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How to Monitor a Childs INternet Access

Posted on 2013-01-23
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Last Modified: 2013-02-09
Children these days have access to computers, tablets and smaller mobile devices (iTouch) that all have internet capabilities.  How can I monitor what they are doing on all these devices when they are home?  Is there some type of Internet Proxy Service designed for parents?
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Question by:deklinm
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Thomas Zucker-Scharff earned 250 total points
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38810765
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
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by:jcimarron
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deklinm---Assuming the child is using Internet Explorer, you can see all the sites visited, including sites of images, by installing IEHistory View
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/iehv.html

For mobile phones
http://www.stealthgenie.com/parental-control.html
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38810856
jcimarron Depending on what the OP wants, what you suggest doesn't seem very proactive.  There are parental controls you can put on your wifi AP (that generally come with the AP - just login as the administrator and go to parental controls - same as your TV).  Also I suggest using a different hosts file (on windows machines) from mvps - download from here: http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm.  It reroutes most known bad sites back to the home computer (127.0.0.1) so the actual site is never seen (good at protecting you against malware as well).
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by:jcimarron
ID: 38811053
tzucker--Proactive??  deklinm asked how to monitor a child's activity--not block it.

P.S.--Badmouthing someoneelse's suggestions is not the norm on E-E unless factually incorrect, illegal or dangerous.
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811293
I will not get into this here, since I was not doing anything of the sort.

As a parent I think I know where this is coming from.  Although my kids are already out of the house, I still know what I went through with them.  I lucked out.  Trust worked (mostly).  But I did put the hosts file I mentioned on every computer in the house.  and put parental controls on the router.  I don't think I needed these, but it couldn't hurt.

Monitoring activity either real-time or after the fact has resulted in some not so happy endings - in my experience (luckily not personal).
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by:deklinm
ID: 38811318
Hello Everyone,

The perfect solution would allow me to restrict adult sites, provide activity reports (if i choose), and be able to monitor internet usage from a windows 7, imac, itouch and ipad.

Now since there are so many devices that are easily available it seems that it makes most sense (to me) to have some type of network level offering.  Maybe a gateway redirect/proxy or something.  Years ago it was so much easier.  Kid's had one device and all i needed to do was install a piece of software.  Boy have things changed.

Is anyone aware of any services that will allow me to employ a solution like this while also giving me the ability to somehow bypass the parental rules so the adults can do what they want on the internet.  For example, a child may not be ready for Facebook and as a result it should be blocked but the adults will want access.  Is there an over-ride password or something?
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811359
A parental control on your router will allow that, but does not provide you with reports or a way to monitor use.  Assuming that all the devices are used in the home (big assumption) and on wifi (another big assumption) there are utilities to monitor network traffic and report there use.  Aruba has a very nice one, but it works best with their hardware. (we use it here at work where we have Aruba access points dispersed throughout the college)  There is software like netnanny that purports to do stuff like that - but I have no firsthand knowledge.
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by:deklinm
ID: 38811370
the home router does not give me the ability to override the settings for an adult.  So if i block online games or social networks its is blocked for everyone.  The only way around it would be to change the configuration and this will affect everyone
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811410
Hmmm.  Doesn't sound like a great router.  I've had that option on my home router for about 5-10 years now.  At any rate that won't help you at the moment.  Have you looked into software like Netnanny?
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by:deklinm
ID: 38811423
NetNanny appears to be a device based solution.  Meaning i have to install software on each device i want monitored.  Also, i did not see an option for iPad.
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811558
I see applications that need to be installed on devices and windows based applications, but nothing for the iPad.  This seems like a decent product (never heard of it before though) http://www.spectorsoft.com but it requires windows and installation.  Early in 2012 a company called CarrierIQ received a lot of unwanted publicity along with their customers - some ISPs - for essentially spying on their users.  It is a commercial vendor level company though.

