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Old 07-24-10, 10:36 AM   #1
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Parental control/web monitoring software- worth it??

The eldest goes off to uni in a month, wife starts new job with insane O/T on Monday- and now I've got to decide if I should give up my newly acquired taste for bike commuting or figure out how to keep the kids halfway occupied until a more mature person can get home.

Thinking about possibly getting a cheap PC and setting each one of the kids up with their own user account, without admin rights of course. Unsure if I want to go with a full blown keyword blocker filter type (which may hinder homework ) or something that would allow me to monitor their activity.
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Old 07-24-10, 10:41 AM   #2
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OpenDNS
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Old 07-24-10, 12:29 PM   #3
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Looks promising. If I understand correctly, that OpenDNS is applied to the router and thus any device using the home network. Also looks like I can block everything, general categories, specific sites, or nothing at all. And adjust settings at will, but take a few minutes for those changes to go into effect.

So this might just work. Lock it down until I get home, then relax it so that me and the missus can view whatever we want, and then lock it back down before leaving in the morning. The power cord to kids' PC will be removed at their bedtime to prevent access while us old folks are a snoozing.
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Old 07-24-10, 02:02 PM   #4
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It's kind of an all-or-nothing approach at the router. The plus side to this is that it's relatively tamper-proof, depending on how you secure your devices from the inside.

If your router uses a dynamically assigned address from your ISP, your settings could be "lost". I believe there is a startup program available to reset it at the PC level. I recommend looking into that.
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Old 07-24-10, 05:03 PM   #5
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Norton Family Online

Its free and you can monitor it from anywhere. You can set age appropriate settings and customize it. It lets you know who, what where and when on anything online. I like it.
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Old 07-24-10, 06:11 PM   #6
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Norton Family Online

Its free and you can monitor it from anywhere. You can set age appropriate settings and customize it. It lets you know who, what where and when on anything online. I like it.
Is it a resource hog like their anti-virus?
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Old 07-24-10, 06:24 PM   #7
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Yeah, about the Norton... I perused the feature page. I was digging what I was reading- up until how Norton will send an e-mail alert when kid ignores warnings and/or visits blocked sites. <-- Very encouraging that......Not.
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Old 07-24-10, 10:39 PM   #8
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Norton Family Online

Its free and you can monitor it from anywhere. You can set age appropriate settings and customize it. It lets you know who, what where and when on anything online. I like it.
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Is it a resource hog like their anti-virus?
Not sure. I have had it about 5 months now and haven't had any troubles.
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Old 07-24-10, 10:42 PM   #9
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Yeah, about the Norton... I perused the feature page. I was digging what I was reading- up until how Norton will send an e-mail alert when kid ignores warnings and/or visits blocked sites. <-- Very encouraging that......Not.
It has a family minder that you download to each computer. It tells you when you log on that your activity is being monitored. I think that in itself keeps my kids from temptations.
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Old 07-24-10, 11:40 PM   #10
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I hate key loggers. Eblaster gets every single thing. It is dumb when pop-ups come up or you click on the wrong thing and you get busted for it.
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Old 07-25-10, 10:20 AM   #11
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Let your kids watch whatever porn they want... I grew up downloading porn on a 33.6k modem using AOL while my parents weren't home and I turned out mostly alright

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Old 07-25-10, 11:13 AM   #12
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A note about OpenDNS:

While the service does rock, its rather easy to bypass depending on how technologically savvy your kids are.

The best way to go about it is to put up redirection rules so that any DNS traffic going outside your network gets redirected to OpenDNS (or if it not going to OpenDNS, simply drop the traffic). Otherwise, your kids can just change the DNS setting on their computer and bypass it.

Of course if there's an open wireless network in the area, they can just connect their laptops to that and bypass your security measures entirely.

When I was 15 and we first got 256k DSL, I was fully capable of changing my DNS settings, but not bypassing firewall rules setup on the router, provided the router used a fairly secure password.
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Old 07-25-10, 11:13 AM   #13
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T'aint so much the viewing as the re-enactment of what they view.
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Old 07-25-10, 11:23 AM   #14
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A note about OpenDNS:

While the service does rock, its rather easy to bypass depending on how technologically savvy your kids are.

