How do I con­trol what my kids see on­line?

Australian T3 - - GADGET GURU -

AGaGu’s pol­icy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell your Mum’ doesn’t work for ev­ery­one – well, it works for the pro­gres­sively more twisted mind of young GaGu Jr, but it might not suit you. Luck­ily there are plenty of things that can be done, at least to a cer­tain ex­tent. You could go all heavy-handed and force their com­puter into lock­down mode, giv­ing them a re­stricted user ac­count. This is rea­son­ably straight­for­ward on both macOS and Win­dows, but it’s also an almighty pain in the rear end if you’re the one who has to ad­min­is­ter the thing.

While you’re putting your off­spring in cy­ber-jail, why not go one fur­ther and in­stall dra­conic web fil­ter­ing soft­ware on each ma­chine? These add a lit­tle sys­tem over­head, slightly knock­ing per­for­mance, so you could in­stead add a fil­ter ma­chine be­tween your router and the rest of the net­work: this is ei­ther pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive, ab­surdly com­plex, or both, so Guru prob­a­bly wouldn’t bother.

Luck­ily, the march of fun­spoil­ing tech­nol­ogy has reached the ever more pow­er­ful do­main of routers and mesh net­works. In­stalling some­thing like Asus’ cute holedrilled-through-it Blue Cave router ($369) gives you ac­cess to an app in which you can ad­min­is­ter the router’s own web fil­ter, and adds the abil­ity to put time lim­its and even speed re­stric­tions on your kids. Lit­tle Jimmy down­load­ing a few too many of them memes? Show him what it was like to use dial-up back in the day.

Fun­da­men­tally, though, kids are clever. There’s no real way to stop them – they’ll find loop­holes, they’ll shoul­der-surf your pass­word, they’ll go to Feral Cousin Hu­bert’s house. They’ll get in. Don’t let that stop you from im­ple­ment­ing se­cu­rity mea­sures, but make sure that talk­ing to your kids about the in­ter­net cesspool is a so­lu­tion.

ABOVE Re­mem­ber when it was just TV ads warp­ing kids’ minds? Ah, the good ol’ days…

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