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Dennis Peacock
09-27-2010, 10:50 AM
OK....I'm sick and tired for working day and night to try and protect my kids from internet porn and such types of content.

I have CyberPatrol installed on their computer and I learned that a part of it can easily be hacked for unlimited access.

I want to know what YOU use for parental controls.
I want to know if there is a router that will do this at the router level.
Now...before you go internet searching...I've already spent well over 20 hours of searching, reading, and even trying some of them and all without success. So please don't jump on your web browser and start searching for me a solution.

Boil it down.....if you aren't using a working solution for your parental control for your own kids at home or if you aren't a design engineer that has helped develop and put into practice parental controls from extensive experience, then I don't need to hear from you.

I've been using, tweaking, and plugging along with parental controls now for over 3 years...so I'm not new at this.

I'm looking for a better and more effective way to give my kids internet access without the bad stuff that goes along with it. My boys have to use it for school work, so I can't cut out internet access altogether.

Before you ask....the kids only have ONE computer and it's in plain view in the great room of our home and yes, I know how to disconnect the DSL Router and take it with me when I leave the house. ;)

Chuck Wintle
09-27-2010, 10:51 AM
OK....I'm sick and tired for working day and night to try and protect my kids from internet porn and such types of content.

I have CyberPatrol installed on their computer and I learned that a part of it can easily be hacked for unlimited access.

I want to know what YOU use for parental controls.
I want to know if there is a router that will do this at the router level.
Now...before you go internet searching...I've already spent well over 20 hours of searching, reading, and even trying some of them and all without success. So please don't jump on your web browser and start searching for me a solution.

Boil it down.....if you aren't using a working solution for your parental control for your own kids at home or if you aren't a design engineer that has helped develop and put into practice parental controls from extensive experience, then I don't need to hear from you.

I've been using, tweaking, and plugging along with parental controls now for over 3 years...so I'm not new at this.

I'm looking for a better and more effective way to give my kids internet access without the bad stuff that goes along with it. My boys have to use it for school work, so I can't cut out internet access altogether.

Before you ask....the kids only have ONE computer and it's in plain view in the great room of our home and yes, I know how to disconnect the DSL Router and take it with me when I leave the house. ;)

how old are your kids?

Doug Sewell
09-27-2010, 10:59 AM
KimKomando.com You may have search a little on her site but it should be worth it. Good luck

Zach England
09-27-2010, 11:28 AM
My advice would be to give up because keeping porn away from teenage boys is quixotic. It sounds like what you want is a stand-alone content filter ala Barracuda.

But I don't really fit into the categories you solicited for advice, so I'll shut up.

Eric Franklin
09-27-2010, 11:56 AM
Two options I know of but have never used are OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/) or Safe Eyes (http://www.internetsafety.com/safe-eyes-parental-control-software.php).

My kids aren't old enough to have to worry about this yet.

Dan Hintz
09-27-2010, 11:58 AM
I don't have to worry about such things yet (7-yo who is only allowed a couple of short flash/java games on pre-defined sites, not to mention she has no real understanding what the net is actually for), but personally I would use paranoia to its fullest.

Explain that you review every move they make at some later time... if they go somewhere they're not supposed to, they lose serious privileges. It doesn't matter if you actually review anything (though I suggest doing so once in a blue moon to keep them truly honest), but the paranoia that'll set in should keep them from doing it.

Matt Meiser
09-27-2010, 11:59 AM
I was kind of thinking the same as Zach on both fronts. There's a content filter package available for pfsense which is router software you run on a PC platform Overall pfsense is pretty easy to configure and will run on just about any old PC with 2+ nics. I've never looked into the content filtering though. You could block their PC from internet access by MAC address outside certain hours of the day too. But from what I've seen no content filter is perfect and if they are persistent they are going to find a way to defeat it. Or use someone else's computer. Or someone else's phone. Or...

What you really need is a content filter for the boys, not the computer :)

paul cottingham
09-27-2010, 12:05 PM
Open dns is terrific, and very hard to circumvent for a child.