The best way to go about it is to put up redirection rules so that any DNS traffic going outside your network gets redirected to OpenDNS (or if it not going to OpenDNS, simply drop the traffic). Otherwise, your kids can just change the DNS setting on their computer and bypass it.

Of course if there's an open wireless network in the area, they can just connect their laptops to that and bypass your security measures entirely.
I'm running my cable ISP's signal to the wireless-N router, which is secured. Nobody who brings a wifi enabled device can access my home network without the key. 90% of the available networks that are within range are also secure (most of these are ATT DSL connections, as the people don't change the default name). The couple that are unsecured are on the fringe, and either can't keep a signal due to other leeches utilizing the connection, interference, or the owners are savvy enough to stop broadcasting the signal when they aren't online themselves (though not smart enough to secure it).
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Old 07-25-10, 11:32 AM   #15
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what ever happened to the parents asking their kids not to do stuff? and the kids listening to the parents? it worked really well for us. If its not working for parents these days it 'cause the parents are doing something wrong not the kids.
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Old 07-25-10, 12:14 PM   #16
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what ever happened to the parents asking their kids not to do stuff? and the kids listening to the parents? it worked really well for us. If its not working for parents these days it 'cause the parents are doing something wrong not the kids.
Not necessarily.

Growing up, I remember what discipline was like- groundings that equaled solitary confinement and spankings. I would on occasion (not very often) get whipped with either a belt, fly swatter, switch (from a tree/bush), or even a paddle my mom bought at a truck stop that says "Board of Education" on it.

At some point, there was a societal change in discipline- the so-called "spare the rod, spoil the child" theory that rewarded good behavior but did nothing for bad.

The school's started getting sued by parents of little one's who got spanked because the parent's couldn't/wouldn't believe that their little angel was capable of being a bad person. So the school districts (mostly, but not all) stopped the corporal punishment out of fear for being sued.

Then there is the influence of the media, advertising agencies, MTV, and video games...
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Old 07-25-10, 01:11 PM   #17
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My wife and I did none of the above, we never grounded them and we never hit them, not once. I'm very proud to say that we were way ahead of society as we were spareing the rod and spoiling the chilren before it was the "in thing," but what we think worked for us was unconditional love and talking to them, letting them know that there was nothing, absolutely nothing that they couldn't come to us with, we talked more than we did anything else and it worked. and you know that "don't be a friend be a parent" bull****? well its just that, TOTAL BULL****! My wife and I were and still are our girls best buds, and all is well in the life of our children because of it. =0) (did I mention unconditional love?) ;0)
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Old 07-25-10, 04:07 PM   #18
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Eh, different parenting philosophies. Not having been a parent yet, I can't comment on that.

Personally, I'm all for using OpenDNS to block the more malicious sites. Not necessarily intentionally browsing pornography, but more the unintentional stuff such as reaching phishing websites. OpenDNS is great for that.

OpenDNS doesn't actually block the HTTP traffic, which is what your computer downloads the websites with. It can control DNS traffic, which is what your computer uses to point bikeforums.net to the server it resides on. So a crafty kid could find the IP addresses for his favorite porn websites and plug them into a HOSTS file and browse the porn. To block the actual traffic, you'd need a web proxy. Either something installed on the router, another server, or the local computer (such as the Norton stuff).

It depends on how crafty your kids are. When I was 15, I could totally bypass this stuff, but my parents never tried blocking these websites. This was also back when AOL chatrooms and IRC were immensely popular. Now, only the true geeks know what IRC is.
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Old 07-25-10, 06:26 PM   #19
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I think I'll just the kids a Wii and be done with it. I'll just make it a wired connection to the router, and take the ethernet cable off when I'm not going to be home to prevent any unauthorized downloads/purchases.
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Old 07-25-10, 06:57 PM   #20
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Eh, different parenting philosophies. Not having been a parent yet, I can't comment on that.

Personally, I'm all for using OpenDNS to block the more malicious sites. Not necessarily intentionally browsing pornography, but more the unintentional stuff such as reaching phishing websites. OpenDNS is great for that.

