How do you keep your kids safe online?


Prompted by the recent myspace thread, I'd like to ask the question:

"What are others here doing to protect or monitor their children's online activities?"

It's a tough job. There's all sorts of nasties out there, from viruses to predators, to porn, to disturbing videos. All stuff we don't want our kids viewing during their formative years.

Personally I don't use software, using a more hands on approach including:
- no MSN or other chat programs. To prone to abuse IMO.
- no downloads without permission. This 'rule' gets bent sometimes as they're not clear on the difference between running a flash game and downloading and installing.
- no sites visited without permission. Again this gets bent sometimes because they're not always clear they're jumping from one site to anther.
- limited time online
- their computer is in the family room/den and the screen is very open to view.
- they've been mildly warned about being careful online.

What are you doing?


OK, No Software ...

... but, if you are looking/interested, this is good:

[url=""]K9 Web Protection[/url]. It's also free, not that that's the point. Just stood out from the others when I was last looking.

Teach them how to use..

Anti Virus
Anti Spyware

No IM because that is blocked at router level, neither myself or my wife uses it.

Also the kids machine runs VNC so we can log in and see what they are up to at anytime.

Sorry guys, but to me this

Sorry guys, but to me this is totally out of proportions! Do you also tie your kids to a chair so they do not get out in the real and "dangerous" world?

The Internet is like the traffic - you have to learn the rules and how to watch out for dangers. The solution to traffic dangers is not to block the kids from going out there (similar top no msn use) but to teach them how o behave safely in it.


Be a nation of prudes and you'll end up with an astronomic %% of teen pregnancies. Only slightly related, but I rest my case anyway.


- Agree, nuke all IM.
- Set the kids up as Limited User account.
-In IE; Tools > Content tab > Content Advisor > Enable. Set admin password.
--Once Content Advisor is enabled, click a category in the list, then drag the slider to set the zero tolerance limit. Repeat this process for each category. IE is neutered now. You can whitelist sites as admin.

Require them to use Firefox as it is better controlled and monitored with extensions.
- Adblock has a fairly obscure Site Blocking feature. Once ticked, it can be set up to block either an url or text strings that are part of an url, i.e., */chat/* would block any website with "/chat/" in the url. I'm pretty sure you can whitelist entire domains, too.
- Use chromedit to remove access to Adblock and History from the toolbar menu. Also remove Adblock access from the status bar.

/* Remove the link in status bar for AdBlock extension */
statusbarpanel[id="adblock-status"] { display: none !important; }

/* Hide selected browser menus */
#navigator-toolbox menu[label="Adblock"],
#navigator-toolbox menu[label="History"]
{ display: none !important; }

- Use Publicfox extension
-- blocks users from downloading unwanted files.
-- Locks down Add-ons.
-- Locks down Preferences.
-- Locks down 'about:config'
-- All with a central password. (Suggest usinf same as admin for IE)

This setup certainly isn't foolproof but it'll slow them up. It'll also let them know you're trying to keep an eye on them. If you want to go the next step and log their browsing history, take a look at Slogger. I'm not using it now, but in the past I set it up to record title,url, and timestamp to a text file (new one created each month) while skipping whitelisted sites. Very incriminating.

Also, I've read about some Greasemonkey scripts that can be deployed, but I've never used Greasemonkey.


The above setup isn't for my kids, they're all grown. After a couple of important WinXP machines for one of our offices were crippled by malware I had no choice but to step in. The office uses browser-based software and 3rd-party websites for much of its daily operations. Added bonus: productivity went up by 25% --that's a very conservative estimate, the manager says there was more than a 50% improvement.


I didn't block IM to protect the kids, I did that to stop all the attacks on the IM ports.

I agree on the get them to use Firefox, that was about the first thing I did for our daughter.

Effectively I gave them exactly the same set up as their parents, with exactly the same ability to access the net.

And I do agree with you Mikkel it is about teaching them to understand the dangers and deal with them in a sensible way, but would you let a two year old out on the street without supervision if you lived on a main road. I think the real question is how much supervision do you need to give them and how do you do the supervising.

No lockdowns

4 kids, 13,11,8,5 three of them have PC's in their rooms, the 5 year old is next.

I don't restrict IM, that's how they communicate with their friends, I prefer that to the phone lines being tied up by them. No netnanny or such software.

