Keep my kids off the internet!
July 27, 2004 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Ok, I have a Dell box with Windows XP. I also have two very smart children (ages 11 and 13). I want to figure out a way to disable the internet connection from time to time. For example, child A doesn't clean their room, so I want to disable internet while at work, from (8a-4p). Is there a way I can do this, some software? The connection is DSL.
posted by patrickje to Computers & Internet (19 answers total)
 
You may have greater luck simply taking possession of the ethernet cable which connects to your router or bridge. It's low-tech, but it'll work.
posted by majick at 8:04 AM on July 27, 2004


Not sure how much stealth you require, but if you go to the Start menu, on the left there's a Connect To option - you can disable your DSL from there, and set it up so that it can only be reconnected with a password, one which you could keep to yourself. Or take the DSL box or cable to work with you.
posted by iconomy at 8:07 AM on July 27, 2004


A smart child will figure out to set your system clock to 5 pm. That will fool any software that relies on the system clock. (Really good software might go off a public time server through the Internet, but I don't know of any software that does that). They could also obtain Ethernet cables and other hardware from other sources.

Ideas that come to mind:

1) Change the password required to log in, and don't save it in your dial-up networking profile. This gives you control over who connects to the Internet.

2) Control you kids, not your computer; tell them not to use the Internet when you say not to. You can monitor whether they are disobeying you with all sorts of software--NetNanny includes a secret logging feature, I know (not that smart kids couldn't get around NetNanny).
posted by profwhat at 8:14 AM on July 27, 2004


Smart kids might be smart enough to take an ethernet cable from school.

Another way might be to give them only regular user access, only you have the Administrator login. Create a new user for them (if you are using the basic wizard-y "user accounts" control panel widget, just make them a "limited" user).

Then pop into the control panel, Network, and click the network connection to "disabled". Then logout and let them log back in.
posted by malphigian at 8:16 AM on July 27, 2004


Use a router that has remote access control -- even my Linksys does (although I turned off the feature, since it is something of a security risk). This way you don't have to care about the system clock, or any other aspect of the PC.

If the kids act up, you can connect to your router via the web, and shut down access.
posted by aramaic at 8:27 AM on July 27, 2004


I'm a computer programmer who does a lot of system admin work as well. So it seems kind of silly to ask this question, but most of what I know to do involves external routers or firewalls. I could change permissions, but this isn't my computer, and I think the system as it is currently configured, has everyone as a local admin. Which means it's easy for the kids to install software (which I want), but also easy to unchange any settings I make on the machine to restrict internet access.

My best idea so far is to buy a router, and control internet access through the router. But this involves spending about $100, which I would really prefer not to do. And I think I lean towards this solution, because it's what I'm familiar with, not because it might be the best solution.
posted by patrickje at 8:33 AM on July 27, 2004


On preview, aramaic's suggestion is the direction I would lean, I know how to configure routers, and could do it remotely.
posted by patrickje at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2004


As other have said, your router is your friend here. If you get one that allows remote access to the admin interface (many wirelss consumer models do) you can just turn off access completely, or to just a certain computer, or for set times.

But it's not fool proof. A savy user can get around the router by just running an ethernet cable from the wall/modem to their computer. That hole could be closed by somehow locking up the access point. Having wireless or server cabinet would make that easier. If you can lock up both the modem and the wireless router your kids would have no ports to run cable from.

As security people will tell you, locking down networks where the attacker has physical access to the machines and the cables is almost impossible.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:57 AM on July 27, 2004


The router idea has great merit, because as well as fully shutting off internet access, you can block specific URLs or IP addresses, if your idea of light pusnishment is to deny them MeFi.
posted by o2b at 9:14 AM on July 27, 2004


You can get a Netgear WGR614 router for $40 at Amazon (and get .11g wireless in the bargain). I have one, and it has a function to block certain sites/services on a certain schedule (certain days/hours). There doesn't seem to be a 'block all access' option, but you can simply block entire TLDs (or, I suppose you could simply deliberately temporarily screw up the DNS settings or something so internet access fails completely).

The obvious vulnerability of this is, of course, that your kids could figure out simply to plug their computer directly into the modem, bypassing the router entirely.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:18 AM on July 27, 2004


Wireless router. Put all the networking equipment in a locked cabinet and turn off the router when they've bad.
posted by kindall at 9:35 AM on July 27, 2004


Really good software might go off a public time server through the Internet...

Which would be useless if you had no connection to the Internet.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:49 AM on July 27, 2004


My parents tried to take away my internet access as punishment, too.

I simply aquired my own external modem and used it when they weren't at home. (This was in the 2400 dialup days.)

If your kids are tech-savvy, find another punishment.
posted by callmejay at 10:15 AM on July 27, 2004


Wireless router. Put all the networking equipment in a locked cabinet and turn off the router when they've bad.

That sounded excellent until I realized that most neighborhoods have a couple of dimwits who don't secure their connections. That would work great in rural areas, though!
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2004


My parents tried to take away my internet access as punishment, too. I simply aquired my own external modem and used it when they weren't at home.

Being restricted to dial-up is approximately as bad as not having Internet access at all, so if they want to spend their own money to punish themselves with a modem, I say let 'em.

[Locking up the wireless equipment] sounded excellent until I realized that most neighborhoods have a couple of dimwits who don't secure their connections.

You'd be surprised. Being in the Seattle area, I had assumed there'd be at least one open wireless network nearby in my apartment complex, but there doesn't seem to be.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2004


Time lock on the phone jack to the DSL router.

The fact it's a lock really says "NO". The fact it's on with tamper resistant screws says "Screw off".
posted by shepd at 12:21 PM on July 27, 2004


I'm with callmejay. My brothers and I weren't even allowed to have phones in our rooms, and we got around that without our parents knowing it for years. You work in computers, you have smart kids who like computers, it's 2004. They are going to take circumventing your internet blocking as a challenge (I certainly would).
posted by bingo at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2004


Well, if the connection is DSL, the DSL modem is not that large, and I dont think you'd find too many of them just laying around the school. So you could just take the modem with you.
posted by Iax at 10:03 PM on July 27, 2004


McAfee Privacy Service is pretty hard to break.
posted by dhartung at 12:16 AM on July 29, 2004


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