The Diamond Age: Familying long distance
December 26, 2014 6:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be a world away from my 9 year old nephew. How can I a) set up a Windows 7 netbook in a kid safe way so we can keep in touch, and b) provide some basic tech support, remotely?

* Keeping in contact
Techy considerations:
* I'm the usual 'tech support' for his family, which I'd still like to do from a distance
* Setting it up in a kid safe way?

Very soon, I'm going to be on the other side of the world from my almost 9 year old nephew, for probably two years. He'll still have a strong supportive family network, but I've been maybe the number two adult in his life. They moved towns this year, which has already been really hard, but our interactions have still been based around in person visits, which I'm not going to have.
I need to find ways to keep being "there for him", without being there in person.

My current ideas for keeping in contact:
* Skype or Google Hangouts - Being able to see when we're both online and just chatting would be even better than scheduled hangouts, as our family isn't known for punctuality. Being able to chat regularly, ask about his homework etc would be great.
* Set up a shared Drive or Dropbox folder, so I can leave him pictures, videos, things to watch etc
- He's said he'd like me to send him videos of stories I'd usually read to him, etc
* Scoot & Doodle? Drawing app together in Hangouts?
* Google Earth - for a game of where in the world is Elysum... :)
* Real world - Postcards, letters, and excessively wrapped parcels from strange lands. I can only imagine that the childhood excitement of a Real Letter has increased with their rarity. I can still send him books he's chatted to me about, and things like that.

I really didn't mean most of the computer things to be Google-ish? But if it's one account, that would be easier.

The Techy side - skip if you just have suggestions for keeping in contact!:
He has a single parent, so his internet usage is mostly-to-somewhat supervised, but no blockers, it's usually logged into the parents social networking sites etc, and he has free run of youtube (minecraft videos?), etc. He's a really good kid though, so there haven't been any problems there.
His parent isn't super computer literate, so I get handed their (family) laptop to fix it/clear the crap and malware off it every so often. The usual family tech support role.

He now has his own Samsung netbook with Windows 7 Starter on it (Christmas gift).

Given all that background, I'd like to set this netbook up for him.
Firstly, so we can keep in touch, but I'd also like to keep an extra eye on his computer usage if possible (blocking particular websites if needed, and monitoring any social media usage), and finally, installing a remote access tool so I can attempt to fix things/uninstall stuff if anything is borked.

Trying to figure out the best way to accomplish this at short notice.

Are there simple remote access parental controls?

Should I just go ahead set up a separate Google account for it?
I'd love it if I could restrict Hangouts to a whitelist of close family and friends only, or make sure text chats are forwarded onto me (I don't think I can set up forwarding on chats?). Should I use Viber instead, as in this askme?
I was thinking with it's 'own' google account he wouldn't be seeing an adults email etc, and his parent would have the password for it, not him. I could set up mail-forwarding directing to me, so I can check the account isn't getting any weird invites or communications. I could therefore have all the settings on kid-safe (youtube etc), and I would notice if he fiddled with them. I'd actually trust him not to add strangers to hangouts etc, more so than most of his peers, he'd only want to add his friends. If he did fiddle, I tell his parent, and voila, no netbook.

Remote access software - I haven't used any, so just something like Teamviewer?

I can't be the first person trying to do this, but if so, I can't find much on how to set this up. Thanks mefi.
posted by Elysum to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Windows 7 has good remote desktop access built in. Get the authorization set up, and you can get remote control with screen mirroring, so you can admin it it from afar as if you were there. You will need a windows pro-grade OS version to do the administration, so make sure you test it all before you go.

Set up a windows 7 user account with admin capability, and make sure that you have the password and the nephew doesn't. Set up a non-admin account for the nephew to use, exclusively.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2014

I use Team Viewer for this. Installed it on my parents machine in India, I live in the US. I can still login to my parents PC and fix issues for them that crop up.
posted by harisund at 7:55 PM on December 26, 2014

TeamViewer is great for remote access, and it's free for non-commercial use. It works from behind firewalls too, so you won't have to do any network fiddling.
posted by neckro23 at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2014

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