Block All But A Handful Of Websites
June 18, 2005 3:19 PM   Subscribe

My four year old now has his own account on my computer and I would like to deny access to all but a handful of pre-selected websites. Can this be done with what comes with XP Pro? Failing that, how can I do this for free?
posted by kc0dxh to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
offhand i'd say to pick up a free firewall and default block all outgoing port 80 requests except the domains you want to use -- when you want to use the computer, either use a diff. account (presuming the firewall works with user profiles) or simply turn off the firewall (it's likely the firewall will have password protection for disabling it).

i don't actually run soft firewalls on my computer, so I can't recommend one, nor do i know if this functionality is built into the sp2 xp firewall, but what you want to do should be fairly easy to accomplish. i'm sure someone can offer you a more detailed step-by-step guide to achieving a solution.
posted by fishfucker at 3:47 PM on June 18, 2005

this would probably do what you want - i googled for "http proxy filter" and went to the first link that looked like it would be free.

the idea is that you configure their browser to request pages via this software; it does the filtering. it's trivial to work around by simply adjusting the browser settings, but fine for a 4 year old, i would think.

the firewall idea might work, but would need to be configurable person by person (i don't know which firewalls would do that).
posted by andrew cooke at 4:05 PM on June 18, 2005

If the hosts file allows wildcards, you can use it to route everything but a few specific IPs to localhost.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on June 18, 2005

Maybe I'm completely missing something, but he's four. Will he really have a whole lot of unsupervised computer time?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:03 PM on June 18, 2005

Response by poster: Please allow me to fill in the blanks. I'm, or rather he, is using FireFox on WinXP Pro. He has his own account on the machine and is permitted, at times, to switch to his account. This means that, amoung other things, the hosts file is off limits since it works system wide. This has to work for only his account.

He will not have totally unsupervised computer time. I've got him set up so FireFox starts with just two web pages: and It's the PBS site that troubles me some. He sometimes ends up on sites *other* than and it's just this that I'm trying to prevent. Good call LittleMissCranky. I'd be the first to point this out to anyone else asking the same question.

I imagine a proxy will work for now. It's a great idea to get me started, but it won't work well enough for him in the coming years. I don't expect to keep him under such strict control when he's older, but until he can demonstrate a need, he's on a prescribed list of websites only. Please keep the ideas coming!
posted by kc0dxh at 7:22 PM on June 18, 2005

Kid Rocket is an easy way to do this. It will only connect to 13 children's sites which are already programmed into it.

Kid Rocket runs from the executable (no installation.) Here is my "kids" XP account setup:

1. Create a "Kids" XP account (no administrative privileges.)
2. Download the exe. to the desktop.
3. Delete all other browser shortcuts from the desktop and start menu on that account.
4. When you need to download a new version (expired versions no longer work) enable the address bar in the recycle bin and download the new version. When finished, disable the address bar in the recycle bin.
posted by tommunation at 8:16 PM on June 18, 2005

Echoing FFF, you could kill DNS service to the computer (if that's possible at the user level) and just put the selected sites in your Hosts file.
posted by yerfatma at 8:35 PM on June 18, 2005

Best answer: Ok: for some reason I wanted to do some more research on this one. Here's a reasonable way to do this that will only affect his account (assuming that firefox has multiple profiles for diff xp accounts, which it should).

From this website the following was written regarding IE:

You don't need to do that....

Just go to..

Tools > Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings

In the proxies put in some bogus host..

In the "Do not use proxy server for.... " put in the sites you only want to allow him to visit.


to do this on firefox go to Tools/Options and under General, you should see "Connection Settings" -- click that button, then pick "Manual Proxy Configuration" -- put in localhost as the proxy (or possibly an IP that can't exist, like 999.999.999.999 if firefox will let you do that. Not sure if using localhost as a proxy will allow you to hit websites or not -- you'll find out quickly, though).

Now, under "no proxy for", enter in the websites (separated by a comma) that you want your child to be able to access.

Basically what's happening here is whenever your child tries to hit a website not listed in that "no proxy for" list, the browser will try to ask the fake proxy you've put in for the info, at which point the browser will eventually time out because it can't hit the proxy/the proxy doesn't have information about how to reach that website.

hope that works out for you. A real simple solution that should work until the kid knows more about computers than you do (so you've got a fix for maybe 3 years).

good luck!
posted by fishfucker at 10:46 PM on June 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

>> I'm, or rather he, is using FireFox on WinXP Pro. He has his own account on the machine and is permitted, at times, to switch to his account. < br>
fwiw you can have more than one "profile" in firefox. You can set up separate profile shortcuts on the desktop: for example my FF sortcut is
"D:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe" -p alan
and we have similar for each famiy member who wants one, plus a general one. the downside is that to activate a new profile all other profiles must first be closed (For SOME uses this may be better than a separate Windosw account, but not necessarily the one kc0dxh needs)
posted by anadem at 11:50 PM on June 18, 2005

ha. fishfucker's solution is sweet.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2005

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