Two options I know of but have never used are OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com/) or Safe Eyes (http://www.internetsafety.com/safe-eyes-parental-control-software.php).

My kids aren't old enough to have to worry about this yet.

Mike Conley
09-27-2010, 1:52 PM
We use K9 Web Protection at home.

http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

Pat Germain
09-27-2010, 3:18 PM
I'm a system administrator and work on a very large network with hundreds of PCs and a few Solaris (Unix) servers. I have a very sophisticated setup for blocking inappropriate sites. It's actually quite ridiculous what is blocked: imdb.com, craigslist.com, ebay.com, etc. And, of course, adult content.

However, even with all that blocking software, firewall settings and policies, a user can still get to adult content. I think this is because some of the best Web Administrators work for adult sites. (After all, that's where the real money is.) They seem to be able to configure their web sites to overcome any means of blocking.

I came to the same conclusion you did years ago, Dennis. All the software appications and network settings don't work. Any motivated 14-year-old kid can get past them. (For example, even if something is blocked through a web browser, a kid can typically type a URL into any window on the desktop and completely bypass all blocking software.)

I've heard good things about Integrity Online. But you would probably have to switch to them as your ISP which can be a big hassle.

Therefore, my recommendations are to keep the computer in an open area in the home and supervise, supervise, supervise. It used to be you could check where your kids had been online. But new browsers have "Private Browsing" (aka "Porn Mode") which eliminates that cabability.

Wish I could give you more. Good luck. It's tough being a parent in the 21st century.

Justin M Rovang
09-27-2010, 3:34 PM
The answer isn't technological but rather strategic. I can promise you if they really want, they'll find a way. (This is coming from plenty of technical experience).

The best solutions are:

1. Computer needs to be in a public place. Livingroom/diningroom if possible.
2. Computer can only be used when an adult is home.
3. (Optional, evil): Make the computer operator's back face the room entryway.

To be honest, depending on their age - they'll find a way if they need to. Cell phone, friend's house, you name it. In the end you'll have to let go and just know you did your best to bring them up right - and hopefully not draw a polar response by caring too much ;)

Dan Friedrichs
09-27-2010, 7:26 PM
Your kids will be frustrated with the times that it incorrectly blocks legitimate content. Every time that "blocked" screen pops up erroneously, it'll be a reminder to them that you don't trust them.

The problem is that there is no automatic way to differentiate between good and bad content (as Justice Stewart said, "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it.")

Commercially-available software is going to block only the obvious, which lulls parents into a false sense of security. I submit that less obviously-dangerous content, such as the pro-eating disorder website or the internet bullies on facebook/myspace/etc, pose a much more serious risk to your children than them seeing some naked people.

paul cottingham
09-27-2010, 7:28 PM
that plus some programs block stuff for ideological reasons.

Matt Meiser
09-27-2010, 9:48 PM
Sweet! Where can I get that one?

Just kidding. I want one that blocks all political sites. :D

Keith Outten
09-27-2010, 11:01 PM
It has been my experience that you cannot prevent a child from accessing information that they want to view.

In your home you should place the computer in a public place. Make sure the screen faces the entrance to the room. As others have said don't allow any access when an adult is not in the home.

If you place controls on your router what prevents a child from purchasing their own router they can install when you leave home?

Their friends at school will tell them how to get by any kind of control you implement.

Trust is something that isn't a factor until children reach a certain age. You don't trust young ones to not go into the road until they have reached an age that they can appreciate the physical risks involved and the penalty.

Consider that their are pictures and video of things that are illegal like bestiality, kiddy porn and police pictures that are so horrible they are not to be viewed by adults much less children that could not possibly understand the content. These types of information make traditional porn look like a Saturday morning cartoon by comparison.

