help me block the internet from my tech savvy teens !

(51 Posts)
wakemeupnow Wed 25-Sep-13 19:56:38

Im looking for a way to limit my kids overall daily time on the internet.

Im not looking to block certain social networking sites, or to block keywords (that is easy to do anyway), or to prevent them going on the internet between certain times. I want them to manage their daily allowance. So a per-user time limit, whichever device they are using; xbox, smartphone, pc, ipad.

it seems that a password to access the internet is the best way. Impossible to add software to all those different devices (and any new ones their friends bring in!). They are very savvy and would easily work out ways to use proxy to bypass most software solutions anyway.

If anyone has found a solution to this please let me know.

ssd Wed 25-Sep-13 19:57:27

me too!

louby44 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:55:28

I don't think you can! It's too specific.

My brother is very IT savvy I will ask him.

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 05:38:28

Thanks Louby It seems crazy that its so difficult, There's so much parental control stuff out there. All I need is someway of setting the router so individual named people can each, with their own password ,have an allotted amount of time each day without setting the hours.

There's a device called iboss which claims to do this but all the reviews say its shit.

Policing these kids is driving more than a bit crazy !

sashh Thu 26-Sep-13 06:49:24

I'm not in a position to need this but I'm thinking hotels must have something. You know you book into a room and ask for internet access they give you a password.

Are you using wifi? Is there anything to stop them logging on to the neighbours or the local McDonalds?

bigTillyMint Thu 26-Sep-13 07:02:30

We have talktalk and DH has set it to turn off social networking at 9.30pm and to block certain other sites, but that's not really what you want as it affects all the computers.

Am watching for any useful information!

Deathbyladybirds Thu 26-Sep-13 07:05:20

Change the wireless password and don't pay for data on their mobiles

livinginwonderland Thu 26-Sep-13 07:38:28

Hmm, I know you can for businesses (ie. hotels) but I don't think there's a way of doing it at home.

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 11:31:59

Luckily there is no neighbour they can log onto and there's even no mobile signal where we live (thank god) but if I turn off wifi then I can't go online hypocrite

theredhen Thu 26-Sep-13 12:12:48

My by router allows me to turn off the wifi on certain devices at certain times.

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 12:25:51

Red hen that sounds good. What make is the router please ... just searched up "by" but nothing came up !

NoComet Thu 26-Sep-13 12:29:00

Why bother? The more you nag the more they will spend time bypassing your restrictions.

DD2(12) wandered in the other night while I was on a thread about this sort of thing.

Her comment was " because I have a lap top in my room and can go in it and chill when I like, I don't mind coming down for tea or you saying trampoline and fresh air".

This was said without discussion and without prompting.
I was quite gob smacked she'd obviously bothered to think about it.

NigellasGuest Thu 26-Sep-13 12:43:27

I am able to block access to the internet from specific devices at set times. It's called Access Control. If you have BT internet you will have it.

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 12:47:54

Starball how I wish they could police themselves... I have been hoping that they would set their own limits ....but the internet just offers up soooo many distractions.

Even when my Dc hang out together , or have friends' round, their time is spent focussed round a screen. If I didn't tell them to stop I don't think they ever would , other than brief forages into the kitchen for snacks!

When it's limited they go outside, read books , hang out together, do their homework etc. They enjoy themselves but given the choice they'd rather be talking crap on ask fm.

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 12:50:51

Nigella It's the set times I can't be dealing with. I'm looking to give them a set amount of time per day to be used as and when they want.

Setting times just isn't practical day to day. I don't want to be constantly reprogramming

bdbfan Thu 26-Sep-13 12:52:22

Can you change the wifi password?

I saw a funny pic on fb the other day, it was a note a parent had left for their kids:

Want today's wifi password?
Walk the dog
Load dishwasher
Pack away washing

I laughedgrin

wakemeupnow Thu 26-Sep-13 12:54:50

bdbfan grin

toriap2 Thu 26-Sep-13 12:55:31

Hi you can depending on which router you have. We have it so dds tablet goes off at 9 but all other devices stay on. We have a sky router if that helps

theredhen Thu 26-Sep-13 13:02:44

Sorry "by" was a typo. It's a bt router. Home hub 2 I believe.

friday16 Fri 27-Sep-13 00:26:58

I'm looking to give them a set amount of time per day to be used as and when they want.

