” in the User Accounts Control Panel. That gives you, and not them, control over the most important Windows settings.
Anti-malware software to protect your child’s computer from viruses and other forms of malware is an essential next step. Numerous paid and free security programs are readily available online.
Finally, parents of younger children should consider installing parental controls. Parental controls do what the name implies: they let the parent set boundaries around the child’s use of the computer. Applications can be blocked, as can various websites, either based on their content or explicitly, on a domain-by-domain basis. With the Microsoft parental control system that’s included with Windows, parents can also opt to receive a weekly report emailed to them on the applications the child has used and websites visited during the week. Type “Parental Controls” at the start menu to get started with this process.
After installing the applications you think your child needs—from a word processor to his or her favorite games—you’ll want to get all of the software updated and patched. Set your kid’s computer to download updates automatically by configuring Windows Update from the Start menu. Windows Update will also update other Microsoft applications installed on the computer. Other programs can generally be set to update automatically, or updated manually from their respective Help or About menu.
Data is accidentally deleted. Computers are dropped and hard drives crash. In the hands of a child, both of these occurrences are all too common, so it’s essential that you set up a backup system to insure that those disasters don’t wipe out precious data, photos and music. Microsoft Windows includes a backup system (type “backup” at the Start menu to find it), or you can investigate many independent options. A wireless storage device or online backup system—neither of which requires the computer to be physically plugged in to a backup drive—usually make the most sense for a child’s PC.
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