Beyond that, I'm afraid I'm at a loss and am interested in any answers you receive.
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by:jcimarron
ID: 38811679
deklinm---Your HOSTS file will allow you to block adult sites.  And the MVP HOSTS.zip file will supply you with lots of adult sites to block in one operation.
http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm

And you can toggle the Hosts File on and off when adults want to access a site.
http://www.accs-net.com/hosts/HostsToggle/  I think it works on Win 7 as well.
Or you can make your own .bat file to toggle.
---------------------------------
@echo off
cls
goto toggleRename
:toggleRename
      If Not %winbootdir%'==' Set HostsOff=%windir%\NOHOSTS
      If %OS%'==Windows_NT' Set HostsOff=%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\NOHOSTS
      If %HostsOff%'==' goto noIdeaOfOS

      If Not %winbootdir%'==' Set HostsOn=%windir%\HOSTS
      If %OS%'==Windows_NT' Set HostsOn=%SystemRoot%\system32\drivers\etc\HOSTS
      If %HostsOn%'==' goto noIdeaOfOS

      If Not Exist %HostsOff% goto deActivate
      goto Activate
goto end

:deActivate
      if not exist %HostsOn% goto noHostsFile
      ren %HostsOn% NOHOSTS
      echo.
      echo  ÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜ
      echo  Ý                                          ÚÄÄÄ¿Þ
      echo  Ý HOSTS FILE BLOCKING IS NOW DE-ACTIVATED  ³ X ³Þ
      echo  Ý                                          ÀÄÄÄÙÞ
      echo. ßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßß
      echo.
      echo. Advertising will be visible; Parasite protection off!
      echo  Renamed from HOSTS to NOHOSTS
      echo.
goto end

:Activate
      if not exist %HostsOff% goto noHostsFile
      ren %HostsOff% HOSTS
      echo.
      echo  ÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜ
      echo  Ý                                          ÚÄÄÄ¿Þ
      echo  Ý HOSTS FILE BLOCKING IS NOW ACTIVATED     ³ û ³Þ
      echo  Ý                                          ÀÄÄÄÙÞ
      echo. ßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßß
      echo.
      echo. Advertising will be hidden; Parasite protection on!
      echo  Renamed from NOHOSTS to HOSTS
      echo.
goto end

:noIdeaOfOS
      echo Sorry Unsupported OS.
goto end

:noHostsFile
      cls
      echo.
      echo  ÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜÜ
      echo  Ý                                          ÚÄÄÄ¿Þ
      echo  Ý ERROR NO HOST FILES FOUND !              ³ ! ³Þ
      echo  Ý                                          ÀÄÄÄÙÞ
      echo. ßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßßß
      echo .
      echo Couldn't find "HOSTS" or "NOHOSTS" in the folder
      echo.
      echo please check that the HOSTS file is in this folder
      echo thanks..
:end
      set HostsOff=
      set HostsOn=
      pause
      exit
--------------------------
Put the .bat file or the Toggle somewhere obscure (and rename) so the kids won't find it.

I have earlier given you an app for the phone.
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811731
jcimarron - nice batch file, do you mind if I use it?

deklinm - the previous post (combined with the mobile app that the poster mentioned earlier) is probably the best solution you will see.

P.S.  I don't like to be picky but generally attribution of someone else's post is the norm on e-e - see my earlier post on the hosts file.
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by:jcimarron
ID: 38811758
tzucker--You are entirely correct.  I missed your suggestion about MVP HOSTS.  Credit for that is all yours.

deklinm--You can, of course, add any websites you want to the HOSTS file.  The combination of HOSTS and what you learn from IEHistoryViewer should keep the kids off sites you do not want them to access.
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by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
ID: 38811795
NirSoft (www.nirsoft.net) has a slew of different apps you can use to get history from browsers including the IEHistoryViewer that jcimarron mentioned above and MozillaHistoryViewer.  Also you can find a good keystroke logger there.  This is also a good app http://securityxploded.com/browser-history-spy.php to get all browser history (top 3 I believe).  The site has many more apps you may wish to explore.
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