You won't be able to do that with standard domestic equipment. Sorry. If you were willing to pay someone with fairly deep skills, then you could lash a solution up with an old PC, Linux and hostapd, but I think the level of control you are wanting would involve a fair amount of work even given that kit of parts. It might be a nice little business to produce something like you are asking for and package it in a small box.

NoComet Fri 27-Sep-13 00:39:43

I'm not saying DD2 totally limits herself, nor is she. She's just saying she doesn't fight being remained there are other things in life, because she can go back to her computer. She also can't sit still forever, her legs head for the trampoline come sun, rain or snow.

DD1 can sit still, but not necessarily at a screen as she reads, draws and does bits of craft. It takes me on one arm and DD2 on the other to get her on the trampoline. OK she's a not very sporty 15 year old and DD2 does gymnastics. So we are a bit mean.

wakemeupnow Fri 27-Sep-13 06:59:57

friday16 Thanks for your help. It surprises me that it's so difficult.

I wonder how they do it in cafes ?... In some they give you a code and that gives you a limmited time....

I wish I was more tech savvy , maybe there's a business opportunity there... I should probably ask my kids , they would come up with a solution and then hack it

NotsoSmugNow Fri 27-Sep-13 07:33:13

I've got a UsemyNet router in my cafe that provides 'code-based' access to the wifi; you can restrict it based on time, the amount up- or down-loaded etc etc.

But it controls it by device, not by user - if one of my customers wanted to log in with two different devices they'd have two different 'logins' with a set allowance on each, if you get what I mean?

friday16 Fri 27-Sep-13 07:55:03

I wonder how they do it in cafes ?... In some they give you a code and that gives you a limited time....

Yes, provided you've you've got a fully featured web-browser to enter the code or use to perform a login. With that assumption a reasonably competent nerd could probably help you do it: you'd need to replace the firmware on your router with DD-WRT, or spend fifty quid on a cheap router to use alongside your existing one and put DD-WRT on that. That's what's called a "captive portal": the first time you visit a webpage you're dumped to an authentication page, you type in a code, and then all the magic happens elsewhere to limit your time, bandwidth, etc. You'd sign up for a service like a Community Hotspot and it'd all be good.

This only works if every session is book-ended with a web-browsing session (to handle "login" and "logout"). If you are willing to have everyone "login" and "logout" using the web browser on their device (and that might open up additional problems, because the browsers on-board games consoles don't have parental control software) then as you say, what you've got is essentially a cafe hotspot (slightly more complex as you actually want per-user authentication, rather than vouchers, but that is supported by the software I've pointed you to).

But I suspect that such a solution wouldn't last more than a few weeks. It's inevitable that people would forget to log out (called away for tea, or whatever) and that would result in allocations being burnt up. The need to have either a keyboard plugged in or mess about with on-screen keyboards would mean that people would use simple passwords, and they would become known to other people in the house. Having to "log off" and "log on" would be very, very irritating. You'd have to "whitelist" other devices on your network that can't or shouldn't do authentication (TV, Internet Radio, your own iPhones, whatever).

I confess, when I replied last night I didn't realise that every modern games console has a reasonable web browser in it. My teenagers don't have consoles at all, because I'm member of the Amish community I think they are vile, so won't have them in the house. So I was assuming you'd have a reasonable number of devices around which you would want to time limit, but which couldn't do per-user login via a browser. Your incredulity prompted me to look in more detail, so I will alter my answer:

If you have a web-browser available in each device your children use, and you are willing to permit them to use it (which might bypass parental controls elsewhere) and enforce a policy of login/logout around each gaming session, then although you'd need a nerd, some nerve and some time spent bedding the solution in, it's possible to do it for probably around fifty quid.

wakemeupnow Fri 27-Sep-13 08:01:05

Thanks smug that could be the answer.. friday16 gave me a really interesting link but it's just too complicated for me confused

I just searched up UsemyNet and it looks fairly simple to use... I need to replace my router anyway... I will look into it a bit more.

with 3dc this issue is not going to go away .... ho hum...

