Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Latest Attempts to Help Kids Avoid Overuse of the Computer (Part 1)

So much is happening here I didn't realize I never shared this story.

In an effort to try to help my children focus on their schoolwork during the homeschool lesson time, we decided to start using a parental blocking software. We had tried others in the past that hogged up and slowed down our family's network, thus punishing every user 24/7. So we basically have lived without parental controls all this time. We had not had a problem with abusing the privileges so we didn't feel the software was required. We chalked this up to good parenting and setting reasonable limits and having a healthy level of trust with our kids.

Heh, heh, heh.

The joke was on us.

Apparently with most kids the teenage years bring about changes and new behaviors and challenges that had not presented themselves earlier.

Even with my kids in the same exact room I could not keep them each off of various temptation websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and gaming tips chat boards. They were also sneaking online games and PC based games.

A second challenge was that our fifteen year old started staying up almost all night long using his computer or being on the Internet. First we took the laptop out of his bedroom and then he was sneaking online anyway. I started to confiscate the laptop and hide it in my bedroom.

I also had to put a screen saver password on my own PC because the twelve year old was using it in the family office space which is close to his bedroom.

We also shut off the Internet access to the kid's Kindle Fires by shutting off all web access at the router.

My older son started to hack the systems and first figured out how to change the router's settings.


We gave up and I called a computer professional three weeks ago. We set a Saturday appointment so my husband could be here. I was told he would use a software that was virtually un-hackable.

I was really excited about the program, called Kid Safe.

I paid $225 for three plus hour of labor for the computer tech to install and put in the settings we asked for. He also set up new Windows passwords and screen savers. He made sure that our kids did not have admin level access to their own laptops.

Using KidsWatch, which works on computers, we were able to have the Internet shut off at certain times of the day such as at bedtime. We could block any website by name. There are many options for limiting and blocking and it is easy to navigate.

Since we need to access sites such as YouTube for academic reasons we could not block YouTube. It can be tricky to try to limit and block the Internet.

I felt as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I would no longer have to police and worry about what the kids were doing, even if they were in the same room as me, I didn't need to wonder what all that clicking was about.

I had one perfect day of what I thought was compliance. Some things happened that were a bit suspicious but I told myself that perhaps I was being nutty and untrusting. That afternoon a friend told me I looked happy and fantastic, less stressed.

The rest of the story will be told in Part 2.

P.S. When our kids were younger I worried about pedophiles finding my kids. At present the main concern is that the computer and Internet is too much of a distractor from the schoolwork. If they would only do their work during the day they would have complete freedom at night (after sports practice). I honestly don't think what my husband and I expect is unreasonable.


Deb said...

Christine, you're great at telling a story! What a cliffhanger! I'm really looking forward to Part 2.

jpreece said...

I remember having said almost the same thing to our girls. If you did your work to the best of your ability and still could do whatever on the internet and cell phones.