Computer Filters

We are planning on setting up a computer for the kids to use, probably once we get down to Monsey full time. The school my boys attend here doesn’t require the boys to do any online research, or much homework at all, so they have no pressing reason to be online. I allow them to check email a few times a week, but am always watching where they go online. Maybe I am a little over protective in this regard, but knowing what’s out there, monitoring them isn’t so wrong.

The schools they will be attending will need more from the kids in the way of homework and research papers and projects and won’t be anti-internet. So the boys will need access to the ‘net. I want them to not feel I am looking over their shoulder all the time, but not be free to go wherever they want to online.

I know there are filters out there that you can tailor to fit your personal preferences – and that can text you or email you when the child tries to access a site he is not cleared for. KoD set one of those up for friends, and he has the technological know how and experience to set this up for us. (phew, because there are some things which this mama cannot do). Which filters do you use, how easy are they for the kids to hack, how easy are they for me to use, if I want to change access to a denied page for the kids? Someone once suggested to me that installing filters means you don’t trust your child to follow your rules. I do trust my children, but I know how much temptation there is out there in cyberspace and I would hate for any of our kids to get sucked into something that they don’t know how to handle.

I guess each child would have different access permissions? Can you set it up like that? What do you do in your house? How does it work? And let me just add on another question. With four kids in the house full time, the other 3 there sometimes – how do you set up a computer schedule so that everyone is happy, without resorting to buying a few laptops?

Thanks.

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  1. Lion of Zion says:

    i don’t know anything about filters but i had to laugh at this line: “I do trust my children.”

    i don’t have the extent of parenting experience you have, but from my own childhood i know never to trust kids (and i wasn’t even that bad)

    good luck

    • HSaboMilner says:

      perhaps I should have specified that I trust them in this situation. Yeah I know never to trust kids. I have four rambunctious boys and oh the stories I can tell you…..

  2. Chanief says:

    My kids use a mac. Each one has their own profile. I’ve set the security settings so that they can only access websites that I have bookmarked for them. Any time they want a website added I have to be the one to do it. When it comes to checking their email they have to do it on my computer because they have yahoo email and there is so much that can be accessed if I add yahoo to their allowed sites. I am pretty sure the same kind of security could be done on a PC if that’s what you have.

  3. tesyaa says:

    With four kids in the house full time, the other 3 there sometimes – how do you set up a computer schedule so that everyone is happy, without resorting to buying a few laptops?

    Right now your kids use the Internet minimally. When you get to Monsey they will need it for schoolwork, but I can’t imagine that schoolwork would require more than one hour of Internet time, each, per night. (Probably much less).

    So it sounds like they will be using it for more than just schoolwork, once you move. Fine. But in terms of setting up a schedule, in my house, anyone with schoolwork (or an adult working from home) gets priority over someone who just wants to surf, be entertained, or use facebook.

    If you have 9 computer users in your household, you probably do need more than one machine to keep everyone happy. But don’t go crazy, because the amount of computer time consumed directly correlates to the number of computers available. If you want your kids to do anything besides use the Internet, don’t get too many computers or laptops.

  4. Lady Lock and Load says:

    I think it’s great that you are thinking ahead and planning how to moniter safe usage of the computer by your children. Some of my friends have the kids use the computer/internet in a public area of the house and not their bedrooms. good luck!

  5. Marla says:

    I agree with Tesyaa, but I am just curious – which schools did you choose for your boys? I know in Monsey that can be a bit challenging if you are not in the ‘black-hat’ community.

  6. HaSafran says:

    The biggest thing about Internet filters is that it catches the stuff you would never think about. You may trust your kids in this matter, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t come across anything they shouldn’t BY ACCIDENT. And it happens, plenty.
    Lord knows the number of times I’ve been doing research on the ‘net for archive-related matters and I’ve clicked on the most innocuous looking link (which shows up in my search due to carefully developed “keywords”) and all of a sudden, I’m falling over myself to CLOSE THAT WINDOW. And, as you know, I’m not exactly a prude. But still, there are things that do not need to see the light of day, let alone be publicized.
    OTOH, the drawback to most commercial filters is that they invariably restrict access over-protectively. For example, I know of one medical researcher doing work on breast cancer who could not access ANYTHING on the ‘net on this subject (while using a filter program) due to the word “breast”. Now, not all of them will do that, and most filters I’ve seen let you custom-set your levels for different log-ins, but still…it’s the price you pay for being protected.