I really appreciate all the help everyone has given here. I'm sure i'm not alone in being fed up with being the Screen Gestapo !

wakemeupnow Fri 27-Sep-13 08:04:53

Wow.. Thanks so for the detailed post friday... handing your post over to my DH .. he's much more nerdy than me wink

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 06:48:54

toria we have a sky router as well. How did you do it please?

friday16 Sun 29-Sep-13 07:51:45

We have it so dds tablet goes off at 9 but all other devices stay on

As a point of information, the mechanism by which this works can be bypassed for most devices (all computers, many consoles, most tablets and phones) by a reasonably tech-savvy 13 year old.

Jenny70 Sun 29-Sep-13 08:11:05

Simplest answer is to change the wifi code at set time of day... you keep it and can access it, but only tell them next day. Very simple to cut access before/after certain time, but not solving the switching from one to another endlessly dilemma.

I believe net nanny has the ability to monitor usage and websites per login - can say no facebook after 8pm, only 2hrs of minecraft etc, but not sure on xbox etc. I don't have it, so can't vouch for ease of use or bypassability!

friday16 Sun 29-Sep-13 08:34:47

Simplest answer is to change the wifi code at set time of day

How many devices do you have in your house? We don't have any consoles, but nonetheless the WiFi is serving four phones, three laptops, a desktop, a TV and an Internet-connected radio (both with hideous "scroll and click" input mechanisms) and an iPad. And we have regular visitors (grandparents, mostly) who have their phones/laptops configured to use our WiFi when they visit. I doubt any of this is atypical in a house with teenagers, and the absence of consoles and the fact that we only have one iPad means we probably have fewer devices than many. Changing the WPA secret daily? Seriously?

wakemeupnow Sun 29-Sep-13 10:27:04

I had an idea which may work....

buy another cheap router which the Dc have password to and which goes on and off at set times and keep the old router which Dh and I use which only we know the password to.

That way we could limit them and not us... Still doesn't solve the problem of how to allow an amount of time without set scheduled hours......

also if you unplug a router does it reset the settings automatically ? , if not I'm sure it wouldn't take the long to suss that out hmm

This idea also presumably doubles the amount of invisible wifi waves in our home environment which isn't great confused

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 10:33:41

Dare I say it, but we all could just try trusting our children to be sensible?

Obviously I will be doing this. That is, after I have installed Net Nanny, which is available with a £5 discount this week.

friday16 Sun 29-Sep-13 10:48:22

Dare I say it, but we all could just try trusting our children to be sensible?

Indeed. My daughters are 15 and 17. We've had an unrestricted, "as fast as the technology of the time" internet connection in the house since before they were born (about 1992, I think) and have never implemented any significant filtering. I have, occasionally, taken a seven-day snapshot of what they're doing, and not found anything to concern me. If people's children can't be trusted to use computers sensibly, why do they permit their children to have computers?

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 11:00:38

Friday I agree, depending on the child. I have Windows family safety on my eldest's laptop and will have Net Nanny on the one for my youngest but later will just stick with WFS for them as well.
I have it more to block what they might accidentally come across rather than what they might intentionally see - my DD stumbled across a horrible self harm site when doing some citizenship homework.

wakemeupnow Sun 29-Sep-13 11:29:02

Just out of interest how long do your Dc spend on screens a day when left to their own devices ?

friday16 Sun 29-Sep-13 11:36:38

Just out of interest how long do your Dc spend on screens a day when left to their own devices ?

Aside from doing homework? Half an hour, an hour maybe. There's slightly more multi-tasking with phones running while they're downstairs (there's only one TV) than there was a few years ago, I guess: they live-tweet #gbbo, for example. No video games, no computer games, no consoles, no TVs in bedrooms makes a huge difference, of course. They appear to follow a few vloggers, use facebook to make social plans, that's about it.

When people complain about "too much screen time" what are their children doing? Computer games? The solution's simple.

NotsoSmugNow Sun 29-Sep-13 11:45:13

If people's children can't be trusted to use computers sensibly, why do they permit their children to have computers?

Because DCs make mistakes, succumb to peer pressure and don't understand the risks.

We talked only yesterday to DSS(10) who recently searched Youtube for the word 'sex'. Because he hasn't got an account so hadn't confirmed his age, the search didn't return any results. We asked him if he'd searched for the same thing on Google. He said that he didn't see the point because he thought that Google would do the same thing. How long before he works out that isnt the case - and a Google search will return all sorts of horrendous results?

