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I need a foolproof computer control software or an alternative solution

Posted on 2010-09-23
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Last Modified: 2013-12-04
Here's a summary.

My little brother is 13 - he plays on the PC too much.  He's addicted to starcraft II and other video games.  His grades are very bad.  He needs to limit his PC time, but I cannot take away the PC completely because he still needs it for school.

I installed watchdog, which in theory is great.  I limited his PC access to certain hours of the day and disabled access to certain programs.  But he is good with computers.

He will simply google ways to get around watchdog.  

First he did a killtask command in the cmd prompt.  After I found out about that - I disabled cmd.exe so he cannot access it.  
Then he used other programs to access cmd prompt .. renaming notepad to .bat or something.
Then I disabled notepad and basically a lot of other programs and a lot of his rights - I don't remember exactly what I did, but it was a lot of the options on Watchdog to not allow registry changes and things like that.

Then, recently, according to the history, he was googling youtube videos on how to access the PC without a password and how to find out the pw on your computer and how to find out the pw without cmd... I'm not sure exactly what he did because there are like 10 youtube links of him trying to do this and I have not looked at them yet.  But I do know that he was looking at these videos at around 9:20 PM, two days ago.  And coincidentally, at around 9:30 PM, watchdog was shut off permanently and it seems to have been deleted from the PC ever since ..  the icon is still there but I cannot open it anymore .. so he has free reign to play his games 24/7.

He claims he has not done anything but try to mess with the comodo firewall to disable watchdog.

What I was planning on doing is reinstalling watchdog and this time restricting youtube and facebook access.. maybe just limiting internet access to the two websites he needs.  But even then, I don't know what he did, so he can still do it again if he remembers.  Therefore I would have to look at those videos and make sure he isn't able to do it again.  I am just wondering if there is a better, easier, and more effective solution in going about limiting his computer access.  He is hooked and he it seems like he will do whatever it takes to get on there to play his games or go on facebook, even lie to my face!

The PC is windows 7 - it would also be nice if I can monitor his usage remotely, and also give him extra time and things like that based on his needs, all remotely.  That would be nice, but as you can see, the main thing is I need something that is strict that would not allow him to "google" his way out of the restrictions.

Any ideas/suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Question by:Kenny537
11 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:Progressed
ID: 33745563
sweet!

sorry.. im having no answer but you have to admit... this is genius for a 13y old! :)

i remember myself in this on my commadore64!
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Author Comment

by:Kenny537
ID: 33745605
You wouldn't say that if you looked at his grades!
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Accepted Solution

by:
Camy earned 84 total points
ID: 33745621
With physical access to a PC and enough time you will struggle to stop him if he's that keen. Might not be the easy answer but i recommend working on your brother rather than the computer to be honest!

You can't really stop access to search engines and still provide a PC for searching. Swap it for a notepad and calculator or disconnect the broadband and let him use if for word processing!
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Assisted Solution

by:ctown_larrymac
ctown_larrymac earned 167 total points
ID: 33745635
Have you done all of this within the confines of a limited user account?  You can lock down machines pretty well these days without needing a lot of third party software.  Combining software like Watchdog with a bare bones user account within Windows should deal with most of it - don't give him the ability to install software and restrict internet access to a whitelist of sites.

That said, if all else fails, take away the PC.  My kids get along without one for the most part.  I let them use mine, but haven't given them their own at least in part because of these issues.  If he can't abide by the rules of the PC, then no PC.  If he NEEDS it for school, then he can use it when  someone is around to manually enforce the rules.
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Author Comment

by:Kenny537
ID: 33745660
Okay, forget providing a PC for searching and forget about controlling it remotely.  I won't be moving out for at least a month anyway.  I don't really think he needs access to search engines for his homework, he really just needs his 2 homework websites.
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Author Comment

by:Kenny537
ID: 33745700
He certainly isn't using the Administrator account on Win 7, but I have not looked into customizing the limitations on his own account.  I will look into that to as an added measure.  But I doubt that will prevent what he did.  Sorry,  I will have to look at the videos to see specifically what he did and get back to you guys.

The problem with limiting his PC access to only when someone is there is that no one IS there.  My parents and I work late, and I want him to do his HW not too long after he comes home from school.  I don't think it's practical in our situation for us to only let him use it when someone is around, because usually no one will be.
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Assisted Solution

by:ctown_larrymac
ctown_larrymac earned 167 total points
ID: 33745787
Within Windows 7, create a separate account with Parental Controls turned on.  From there, you can set times that the PC can be used, block all games and specify which applications can be run.  I don't think you can limit websites there, but certainly Watchdog could do that and you can also eliminate the ability to use a browser and turn the PC into a high-end word processor.
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 83 total points
ID: 33745823
You can get a router that disables internet access at specific times and place the router in a locked place so he cannot reset it.

If memory serves, you can enable parental controls on the kid's account and prevent him from accessing the computer at certain times.  You MUST make sure you do not give him an administrator account (account with administrator privileges) and make sure all other admin accounts are using passwords he doesn't know

You can look into features of openDNS.  If he has a limited account he cannot alter network settings so if you configure the computer to use the OPENDNS dns servers, he cannot change them.  Nor can he edit the hosts file.  Trying to block a user with admin rights is pointless (and he clearly has admin rights or watchdog would have worked).
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Assisted Solution

by:jimmmg
jimmmg earned 83 total points
ID: 33750102
try Sentry PC, it is invisible to users.
http://www.monitoring-softwares.com/
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Assisted Solution

by:johnb6767
johnb6767 earned 83 total points
ID: 33765876
What ver happened to discipline, and when he breaks the rules he goes to the library to use the pc?

I say this somewhat jokingly, but I have 4 kids, and they can still do their hw without their pc...

Change the boot order in the bios to only the c drive, and setup a bios password.

Lock the case so he can't pull the battery to clear the cmos psw, and change the boot order. Now he can't boot to a util to crack the psw...

Make the admin accounts secure with strong passwords, and give hinm his limited account. Now he can't end processes using taskkill , that are in place to restrict him.

Give him DENY rights on the starcraft, and other directories. Now he can't play the games.

That doesn't work, buy him a typewriter.... Kids have been doing homework without the web for years, using the library....

$.02
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Author Closing Comment

by:Kenny537
ID: 33832093
We are trying an alternative, less restrictive system.  Thanks everyone!
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