Slightly OT- Looking for recomendations on parental control software

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As I said, slightly OT, but if I post on computer board I will get tech specs & geek talk. and I am just interested in hearing recomendations from parents who may be using parental control software on their home computers to protect their kids from the untowards places on the internet.
I am running windows xp home edition, take internet to laptop and a desktop from a router, comes in on DSL.
I am thinking the very limitiing kind would suit my needs, like the kind that only allows kids to go to pre-approved sites... I am guessing a kid would request a site and the parent would have to authorize that specific site.
Another nice feature would be to turn off internet access all together... to save the "I need the laptop to type a paper for school" but then trolling the web when I am not looking.
BTW- all you superparents who are tempted to give me the old "my kid would never think of doing that anything wrong online.. " or "If I caught my kid doing something like that I would hit him so hard with the ol' belt his butt would bleed for a week" stuff. We are not all uberparents like you are.. (or represent yourselves as) so some of us need a little advice every now and then.. so just save the lecture, if you have nothing relevant to say on this topic.. hold the parenting advise..
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I use the safe search that is available with google. Although my son is only 4 (and I say that with a grain of salt, the little smart butt) That along with me hovering over his shoulder when he is on NICK.com!
I use the parental controls on the TV in his bedroom to block just about everything. He knows he's not allowed to watch Billy and MAndy, but that gets through the block by being G = rated. SO I trust(ed) him not to watch it, well one day I pretented I was sleeping when he came in the bedroom, I got the "dad, DAD, daddy, when I didn't answer he softly walked out of the room and procedded to turn on that show!, I got him dead to rights. His reaction was sheer surprise, and then a lie "I was just seeing what was on, that is the dumb show I'm not allowed to watch" He dosn't do that anymore, so I beleive!?! So, your kids can and will try their best to circumvent your authority and try to get away with things.
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not if you express that you are a novice.... ok, they still would, but some would *attempt* to speak plainly. ;)

I'm not a parent, nor do i use filtering software, but here are some ideas that will work for at various parts of your query:
1: unplug router when kid is using it "just for papers". Pro: Defeats all attempts at accessing web/instant message/etc. CON: no internet for the desktop either
2: note, this solution might be too geeky, sorry. Check your router manual to see if it has built in filters. (I've seen them filter on keywords, time of day, sites, content, etc) This solution is good because it isn't browser based. (not linked to internet explorer, or firefox, or mozilla, so they cannot just switch browsers to get around it.)
3: If the child is running on an account with administrator, they can likely undo anything you do to stop them, so make a separate login ID for the kid(s) and make sure it(they) is a (are) "normal user" account(s), not administrator. Also make sure they don't know any administrator account password. You should be able to do this fairly easily: start button->control panel->user accounts While you are at it, make yourself a normal user acount and only use that for your use unless installing programs. Doing this will help your computer stay safer (not 100%) from viruses and spyware.
4: http://www.phptr.com/articles/article.asp?p82613&seqNum=4&rl=1 tells you how to "whitelist" certain sites, but only in firefox. If you can limit access to internet explorer, this might work. (there is a walkthrough, but i havn't done it, so i cannot say if it's easy/correct.)
5: If you only have internet explorer on, go to: tools menu->internet options->content tab. There is a content advisor there that might be helpful. You can enable that and it might do most of what you need.
If these ideas are too geekspeak for you, email me privately, and i'll try to help you further... it's late and my "put myself in your shoes" calibration might be off. You should post a public followup here once you've figured things out.
--
May no harm befall you,
flip
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
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On 11 Apr 2006 01:03:27 -0400, Philip Lewis

Why do so many rely on a router? This is home.repair . Run the cable to your computer and you won't need the router when you don't want to use it.