We can tell him not to search for 'sex', 'big boobs' etc but really? Of course he's going to do it! What's important is that what he sees is harmless (Phil Scofield interviewing a lady with huge knockers on daytime TV) not adult-content or porn. Filters and restrictions are critical to allow DCs to experiment and grow up safely - just like stabilisers on a bike; they keep them safe until they've learnt the skills to manage without.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Sun 29-Sep-13 12:05:49

Just about all the time sad She doesn't play games but I have no real idea what she is doing unless I check the windows family safety logs.
A quick peek just now shows 93% of the websites were facebook, the bbc (which she used more than any other), and wikipedia.

friday16 Sun 29-Sep-13 12:27:42

How long before he works out that isnt the case - and a Google search will return all sorts of horrendous results?

A Google search for "sex"? I've got a Google account and all the safety catches turned off, and the first dozen pages of results look pretty innocuous. There's a moderately racy Cosmopolitan article, but the rest is from the New York Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and other such places. And The American Conservative. For page after page of results, it's mostly hits on newspaper and magazine articles, and nothing that would be "top shelf", never mind "plastic wrapped". I got bored after a while, but page 22 features a rather good article from The New Yorker about Sex in the City.

"Big boobs" gives some salacious results with Safesearch turned off (there's a link to xvideos on the first page, for example), but with Google Safesearch turned on it's mostly stuff about the film "Big", "Big Brother", etc. Because "The word "boobs" has been filtered from the search because Google SafeSearch is active". I think Safesearch is on by default these days, isn't it, and you have to actively opt out? Dunno.

My assumption is that anyone old enough to search for this sort of stuff is old enough to bypass the restrictions, by the way. The filters will stop an incurious nine year old, but for anyone else they present very little challenge.

NotsoSmugNow Sun 29-Sep-13 12:59:52

The filters will stop an incurious nine year old, but for anyone else they present very little challenge.

That's good to know - we'll stop worrying about it then!

wakemeupnow Sun 29-Sep-13 18:03:12

If people's children can't be trusted to use computers sensibly, why do they permit their children to have computers?

I am not particularly worried about them being exposed to dodgy things. I can check their histories and have never found anything disturbing.
My teens have an x box they never use so it's not even gaming that's a problem here.

The problem in our house is the more social side of computers and phones that has them constantly checking and answering messages, creating silly photoshop pictures to send , checking the latest on 9 gag or twitter etc. It's all pretty harmless stuff and, in moderation, a fun way to communicate .... but SO much time can be frittered away on this.

The urge to answer the latest message or check a status update is pretty addictive and very distractive.

friday16 Mon 30-Sep-13 00:04:43

I can check their histories and have never found anything disturbing.

It's fortunate that browsers don't have Porn Mode "Private Browsing" that allows you to browse without anything being added to your history. Oh, wait, they do? Damn.

wakemeupnow Mon 30-Sep-13 06:20:44

Sure I've found a bit of porn from time to time but I'd say that's fairly normal for ds' 15 and 17.

I do fear for them though because I think that our Teens have absolutely no concept of the digital trail they are leaving behind them that could potentially come back to haunt them one day.

They don't get it that anything they post online is equivialent to putting the same on a billboard in the centre of town.

friday16 Mon 30-Sep-13 07:15:34

They don't get it that anything they post online is equivialent to putting the same on a billboard in the centre of town.

As a long-term Internet (and its precursors) user Google has some rather purple prose I wrote in 1984. Most of early Usenet was thought lost, but some backup tapes turned up about ten years ago and gave Google a slightly patchy view of the mid-1980s, which happens to include me. There's then a pretty continuous stream of my writing from 1987 onwards, almost all under my real name. I'm fairly relaxed about it.

MaddAddam Mon 30-Sep-13 18:59:12

It's a bit late for some of this if your teens have multiple devices, but I have fairly sensible (and reasonably honest) 13 and 12 year olds and we do restrict their internet access as the 12yo is quite obsessive in nature about tv/computers/life in general and finds it hard to moderate. 13yo would be fine, probably.