Children should never have a cell phone. If I had young ones I would disconnect the cable and lock it in a metal box when I was unable to supervise my young children directly. Just as important is controlling who they spend time with and determining if their friends homes are also Internet safe. I used to operate an Internet Service Provider business and I can tell you that a large percentage of parents use the Internet as a baby sitter for their children, particularly during the Summer months. Children are left unsupervised all summer long with an Internet connection that is wide open. I warned parents when they contracted an Internet account with our company, they almost always told me that their children would never do such a thing, they are good kids. Weeks or months later they would storm into our office and demand that their account be disabled immediately......they were shocked at what their children were doing at home all day long when they started looking at their browsers cashe.

Most of you think that porn is on web sites, I can tell you that web sites contain just a fraction of the porn on the Net. UseNet News is where kids go to access porn and most parents don't even know what UseNet is......
.

paul cottingham
09-27-2010, 11:16 PM
opendns is hard to circumvent, especially if you lock down permissions to change dns settings. it is als very granular.

Harold Burrell
09-27-2010, 11:43 PM
Covenant Eyes. It is not a filtering software, per se. It monitors every site visited, and then sends you a report.

Basically, it tells you every site that has been viewed.

Dan Friedrichs
09-27-2010, 11:44 PM
Most of you think that porn is on web sites, I can tell you that web sites contain just a fraction of the porn on the Net. UseNet News is where kids go to access porn and most parents don't even know what UseNet is......
.

If I can respectfully disagree, sir - I think that was only true many years ago (like, circa 1990). Usenet hardly even exists anymore - most ISPs have stopped providing news servers. The only way to access news today is by paying for a subscription to a commercial news server.

Jeremy Greiner
09-27-2010, 11:56 PM
Unfortunatly as many have people have stated already, prevention software isn't really an option. You'll spend a lot of money and in the end it won't work.

However you can use traditional monitor and punish, which is very easy.

1.) You can set up software on the computer that will take screenshots of the screen at intervals that can be gone over later. These software methods are very effective the downside is you must make sure the child's user has limited permissions and cannot close down the software.

2.) Many routers will keep track of DNS look ups. This will keep track of all name to IP translations and store them in a log. For web browsing this is very effective because you will be able to see all the URLs your child goes to. However, proxies can get around this, and this system doesn't work with peer to peer software.

While method #1 may seem overbearing, really it's not much different than limiting their use to when you are in the room able to see everything they are doing anyways.

-jeremy

Dennis Peacock
09-28-2010, 12:02 AM
how old are your kids?

My daughter is 19, my middle son is 15 and my youngest son is 13.

David Weaver
09-28-2010, 9:15 AM
Most of you think that porn is on web sites, I can tell you that web sites contain just a fraction of the porn on the Net. UseNet News is where kids go to access porn and most parents don't even know what UseNet is......
.

I didn't even know that still existed. When I was in college, all sorts of unsavory things were on the news servers, including things that I would say are worse than porn (anarchist cookbook stuff, advice on how to do illegal things...).

My kids aren't old enough to know the time of day yet, but when they are, I'll make a moderate effort to let them know that stuff isn't allowed, and do a moderate job of policing, and just take it away if compliance is poor.

Other than that, minute to minute monitoring as a parent and an idealism that kids won't do things we did as kids is just a good way to drive yourself nuts (this is supposing the kids are generally good kids and get good marks and understand their responsibilities in life).

Keith Outten
09-28-2010, 9:20 AM
If I can respectfully disagree, sir - I think that was only true many years ago (like, circa 1990). Usenet hardly even exists anymore - most ISPs have stopped providing news servers. The only way to access news today is by paying for a subscription to a commercial news server.

Dan,

Sorry, Cox Communications operates several News Servers today and they are as active as they ever were. Many many gigabytes of files per day, certainly more than any human being is capable of viewing, every 24 hours of every day. You can access UseNet from a web browser but Mom and Dad might catch on so the kids use a UseNet Reader like Forte Agent or their email software. EVERYTHING you can imagine is available through UseNet News servers and a whole lot of things you can't imagine.
.