NO ONE in the family should run as an administrator. That account should only be used druing software installation. Then the person should log off and log on as a user without admin priveleges. That means that if there is a virus, it won't be able to install itself then. (Whether it can lurk until the next time you log on as an administrator is a question I haven't seen asked. Check on it.)
Net Nanny. I used to know another famous one, but I forget. Haven't used any.
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A router is the simplest method to allow multiple computers to have access to the internet at the same time... Technically, you could have one machine sharing its connection for other machines, but that's not as simple as a dedicated router... Routers also filter out certain types of viruses / attacks even before they get to your computers... Even if I only had one machine at home, I would still have a router...
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On Tue, 11 Apr 2006 08:50:43 GMT, "Grumman-581"

How would you make sure your children weren't using the net for bad stuff, as with the OP's problem? (According to him you're not allowed to say, My kids wouldn't do that. OR I'd string them up by their thumbs and they know it, so they're afraid to do it.
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Which is why I continued in my original message:

Note, that an account can be an administrator account without being named administrator.
In fact, one of the security things to do is to disable the administrator account after making another account an admin. That way, an attacker won't know which account has the "good access".
Finally, a neat trick: Hold the shift key down and right click on the install program. You should see a "Run As" option on the menu. Choose that and you can run the install program as administrator (or any account to which you know the password) without logging out of your account. (Assuming you don't have switch user installed.)
--
May no harm befall you,
flip
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On 11 Apr 2006 09:42:25 -0400, Philip Lewis

OOps. Very sorry. I did read the whole post but managed to miss these three lines. Probably too eager to show how smart I was. Skit's law.

Uh huh!

I'll try to remember this one too, for the time if ever I actually have more than win98.
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Definately Off-Topic, but I'm sure it is of concern to many parents here, so here goes...
I tried Net Nanny (latest version) but didn't like it much. I also have a 4 year old, and a 5 year old who can presently run rings around most of his teachers when it comes to computers. The software I pefered, and decided to finally buy is ChildControl 2006. Very nice, very flexible, and has all sorts of neat features. Best part is that once you setup one child, you can easily copy the settings over and apply them to another child, without redoing everything from scratch.
Has everything from time limits (for each day, Daily internet usage, and Daily PC usage, and even Time of Day permitted). So on some days you can set the PC to be used for slightly longer (weekends), but limit internet usage to whatever you want. All sorts of filtering, logging, and limitting functions (like no control panel options, registry editing, changing system clock, etc...) You can even define how long a particular .EXE applications (or group of them) can be run for . You can hide certain directories/drives which you don't want to be accessible to the child. Also completely integrated with Windows User logins, so you don't need to have a user login, and then an internet sign in login.
Also one nice feature I like is the option of issuing one time, time extension codes, and printing them. So you generate a couple of time extension codes (for predetermined amounts of time), print them out, and then when they need an extension for PC or Internet usage for schoolwork, or as a bonus, you can just give them the code to use when thier time is about to expire. Code can only be used once, and you don't need to physically enter your password in order to extend it. I have printed a few 30 minute codes, and occasionally give the kids one, when they are good as a small reward. Later on, they can get them to extend thier time if they have some research to do.
Various logging options, and very simple to setup compared to other products. And best part, you can set all the limits, even if the kids have Administrator priviledges, they still can't override the restrictions.
http://www.salfeld.com/software/childcontrol/index.html
Thumbs up for them. And best of all they have 30 day evaluation version online so you can try before you buy. Resonably priced at $29.99 for a sigle license, and $59.99 for multi-license (up to 5 PC).
Just a happy customer...
wrote:

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I would ask what they use at your local library. There is a ton of knowledge on the internet. It would be great if kids could access this knowledge. Many libraries have had problems in this area.
Also search google.com for parental control software
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aol has excellent aol for kids with customizable acess like e mail only from others you know, another nice thing it not only blocks sites but sends a daily report to the parent about time on line and where the kid went on line times can be limited too
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two words.... keystroke logger. a must have for monitoring the computer. i used to have a program called winguardian on the old computer(windows 98),but it is no longer in production. the screen shot every 5 min,event and keystroke logger kept the kids honest.