A condition of getting laptops was that they went to sleep at 9pm til 7am. Yes a savvy child could adjust that, and one dd is learning computer programming already, but we trust them not to. And if they did we'd just remove the laptops - a week at a time, or only to be used in our company. So it's a condition of getting the device that it's used with limits and they stick to this even if they can amend the settings. They don't yet have smartphones though 12yo nearly got one recently, but I'd make them hand them in at 9pm too, I've heard other people do this and it works fine.

My dp is a computer programmer, we have a home server and a networked house so he is very adept at checking browsing history but we don't feel the need so far.

So it's a mixture of setting the systems to close down, then negotiating an agreed use, and there being sanctions if they don't stick to it.

I find I have to censor my own internet use too, it's not just dc, I don't have a smartphone cos I know I wouldn't stop checking work emails day and night. And I have a non-wifi kindle not a tablet cos I know I'd keep stopping reading to browse the internet. It's not just kids and you don't necessarily grow out of needing settings and limits, IMO. so I'm trying to teach the dc to set their own limits but realistically, how many of us succeed?

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 19:17:49

And you all know what your carefully monitored DCs are doing at their friends houses and their/their friends iPhones on the school bus.

Mucking about on FB (which they are not allowed, DD2) and googling big tits and far worse if they are boys. Girls probably do too, but you can be certain girls learn to clear their history first.

friday16 Mon 30-Sep-13 19:34:18

And you all know what your carefully monitored DCs are doing at their friends houses and their/their friends iPhones on the school bus.

A few years ago, one of our friends sat us down and had A Very Serious Conversation about how we were irresponsible to permit our children to use Facebook (they were at this stage something like 15 and 13) and how their sons (similarly aged) not only didn't use it, but wouldn't be using it had not even asked about it. Had we considered following in their ludicrous virtuous footsteps?

We managed to keep a straight face, and then afterwards confirmed with our kids what we already knew, that our friend's sons had been using Facebook for years, mostly round at the neighbour's house, occasionally on the family computer.

This was all ludicrously self-defeating, and smacked of parents who insist that their DDs would never have sex (or, as they probably think of it, s e x) right up until the appointment at the abortion clinic. The only reason for the much-bruited "you have to be 13" rule on FB (&c) is a clause in COPPA which makes it onerous for US companies who are offering services within the US to accept 12 year olds as customers. They're not imposing that because they've made some careful judgement about appropriate ages, they're doing it because collecting parental consents is a pain. I made my own judgement, in the manner of 12A films, and was therefore able to regularly ask my kids if there were any problems and also, critically, sit with them and (a) set up their privacy controls properly and (b) establish two-factor authentication tied to their phones so that their accounts couldn't be hi-jacked.

Lo and behold, the friend's sons ended up with some hideous bullying problem, one had their account compromised, neither had their privacy settings done properly and after this all kicked off, they didn't dare tell their parents because they officially weren't using FB in the first place. Utter shambles.

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 20:14:15

Exactly I hope that if my DDs get in a mess they will have the sense to talk to me or DH as, having given them free range in everything except FB, they know week only dole out minor bollockings without looking silly.

NoComet Mon 30-Sep-13 20:15:37

Week = we can (how autocorrect, just how?!)

fourpaws Mon 30-Sep-13 21:39:10

Ah yes, its hateful having to keep on at them, isn't it? Funnily enough we had a discussion about this at teatime, and it was remarkably civil - kids (13 & 16) did recognise that youtube & tickld were in danger of eating up their lives, and that they needed more exercise/sleep/to do a bit more around the house etc. And volunteered that they wd try to limit themselves, so we didn't turn off their devices, social networking etc for hours on end. They even agreed to have wifi off from 9-9.30 on w/e mornings, to remind them to get out of bed!!

I am lucky as OH quite tech savvy so has been able to selectively block social networking at 'homework time' (tbh is big help for me too, I work at home), and also allow different devices different times for access to internet. It is pretty fiddly, don't think I'd be able to do it.

But we find its really important to get as much buy-in as possible - expect all here are familiar with the despairing rage of a teenager unexpectedly cut off from their 'supplies' - which just takes the whole process backwards in our experience.

KatyPutTheCuttleOn Tue 01-Oct-13 06:51:56

I just installed Net Nanny instead of Windows Family Safety. DD prefers it, she says it's working better as it doesn't block things when it shouldn't and it gives me more information if I want it - I now know that she has been visiting a free site where they could download films; Net Nanny blocked it whereas WFS didn't.

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