The people who sell the Forte Agent News Reader operate a News Server that only costs $10.00 per month, a small price to pay to fool Mom and Dad who are busy trying to block porn on the web and don't know what UseNet is or how to access it. Of course if your friend will share his/her password then you can jump right into UseNet without paying.

Keith Outten
09-28-2010, 9:33 AM
David,

They are all good kids who are inquisitive about life. They can't help it when their friends at school tell them about UseNet and how to access this stuff.

I have seen pictures and videos that were disguised in religious groups that were so disgusting they would make an everlasting mark in any human beings mind. Filth beyond the imagination of a healthy mind. Most of it comes from foreign News Servers because it is a felony to post this kind of information in the USA. Those of you who are unfamiliar with UseNet News it is basically public email. When you post a video or picture to a news server it automatically propagates to every news server on the Internet, even the ones located in America.

EVERYTHING you can see on the World Wide Web is tame compared to UseNet News. Children should never see this kind of trash and neither should adults.

I recently received an email from Forte Agent with instructions how to install and run their News Reader Software to a thumb drive. Imagine what a child could put on a 16 gigabyte thumb drive.

Before anyone else questions my experience in this area I can tell you that more times than I care to admit I was contacted by the FBI and other Federal organizations requesting information, with a warrant, on my network users when I was an ISP. I spent a major portion of my time over ten years trying to keep my network users (mostly minors) out of jail from various types of trouble. There was one particular individual I could not save, he is in a military prison with a 25 year sentence. Dirty pictures are the least of your troubles if you are a parent.....watch your children closely if you want to keep them out of jail.

Educate yourself, your children are at great risk every day!
.

Dan Hintz
09-28-2010, 10:13 AM
When I signed up for FiOS about four years ago, they were still allowing access to their news servers. A couple of years back they dumped a number of good server connections (at least as far as I could tell), and Agent has sat unused since then :( It was a depressing day for me, as several of those servers provided very useful information... now it appears the only thing left were Star Trek fanboym religious zealot, and (probably now) Justin Bieber sites.

Dennis Peacock
09-28-2010, 10:27 AM
Another thing is that I always trust my kids until....they prove to me that they can not be trusted. Everyone is very aware of the household standards, chores, and expectations of daily living. We love our kids no matter what they do. When each of my kids turned into "teens", we as parents didn't just step back and let them "find themselves". We've stayed with them, communicating to them, explaining things to them as they few older and more curious. I'd much rather them learn about sex and the true meaning of love from me, the LOML and our marriage example than them learn it from school or outside the home.

I tell them the "truth" no matter how embarrassed it may seem.

I can tell you this though.....pornography and related "stuff" rips at the very heart of a family. Some of the most extreme pain in a family (besides the loss of a loved one) is stuff like this.

I'm sorry, but I am NOT backing down, I am not giving up. They are my kids and I will walk with them and love them through it all....no matter what the cost. I'm sorry....but I love my kids far too much to just give up. Case closed.

Dan Friedrichs
09-28-2010, 10:41 AM
Sorry, Cox Communications operates several News Servers today and they are as active as they ever were.

Perhaps, but it is still "dead" - the Wikipedia article on "Usenet" has a whole section on usenet's decline and a list of all the ISP's who have shut down their news servers due to lack of use. While a lot of binaries might flow through the remaining users, it just represents a larger volume of data by a smaller group of users. Here's an article from PC Magazine declaring the "death of usenet": http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2326848,00.asp

Interestingly, the author recalls his experiences using usenet, in 1993.


I'm 24 years old, recently went through college, and am techno-literate, and I can say for certain that, in my lifetime, I have NEVER heard another person my age talk about or use Usenet. It is as obscure as gopher. It was a technology that was on the decline well before anyone my age had easy access to the internet. I would bet most teenagers today have never even heard the word "usenet".

I think this makes an interesting point, though - a parent like Keith may think they are being techno-savvy by knowing about non-web-based internet services, but in reality, this parent is relying on very dated information, while their children are off using a gnuettla-based peer-to-peer network, torrents, Torr, or some other network that the parent has never even heard of.



