Internet filter / tracking software for seven year old
February 8, 2020 3:48 PM   Subscribe

My soon to be eight year old is now on YouTube, etc.; and not always supervised. He spends his time mostly on MineCraft videos, Wild Kratz, and more MineCraft videos; and he uses Apple platforms to do so. I'd like to be able to see where he goes to; control where he can / can not go to; and to be able to track and control his time on his devices. TIA mefi folk. :)
posted by Afghan Stan to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you already gone into all of the Screen Time content settings? That's a good first start.
posted by k8t at 3:57 PM on February 8

If you set up an account for YouTube you can see all the activity, and edit it as needed, including hiding stuff you don’t want recommended.

There is no block feature, and ultimately we wound up removing YouTube from the device.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:57 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

Amazon freetime has the most control ive found so far. The default by age videos are very resricted and skew young, but you can add permissions for individual videos. This can be a bit tedious at first though and I've only used the android versions. The youtube kids app is good, but i havent found the ability to grant permission to individual videos and they seem to allow videos based on the creator rather than the actual video content, so someone who regularly vlogs about call of duty but also has some videos about minecraft would not be on there. My sympathies, kid content control is very scattered and annoying!
posted by WeekendJen at 9:46 PM on February 8

Some routers have excellent facilities for controlling access by device, including session time limits and lockout periods. The ones I've seen work by using the MAC address (this stands for media access control, nothing to do with Apple) of the target device(s). This will control access for any device you choose while it is using the home wifi network. Once they're not using the home wifi you have no control with this method.

I also use a custom hosts file which is mainly for ad blocking, but can be used for blocking sites too. This is a per-device thing though and I have no idea how, or even if it's practically possible, to add a custom hosts file to an iOS device. Easy enough to do on any computer though and the file includes instructions.

Neither of the above will track your kid's activity and I'm not sure how you would do that apart from checking their browser history or installing a key logger or the like. Be aware that key loggers may be be illegal where you live and would be difficult or impossible to install on iOS.

It may be that you will need a combination of things, but I would start with Apple's managed account settings - Parental Controls on the Mac and Screen Time for iOS - on each device and see how that goes. There's a tutorial on Screen Time here.
posted by mewsic at 2:35 AM on February 9

Personally I'd worry less about the short term setback of seeing unsavory material a couple years too early, and more about the long term damage of providing companies like Google with not just an intimate look but a chance to shape your kid's psyche before they're even in the double digit ages.

But if that's cool, then mewsic's recommendation of router access control is a good one.
posted by -1 at 8:52 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]

How much space does the iPad have on it? In a PC / Android environment, I might be inclined to download the videos with something like youtube-dl and play them on the tablet with a video player like VLC, which appears to have an iOS version according to Wikipedia. A bonus is that the videos would be viewable with no internet connection.
posted by XMLicious at 3:38 PM on February 9

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