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My 12-year old is addicted to Minecraft, which I don't mind so long as he does other things and his school work does not suffer. To help him, I want a monitoring program that will restrict his daily usage of certain programs.

This is not internet usage monitoring (though Youtube videos of people playing minecraft is also a problem but that can be restricted with NetNanny and such).

I have looked around but can only find programs that restrict internet usage and browsing habits. Are they any that will monitor usage of installed applications (this is on a family PC running Windows 7)? My price limit is about EUR 50.

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  • Take a look at Procrastitracker. It provides detailed program usage logs. – Michael Broughton Mar 22 '16 at 14:13
  • Do you have any price limit? – Izzy Mar 22 '16 at 15:54
  • I would say 50 quid tops. I have written a simple system try program that sort of does what I want but it has proven unreliable (seems to hang after a random period) and rather than spend the time debugging and improving it I am after an off-the-shelf alternative. If I can't find one I will just have to crack open the debugger! – user41013 Mar 23 '16 at 12:52
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    Looking at the related question "Computer time" monitor for children, I see two promising suggestions: the free but discontinued Timeout and Parental Control 2015 at 30 Euros. I will investigate these. – user41013 Mar 23 '16 at 13:09
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Take a look at Qustodio

While there primary focus is on protecting Internet activity, they also offer

Control Games & Apps
Set time limits for games & apps or block apps you don’t want from running altogether.

To set up time limits per application, go under the rules for the user, then the Application rules tab, and under there, you can set up time limits per application.enter image description here

Other Features

  • Works on Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Kindle and Nook
  • Different time limits for different devices
  • Free (for one device)

From my personal experience, I've been impressed with it so far.

  • A quick look at the web site seems promising. That it works across multiple devices also helps:one subscription across 2 tablets, 2 phones and 1 PC for around £35 seems very reasonable. I will try the free version. – user41013 Mar 28 '16 at 22:36
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I think I can now answer my question more usefully.

I tried Qustodio which looked promising but was too restrictive: once the computer time was used up with time-limited applications, access was completely locked, meaning the kids could not use any non-restricted stuff either. They also got no warning prior to the lock-up. On the plus side, it shares the allowance across devices (Android, iOS and full Windows) and so they couldn't just switch to another device and carry on.

I have reverted to ScreenTime on their android devices. This allows you to block specific apps after a certain time but still allow others and has various other limits for blocking apps during school hours or after lights-out. Unfortunately the time limit is not shared among their apps so they can switch to another device once their time is up and I just have to account for that by reducing the time allowed. ScreenTime plan to add this in the future but don't have a date yet.

On the PC, I have gone with Parental Control 2015, which again kills access to time-restricted applications once time is up but still allows other applications and web-pages. It has web filtering, can monitor multiple accounts and also has a nice feature where you can enforce an x-minute break after y-minutes of use.

Both ScreenTime and PC2015 have web-based management interfaces so I can pop online from work to see what they have been doing and adjust the time I allow them.

  • Qustodio does allow you to set time limits per application – Ryan Weaver Aug 18 '17 at 13:01
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If you are using Windows 7 Professional, you can use Group Policy. This is helpful if you have multiple computers connected to Active Directory,

Otherwise, if you're using Windows 7 Home Premium, you can use Family Safety/Parental Controls. To activate this, you can go to Control Panel>User Accounts and Family Safety. The account in question must be a standard account. You can set time limits, program limits, and web usage limits. This is free and comes built into Windows.

(Please note that these won't work on anyone smart enough to find backdoors into your PC, which is possible. A domain account would be easier to lock down and restrict but Parental Controls works fine too.)

Hope this helps,

  • Did you ever use this yourself? I tried the Windows built-in functions for my 4 year old son and it is simply not usable. UAC dialogs pop up everywhere, asking for credentials etc. – Thomas Weller Mar 28 '16 at 19:38
  • Yes, I have used this before. It's not the best but it works for some things. Remember I said that Group Policy works better (no UAC dialogs to deal with). – InterLinked Mar 28 '16 at 20:43

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