EDIT: Even Cox shut down it's news servers as of June 30, 2010. See: http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/04/21/210224/Cox-Discontinues-Usenet-Starting-In-June

Robert McGowen
09-28-2010, 10:59 AM
I have used bsecure.com for several years now. It is an actual filter. It has worked on 4 kids so far and they are old enough now to tell me that it did work.... :)

It costs $49.95 per year for 1-3 computers. You can adjust the settings so that you can control what is blocked. If you check every setting, it seems like you can barely get on any site without it being blocked. I unchecked most of the settings and left 3-4 checked and I have not seen the blocking page in a couple of months. The software also sends you a weekly report for each computer that shows the addresses of every site visited and also shows the times that the computer was used. I think that you can also set it so that it blocks the internet during whatever hours you decide, i.e. no internet from 11pm - 7am.

Lessons learned and some that my kids told me about or I would never
know.

1) My password for the software got guessed once. Don't use a password anywhere remotely close to anything you use now and don't write it down. :rolleyes:

2) Don't tell your oldest kid that is visiting what your password is or he might tell his wife the password in front of his younger siblings without realizing it. :(

3) A lot of the game systems have browsers. You can block the computer, but you can still log onto the internet with the Wii game system and maybe some others. It also uses your new 52" HDTV as the screen. :eek: (The kids volunteered this info. :))

4 kids - 2 sophomores and 1 junior in college and 1 finishing up a masters degree. No matter what, this isn't the end of the world.....:cool:

Dan Hintz
09-28-2010, 12:13 PM
I wouldn't introduce my kids to it, but I'm not going to go to Draconian measures to prevent them seeing it, either, unless it becomes problematic. Kids are curious, and sometimes you simply cannot answer every question they have as they may not be able to put that question into words. Guide them in their learning, but don't force blinders on them (it never works in the long run).

Scott Gibbons
09-28-2010, 1:24 PM
I will toss a vote in for OpenDNS as well. It has served our children well thus far.

Scott Shepherd
09-28-2010, 1:30 PM
I don't know how any of that stuff works, but something I'd like to know if it catches or not (and how) is photos from google images. If you go to google, enter whatever you want, and click on the images text, it brings up 1000's of photos. With the "moderate" filtering or even the "strict", there are very bad photos that still display. It's very frustrating when you're trying to help a child find something on the internet, only to have those photos show up in the search, even with strict filtering on.

I'd be curious to know how any of the tools mentioned would handle google images from a basic search.

Dennis Peacock
09-29-2010, 9:25 AM
I have decided to leave their computer covered by CyberPatrol AND OpenDNS. I have my computer covered by OpenDNS and I like the way it works.

Thanks for all your input and advice.

Eric DeSilva
09-29-2010, 10:47 AM
While I have no experience with filtering, I ran across this today and thought it might be of interest--they arrive at the same OpenDNS solution. It is an article from GeekDad, a subset of Wired's website for fathers, and the authors typically know their tech:

http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2010/09/one-geekdads-internet-filtering

Darius Ferlas
09-29-2010, 12:21 PM
I'm one of those Dennis did not want to hear from, but since he seems to have found what he was looking for I'll throw in my whatever it's worth the old $0.02 in today's economy.

I think I can also consider myself a geek dad but it seems like I have violated each and every rule in the article. My daughter has had her own computer in her bedroom since she was 8 and her own laptop when she was 14. She's 21 now.

We are a small family of 3, each of us has a personal laptop and there is a computer pretty much in every room. We have used the same approach as Dan, a few posts above, and I have never used any content filtering as I don't believe censorship. I am not into porn and I consider it a waste of time, but then is pornography the worst a child can experience on the net (or TV). How about war victims shown all over the place, idiotic so called "reality" shows, or even some verses for various religious writings. Now that is some scary stuff. How does one decide which is more harmful to a young mind? I recognize that each parent is in a position to set moral standards for their kids. I just never found a standard that would lend itself to having children baby-sat by a machine or by a piece of software.

