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I have a WinXP PC that my children (4-14 years old) use but want to restrict some internet activity to prevent them from being exposed to some of the questionable and adult content that is available.

We have to PC in the living room so we can monitor them as much as possible but when unattended I want a second check.

What are my options and is there free software that works?

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9 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

You might want to consider using OpenDNS (http://opendns.com/), though it's strictly not based on content but on domain names.

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I use OpenDNS to filter at home and you can filter on both domain names or on categories of content. Here's a screenshot of the filtering set-up: omeganerd.com/pics/lc/opendns.png I'm pleased with how it works. –  Dave Webb Aug 18 '09 at 7:56
    
I've not heard of OpenDNS before but it certainly look worth a try –  Swinders Aug 18 '09 at 8:04
    
+1 for ease and performance, though it depends on people reporting "bad" sites (categorising sites) -- unless there's some category nowadays to only allow well-known "good" sites? –  Arjan Aug 18 '09 at 9:59
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Use Dansguardian, though I'm not sure how to set it up for a Windows PC

And we had questions like this before:

Here's Joe answer from there (kudos to Joe):

Software4Parents.com's Top 5 Internet Safety Tips

  1. Tell your child to NEVER EVER reveal their name, address, phone number or any other personal information to ANYONE online. Once you give out this information, it is impossible to retract.

  2. Communicate regularly (not just once) with your child about WHAT they do online and WHO they talk to online. If you have actually met the friends they are talking to in person, you'll know it is OK for them to chat with them online.

  3. Take computers out of children' rooms and put them into public areas such as the family room. Many parents think they are helping with homework by giving the children a computer, but it also opens certain dangers that you may be unaware of.

  4. Choose your child's screen name, email address or instant message name wisely - don't' reveal ages, sex, hobbies, and CERTAINLY NOT suggestive or sexy names. Predators are more likely to pursue a child with the screen name "sexyteen5" than "happygirl5"

  5. Use technology to help you protect your child. Monitoring software gives you the ability to review your child's Internet usage. Even if you don't look at each and every email or instant message they send, you'll have a good idea if they are making smart choices online.

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+1, would also suggest OpenDNS. –  nik Aug 18 '09 at 7:18
    
Dansguardian appears to be for filtering content using an intermediate machine. I could set this up but was looking for a Windows desktop solution. Will consider it though. –  Swinders Aug 18 '09 at 7:45
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@nik, OpenDNS looks like it's worth a try, no software to install, just change your DNS settings. –  Swinders Aug 18 '09 at 7:59
    
@Swinders, OpenDNS and following the points in this answer would be a good idea. It helps to work with your children about these things. Restrictions usually just invoke retaliation and a desire to break them. –  nik Aug 18 '09 at 8:12
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I generally recommend K9 Web Protection. It works, is fairly simple to administer and I've had no complaints from the users I've set up with it.

http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

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I like this solution, besides content filtering it lets you put time restrictions on internet usage. K9WebProtection does have some reporting allowing you to see what URLs have been requested but this always seems to hang my PC. Other than that its very user friendly and does the job it's designed for. –  Swinders Nov 5 '09 at 13:18
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Let me just add to the OpenDNS band wagon a little.

First a plug that I use it at home and work and love it.

If you are using a connection that includes a router, (especially wireless) it is well worth learning how to set the DNS servers at the router, that way all the laptops, ipods, wiis and such get the same filtering. http://www.opendns.com/support/category/2

Also if you don't have a static ip, take the time to research and install dynamic ip updating. For example our internet ip address changes each time the dsl wireless modem/ router restarts (power outage, etc.). When this happens since OpenDNS filters content to your ip address based on your personal preferences, it needs to know what the current address is. There is a very small easy to setup and use automatic updater to take care of this for you. http://www.opendns.com/support/article/81

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Windows parental controls would be a start if you have seven or vista. You could always buy a net nanny or norton 360 v3 (norton has a good parental control if you use vista). Use Mozilla firefox and adblock plus. Firefox has parental add ons.

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You can checkout this link: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Parental%5Fcontrols It talks about firefox plugins for content filtering(links to these plugins are also given) as well as Web filtering software's.

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Glubble (a modification of the firefox browser) would probably be worth looking at. It works on a whitelist system, which makes it very restrictive, and would therefore be more useful for the younger children.

You could also instate a system of observation, install VNC on their computer, allowing you to watch what they are doing. You may find that just telling them you can see what they are doing is a more effective deterrent than any filter.

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Norton Online Family provides control of content based on categories which can be set up by Windows login. Using different logins enables Younger children to view content appropriate for their age but allows teenagers more freedom. IM can be restricted to approved contacts and time restrictions can be set-up to prevent late night surfing.

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I have also used K9 for years now on multiple machines. I recommend it highly

http://www1.k9webprotection.com/

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