Saturday, February 9, 2013

Parental Control Online.

I've been having some trouble with Walter lately. Smart-mouthed, sneaky, inappropriate computer using, lying little Walter.

Last week, he choke slammed his brother and lied about it. I'm not surprised, the boy doesn't tell the truth about anything even when caught red handed. Lucky for me, he's nowhere near as much of an accomplished liar as Thing1 which means I have no doubts when this boy is lying. None. It's all right there, plain as day. His punishment (for lying, not choke slamming his brother) was washing walls and detail cleaning 1/2 of the kitchen. I keep telling my kids they get in more trouble for lying to me than they would for what they are lying about but this one just refuses to catch on. He thinks at some point he will start getting away with it, I think.

A few mornings ago, I woke up and walked into the kitchen to an empty table. where my laptop should have been. nothing. I hollar at Walter, being the second one up, the first with no laptop of his own, "where is my laptop?"
"I don't know, I didn't have it."
"Really? You're going to lie to me?"
"Mom. don't you think I learned my lesson from lying to you!?"
No. I know better because I know when my boy is lying. and he is.

I'm thinking about what to do about it. I know there must be an unsavory reason for him having my computer when he knows he shouldn't have it but I'm not sure what to do about it. So, I'm thinking.

Sometime before yesterday (since I keep forgetting to check my blog e-mail) I got an e-mail from someone wanting me to check out Gecko Monitor and look at a few internet safety related posts they've done. Now, I can't tell you much about them other than telling you to ignore anything they say about autism, they have a Google pagerank of 3, and a lot of people are talking about them. I read their site and it looks... well, go see. Thinking about bosses remotely seeing every keystroke and screenshot is more than a little creepy and thinking about who has access to your computer content is a little unsettling, especially when my whole professional (don't laugh) world is my laptop and all of the intellectual content (do. not. laugh.) is my words on my laptop until I'm ready to publish... but when I thought about what I could do with Walter... *evil grin*.

I talked to my friend about my thoughts and need to get Walter on at least a long leash she asked me what I've done so far. Nothing. What can I do? Then she smacks me with some common sense.

I created 3 user accounts on my laptop (hit the "start" button, search "parental controls"). one for me, one for Walter and one for Goofy. No one has the passwords but me. they have to come to me to log them in. The computer stays at my table (that's always been the rule, it's just not followed by *cough* some) in the kitchen. If both of those fail, or I can't watch everything they are doing, I made use of the parental controls in the user setup (see above). Then since you can control time and game ratings but not what's online, I went to the Internet Content place ("tools", "Internet Options", "Content") and the second one down ("Content advisor") allows you to restrict what they see online. All password protected.

The PITA part of that is you also restrict yourself. Apparently, you can't do internet settings for individual users. and then it blocks stupid things like AOL and blogger (really? what's up with blocking blogger?) and you have to keep putting your password in to unblock your own sites. Then every time you google something, you have to put in your password to unblock what you want to read. and then once you unblock ("always" because I'm too lazy to enter my password every single time) for yourself, you unblock for them.

The good thing about universal restriction is when I walk away logged in, like I just did, and the Goofy one jumps on, like he just did, he still can't have access to sites I don't think he should be seeing. The only thing I know for sure this is going to take care of are the questionable sites that keep popping up in my browser history and it might stop the little one from clicking on everything he sees.

The final step I took (so far) in getting on top of this whole I'm going to do what I want to do on the internet and you can't stop me BS is reading the Gecko site to Walter. I told him what it was, how it worked and that this will all happen stealthily, without the user knowing they are being monitored, and the logs/reports can be accessed at any time with a secret key combination and password, or emailed to the parent. He gets the idea. clearly. Booyah. Mom wins. (hopefully)

...just in case... any other suggestions?


  1. Other than a locked box for the computer, which would be even less convenient, This sounds like a pretty fair solution. Or you could lock the kids, wait, that tends to cause more trouble in the long run. :)

  2. I finally just gave up on the parental security thing on the computer. My son could always get around it. Now he's the one who monitors all our computer websites we go on in the house and has some kind of firewall set up and a huge noisy server downstairs that he's backed up all our computers too. I only caught him on questionable sites once when he was in 9th or 10th grade. And he lied about it. Sorry I'm no help at all! Good luck!

  3. I have similar problem with my 16 year old son who has ADHD. Okay truth be told I have similar problem myself - but it's more because the hyper-focus part of me kicks in when there's chores to be done and I should be going to bed early.

    I used BSecure and while it didn't record every keystroke (I think) it did have user accounts, had default age restrictions or you could custom pick the restrictions. Unfortunately though if you allowed YouTube you allowed all of YouTube. It also had time restrictions which was good. And bad. Good because all of a sudden it's 11pm and you're like oh wow I just went on to check my email. Bad because there was no warning - it just shut down the web. Couldn't even bookmark the site you were on.

    The worst (aka frustrating) part was when you wanted to use someone else's Wi-Fi. For example we were at a hotel and I couldn't get onto BSecure because I couldn't log in to the hotel wi-fi because BSecure was blocking it.

    Another Good Bad thing was the notifications - Good thing was it sent emails (or even text messages if you set it up that way) showing you what sites the users were on, objectionable words, amount of time on each site, etc. Bad because it picked out every "bad" word on the website. And I've seen my son's Facebook account - he doesn't use the bad words but either his 'friends' do. I finally turned off the notifications because I would get over 50 a day. Definitely gave me opportunity to talk about his "friends" though.

    The main reason though I had bought the program was because it covered ALL internet devices in your home. iPod, Wii, etc. You just need to change the IP address you use to their address so it can 'screen' the screens (pun semi-intended). Except for me... turns out the IP address (I'm not totally a techie so that may be the wrong term)for the modem we got from our service provider can NOT be changed. So I paid $50 for a program that only covered 2 of our 5 devices. Then I found out that Windows 7 had similar built-in so I used that and gave the BSecure to my friend.

    And the $50 is only for the year. Didn't know that when I signed up either. And he hacked my password a few times, changed times when I inadvertently left myself logged in, etc. Then I realized one night - hey it didn't log me off. Went to find out why and it was gone. Turns out my son had gone into the Programs feature and uninstalled it. Why does he use his knowledge just for evil i posted on my FB wall. that lead to... well that would be another post if I was a blogger...

    All this to say - if you figure something out please let me know.

  4. Ug, I dread this upcoming phase of parenting. The porn, the world out there is so awful for tender minds. I want to protect my children from inter-racial ball gag poop sex for as long as humanly possible. Good luck.

  5. This is a tricky one because blocking something causes great explosions from James. I mean ones where the computer is in dire peril! We used to have all three computers upstairs in the loft but now that I can't do stairs, I have mine downstairs so can't really monitor everything James is looking at. He hasn't figured out that I have supersonic ears so if I hear something questionable, he is told to change it. Not sure what it is going to be like when he hits puberty. I guess the thing that I have working in my favor is that he is socially delayed enough that I may have a few more years to have my sweet innocent boy before ... YIKES, don't even want to go there!!