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If I may give a qualified, professional answer-
There is no software that will stop them from doing whatever it is they want to do. None of those things will be 100% and in most cases it will only slow them down. Remember when you were their age- try to think what your same-aged self would do. There are thousands of ways around stuff like NetNanny. Make no presuppositions about gender- the girls are just as bad as boys- maybe even worse because they don't always feel like they're constantly under investigation.
This is my part of the answer that nobody likes to hear:
This is entirely a Parenting issue.
Which means, you have to either completely disable their access to the network, or just about sit there and watch over their shoulder if you want to be sure. Raising your children, teaching them right and wrong is YOUR job, not the job of some software. I'm not on your case about it, just pointing it out.
This is the part of my answer that disappoints everyone:
Nowadays with junkmail, malware, porn dialers and such things, you may find or see 'suspect' stuff on the computer, and they (your kids) might be completely innocent. Understand that their email accounts will get the "cUm 0n .my t1t$" emails no differently than yours, so you may have to weed through their email first before they read it.
This is the part of my answer nobody likes:
They're going to seek out 'questionable' material anyways. Once again, remember when you were their age. Remember sneaking peeks at Hustler and Playboy when you were 9, etc.
The more important thing is to keep them safe from predators or freaks. And the hard part for a parent will be to determine what's actually threatening activity/behavior and what isn't. You have to know what to watch for and what to ignore, and it's not always obvious, but some common sense and proper perspective will take you a long way.
I might be able to elaborate on this later, but i'm out of time for now.
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And I'm still disappointed that women don't come with staples in their navels... <dirty-old-man-grin>
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1) Cyberpatrol. Easy to use once it is set-up. Actually the set-up is not that tough either. Primary reason for it is that I can restrict the amount of time they have access to the internet on a per day basis, as well as hours of access to the internet (for example from 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. ONLY each day....or different hours for different days of the week). As well as set weekly limits.
CP also allow you to filter/block websites, block kids from giving out information (street names, phone numbers, etc.).
It also allows quick overrides, etc. Check out google if you want to find the program.
2) PC Tattletale. This is a big dog spyware program. It can monitor everything from exact keystrokes to e-mails, programs run, windows open. It captures screenshots, Records IM and chat, etc.
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snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com writes:

WARNING: opinionated rant ahead.
So, Along these lines... if you *do* install any of these invasion of privacy, I mean "monitoring" software programs (not site blockers or content blockers which disable site access.... I'm talking about the spying stuff--- screenshots, keystroke loggers, etc), make sure it's with full disclosure to your kids.
If you tell them that the monitoring is a condition of access, and they accept that condition, then you will not have broken any trust. (They may not like it, but they can choose not to use the computer at home.)
There is nothing more likely to undermine the trust that you have with your child, than for them to find out you've been spying on them. If your kids don't trust you, they may not come to you when they have a real problem. Mind you, what message are you telling your child when you tell them that you are spying on them? Obviously that *you* don't trust them.
--
May no harm befall you,
flip
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
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There is nothing more likely to undermine the trust that you have with your child, than for them to find out you've been spying on them. If your kids don't trust you, they may not come to you when they have a real problem. Mind you, what message are you telling your child when you tell them that you are spying on them? Obviously that *you* don't trust them.

Ah, and the debate that arises everytime this subject comes up. And, I actually agree with it to a point.
In most cases, I think the "spyware" programs such as PCTattletale, etc. are totally NOT appropriate. But, in some limited instances, when a child has a history of behavior that puts himself at high-risk and said child takes great pains to hide said behavior from parents, then it may be time to consider invasive techniques.
Obviously one of those "until you've walked in said parent's moccassins" sort of debate.
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1 more question, and a point.
1, you computer guys are great to give these tips, I appreciate it. Let me ask you this though, is there a way to just set up an account on XP that will not connect with the internet (any network). That way when the kid does have to do homework I could log them on that one account, and not have to monitor as closely, as the kid would have the choice of typing the paper, or playing solitaire, but not going online?
My point: It is different now then stealing glances at girly mags, as you talk about. Now the access is to hard-core stuff that can't be good for a young, developing minds. i am no psychiatrist, just a parent going with his gut feeling on this one. . And if it is in my power to put out there a few less bad choices, realizing there are ways to get it, but at least having a sanctuary from it in the home, I am thinking that is probably worth the effort. Others may feel differently.. but at least you know where I stand.
Also, I am not really interested in keystroke loggers, although they clearly are valuable tools, I am less interested in "catching" my kid, and more interested in taking one option of making a bad choice away, making it just a little easier for them to make it through the day. Again, that is how I look at it, others may feel differently
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Quick Answer: If you set up the non administrator account, you can log in as administrator, and disable the network adaptor. (Right click network Neighborhood and choose properties. Right click on the adapter and choose disable)
I'm fairly certain a non admin account cannot enable it.
Not exactly what you wanted... but close.
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flip
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What makes you believe your parents need to be controlled?
<g>
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