    • batya from NJ says:

      we have had that problem when the kids were working on school work where the filters were too sensitive & needed to be bypassed which was a pain for both my kids & us…

  7. batya from NJ says:

    we installed a filtering system called content watch or netnanny. they also offer a tracking system which can be set up to monitor which sites your kids are accessing. there are many other monitoring & filtering programs out there but i’m not aware of all of them (although u can probably google it & find out more).

    btw, with regards to trusting your kids, bear in mind that all (or certainly most) kids are curious & sometimes they can find themselves viewing inappropriate material even by mistake (while trying to access h/w etc) or they may specifically try to look something up that they heard about from other kids on the bus, in the classroon etc. i do believe that it is dangerous to have the internet in the house but despite that, i feel it is a necessary evil & important if i want my kids to function as productive members of society. therefore, we allow access but we also try to maintain some semblance of control over it b/c the internet can be very dangerous for children (& adults too!).

    i will add that my son has his own computer which initially was connected to the internet but even with the controls we had set up, my son was successful at by-passing them & outsmarting us (even though he too is a “good kid”) & ultimately we disconnected the internet connection from his computer & currently, he needs to use my computer (ie the family computer which is in my room) when he wants to access the internet for school work. he is able to use his computer to play computer games such as solitaire & the like & also to type up his reports.

    i will add though that he has an ipod touch which does have access to the internet but my husband has somehow disconnected most of his internet access except for fb & some other apps. i did warn my son that if he does not get his work done b/c he is wasting his time on fb, we will disconnect the fb connection as well from the ipod touch & then he will only be able to use fb on my computer which will be a pain for both him & me just like it is currently a pain when he needs the internet for homework etc…

    in short, it ain’t easy & as a computer forensic expert who spoke to the parent body of my kid’s school explained, nowadays almost anything with a screen (except for a digital camera) can have internet access including cellphones so we as parents DO have much to be concerned about especially when we allow our children access to these gadgets & of course to the internet directly with laptops, desktops etc. i should add that the expert who spoke to us, also agreed that if we want our children to function down the road we can’t forbid internet usage, but we do need to exert some controls which include the filtering & monitoring as well…

    anyhow, good luck ‘cuz we all need it especially as parents in today’s day & age!!

  8. Moko says:

    It is good your kids to feel you trust them. On the other hand Internet content is something you can not filter at 100%.

    If their need for information is really so intense and you can not handle it with offline resources, then set a web filter like K9. Check here its web site:
    http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

    About the number of computers… If you don’t want you home to looks like NASA control center get 1 or 2 computers and set usage time intervals for every kid that are not in conflict. Here is some info how to do it:
    http://www.limit-computer-time.com/

  9. Ari says:

    ManyEyes. Great filter. Easy, easy, easy. Can customize by individual Web site, type of Web site, can create individual profiles, can report browsing history, can limit time, etc. One license ($50/year and worth every penny) can run on up to 4 PCs. Of course, your kids will inevitably circumvent your best efforts outside the home, on their friends’ cellphones or PCs. Keep those lines of communication open.

  10. motherof4 says:

    I have four teenagers and two computers, and also second NetNanny. You can set up individual profiles but I used just one general one, and it’s easy to temporarily override the filter with a password. I also get emails at work when they try to access a forbidden site.
    The other software I use is ComputerTime, and uses its own individual profiles instead of Windows accounts. Managing separate Windows accounts is inconvenient and clutters up the disk. It limits the time on the computer (time of day and amount of time), and can force a break every x minutes. I limit each child to 2 hours a day, with a 15 minutes break after each hour so as not to let someone hog the computer for the whole 2 hours. There is also no access after 10:00 pm. Highly recommended.

  11. Jeff Bridge says:

    Excellent article. Thank you.

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