The time that kids spend at home is only a part of their day. I much preferred to discuss issues with my daughter, instead of blocking a part of reality from her. In short, I use HER as the content filter, and it has worked beautifully. She's grown to be a responsible and hard working young lady. Just a few weeks ago she came back from Europe where she was on a scholarship. She left when she was 19 so it would have been pretty silly of me to censor her internet access. At 19 she could vote in the federal elections so censoring her would be kinda iffy? Besides, how would I do that when she's in England next summer for her master degree?

As for the OpenDNS, while it's not 100% bullet proof it can work quite well in organizations such as schools or libraries etc. In a home environment it is an completely different matter. CyberPatrol is even less secure. For a motivated kid, content filtering software if a minor obstacle. I'd say the main value is for the parents who, unfortunately, achieve a false sense of security for their kids.

Rod Sheridan
09-29-2010, 3:30 PM
Dennis, I think you've already done one of the most important things, you've put the computer in the common room.

I have two daughters 25 and 23, so they were coming of age during the Internet revolution.

I didn't use any blocking methods, just a bit of random observation and many discussions about what's out there and why some of it's not appropriate.

As others have said, your children will access it at other locations if they want to.

I'm sure you've instilled a great set of values in your children, now you have to sit back and watch the results of your efforts. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how great your children are, and what a great job you've done as a father.

regards, Rod.

Dennis Peacock
09-29-2010, 8:09 PM
Rod,
Thanks for your kind words. The LOML and I have always taken our roles as parents very seriously. We strive to always be a part of our kids lives. To love them no matter what and to encourage them to always do the best they can, tell the truth no matter what, and to love and serve others as best they know how.

Some may say that I'm a bit strict and that my kids will see what they want to see...when they want to see it when they are away from my house. I say fine then....but at least they won't have free reign to look at "that stuff" in my house and on my dollar. We talk with our kids, we hold family meetings to discuss any and every topic. We even create tests to give our kids to see what they think about things such as "how would you make our family better?" or something like "what could dad do to be a better dad to you?" and we talk things out. We strive to be open and honest on every topic.

My feelings are that they will be "exposed" to the "world" at some point in their lives....they just don't need over exposure while they are young and developing into their own person and adults.

I stand by my kids....I walk with my kids....and I give them all the love and encouragement I can possibly give them. They may fall....but by every ounce in me....I'll be there to catch them and help them recover from their fall.

Thanks for your attention, feedback, and opinions. I now consider this topic closed. Much appreciated.

Phyllis Meyer
09-29-2010, 8:53 PM
Like Rod, our two daughters ages 22 & 24 did not have all the stuff on the computer that is on there today. They used the computer to type out school work (oh where did those days go)?

Parents, please watch your children and do put the computer in a common room and teach them the do's and don'ts. Technology is wonderful but unfortunately it can also be so harmful at the same time!

Sincerely,
Phyllis

Jim Becker
10-03-2010, 11:55 AM
Now that the girls have their own computers, I use K9 (free) for parental controls. (It's not a good choice for a shared machine if you want different settings for different users, however) I also have the parental controls turned on in ZoneAlarm. So far, K9 has been rock-solid and since it's a managed product, any attempts to circumvent or remove it result in an email to the parental-units from the nice folks at K9...

We also use Zoobuh.com for the girls' email and have access to other email, including web-mail, turned off in the parental control products. Zoobuh provides various limits and controls, including transparent copies of all email in and out sent to the parental-units if desired and control of who the child(ren) can sent and receive email from.

The older daughter's iPod Touch is covered by MobiCIP to provide parental control restrictions similar to K9. It completely replaces the browser.

While I use OpenDNS for, well...DNS...I have not implemented their content controls, largely because of potential interference with Professor Dr. SWMBO's research needs while working at home. But it's a good system for adding yet another layer of "protection".