We do talk them about what is ok to download and what isn't, I do run adaware and spybot on their machines regularly. I do go in their rooms from time to time when they are on their computers, and see what they are doing. I do check their contact lists for names I do not recognize.

I know they will see stuff they shouldn't and or don't want to. Same will happen on the TV too. The same will happen in the shcoolyard and other places I can't be all the time.

Restrictions and bannings are not the way to go IMO.

Know what they're doing

But that goes for everything, not just online stuff. You have to be engaged. It amazes me how many parents are totally clueless to what their kids are doing.

The kid's computer (they're 5 and 10) is right here in our office, and we only allow them to visit certain sites. Some of my son's friends are allowed free rein at YouTube, I can only imagine that their parents have never seen some of the clips found there.


> but would you let a two

> but would you let a two year old out on the street without supervision

No, and I would not let the same 2 year old play with my computer either. But thats not really the point. Overprotecting your kids from the dangers of the world will not make them safer - it will make them weaker and less able to protect themselfes.

Off course you need to walk with your small kids in the traffic and teach them how to do it safe. Teach them. The same thing applies to computers. But at some piont, better sooner than later, you will have to let them loose so they can learn how to manage that dangerous world. You can't be there for them every single step on the way but you can teach them good guidelines.

I see a lot of parents overprotecting their kids. No don't crwl up in that tree, no don't use a knife in the kitchen - no, no, no. Yes, if they use a kniife in the kitchen they can cut themself. So what? Thats how you learn to sue one. And off course they can fall down the apple tree but thats how you learn how to climb it.

The overprotected children simple do not develop the way they should. I see so many small children in the age of 3-6 that just can't do the things they should be able to do at that age because their parents have "handicapped" them with overprotection.

Off course, you should not put your 2 year old in the middle of a high trafficed street, leave them and say: Lean! Its a question of ballance ...

Use a Mac

I'm always astounded at the hoops PC users have to jump through as they attempt to improve the security of their systems, and they're still less secure than using a Mac out of the box. Even with close supervision, there's no way I'd let a child go surfing except on a Mac.

Our sons are grown now, but when they were teenagers at home, they were so busy with other activities that they didn't spend much time online. When they did surf, the only restriction was their own conscience and common sense (both well developed). We didn't spy on them and we never had any problems.

An idle mind

My 9 year old stays busy. Aside from school work, the Internet use is primarily a down time distraction that is self limited to Disney and neopets. No IM at this point.

I'm with buckworks that the greatest safegaurd is the developement of their own common sense.

I'm with buckworks that the

I'm with buckworks that the greatest safegaurd is the developement of their own common sense.

I agree, too. My son demonstrated this to me just the other day - he ventured astray and backed out of the site when he heard some questionable language - atta boy!


I'm not going to argue about

I'm not going to argue about parenting, and there is NO doubt in my mind that teaching and enabling someone to make their own informed decisions is absolutely the best way to go ...but let me put it this way:
[A] If you guys/gals believe that anyone's (child or adult) common sense is going to prevail each-and-every-time when confronted with what is often described as a sophisticated mind-game or phishing scheme, then I got a bridge to sell you. Or maybe some Nigerian black-money.
[B] You need to hear some of my stories (preferably told at a pub near an SEO conference) --things I did while growing up. Then you'll know for certain that common sense and boys cannot co-exist.

Start with the limits, take them down when they show they can handle it (somewhere around age 28, as best as I can tell from experience with 5 kids).

No argument there, RC

and just because I havent had to take stricter measures doesnt mean that I am not willing to do so at the drop of a hat. At this point I am hoping that exercising her own judgement will lead to better "muscle memory".

Biggest problem? School. I

Biggest problem? School. I don't permit student use of Internet and email at school until I know they understand human communications enough to navigate that mindfield, and that's not 3rd grade. I give them their own email accounts and teach them myself, and they know way more than their mates at school. The ten year old (who now has permissions granted) declines to use the school email system, telling kids and teachers that he never reads the school account so if you want to reach him email his "real" email account.

We always acknowledge how tough kids can be on each other at school (verbally, physically) and we want to get them emailing each other (on the record) starting in third grade? That's either somebody's research project or a dumb ass decision, but it's not for my kids. Yeah, I need to protect my kids from their schools. Go figure.

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