OpenDNS doesn't actually block the HTTP traffic, which is what your computer downloads the websites with. It can control DNS traffic, which is what your computer uses to point bikeforums.net to the server it resides on. So a crafty kid could find the IP addresses for his favorite porn websites and plug them into a HOSTS file and browse the porn. To block the actual traffic, you'd need a web proxy. Either something installed on the router, another server, or the local computer (such as the Norton stuff).

It depends on how crafty your kids are. When I was 15, I could totally bypass this stuff, but my parents never tried blocking these websites. This was also back when AOL chatrooms and IRC were immensely popular. Now, only the true geeks know what IRC is.
All I can say is my kids listened to us, and it wasn't because we were perfect parents, it was because we listened to our children, and our children learned to do the same. If your afraid your kids are going to download or purchase stuff when you're away then somewhere along the line you failed. Sorry to be so blunt.
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Old 07-25-10, 09:22 PM   #21
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I listen to my kids and they listen as well. I still use corporal punishment. My kids are great but I was a teen and I know even good kids get tempted. I do not see anything wrong with having a program that monitors the sites they visit and who and when they are chatting. I think its all part of responsible parenting. They know I monitor them and it has never been an issue. In fact I know they like the accountability.
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Old 07-26-10, 09:08 PM   #22
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I think having a little exposure to all the crap online isn't necessarily bad. If your kids really want to access something, they'll find a way. One of their friends wont have a parental control set up, or they'll find some unsecured network, as suggested by another poster. My parents never really understood the internet like I did, growing up with it. I consider myself well versed online and detect phishing websites pretty easily.

Plus your kids will probably go to college, where the internet is not filtered at all (or at least at mine), and they'll watch all the porn you don't want them to see anyways.
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Old 07-27-10, 02:21 AM   #23
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what ever happened to the parents asking their kids not to do stuff? and the kids listening to the parents? it worked really well for us. If its not working for parents these days it 'cause the parents are doing something wrong not the kids.
In the case of internet, it's likely there will be some material you don't want coming through the tubes:

- Regardless of how well behaved the child is because many sites do absolutely zilch to keep the ads appropriate, etc
or
- Because it's very easy for a child to wander into places no one belongs, thinking little of it because of the anonymity and lack of apparent consequences.

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Plus your kids will probably go to college, where the internet is not filtered at all (or at least at mine), and they'll watch all the porn you don't want them to see anyways.
The older they are when they encounter certain things, the better the odds they'll be able to react to it in a mature manner. Parents still need to be teaching their children what goes on in the world and accept that ultimately their kids will have to make their own decisions, but there is a lot of crap out there that young people don't have the experience or wisdom to discern as realistic or appropriate.

Spending a modest amount of time listening to teenagers talk when they don't think anyone older is paying attention can be quite startling in what it reveals about the various things that influence their attitudes. Most of it is inane and harmless. Some of it's downright destructive.
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Old 07-27-10, 11:52 AM   #24
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My vote would be to find a way to log all the traffic. You could always hook up a cheap computer directly to the modem, then plug in the router through a 2nd network interface of the cheap computer.

I caught my roommate in college downloading porn (from his computer) using a packet sniffer I put together for a networking class project. It was funny to call him into my room, show him the packets as they were streaming, and then the reverse DNS lookup to a porn site. That'd be a little more difficult today since we were using a hub (which replicates packets across each line) instead of a switch.
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Old 07-27-10, 12:58 PM   #25
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My wife and I did none of the above, we never grounded them and we never hit them, not once. I'm very proud to say that we were way ahead of society as we were spareing the rod and spoiling the chilren before it was the "in thing," but what we think worked for us was unconditional love and talking to them, letting them know that there was nothing, absolutely nothing that they couldn't come to us with, we talked more than we did anything else and it worked. and you know that "don't be a friend be a parent" bull****? well its just that, TOTAL BULL****! My wife and I were and still are our girls best buds, and all is well in the life of our children because of it. =0) (did I mention unconditional love?) ;0)
I'm not sure if we agree or disagree on the friend vrs parent issue. I disagree strongly with it being a dicotomy. It is not one or the other, but I feel that if the roles come into conflict then parent comes first, not friend.

But perhaps this also speaks some ideas of friendship. A real friend is not the person who goes along with anything yuo want, even thnigs that are apt to get you killed. A real friend wants you alive, whole and unharmed, which sometimes means saying no.
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