Parental Control/Monitoring Solutions?

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mattlach

Active Member
Aug 1, 2014
320
89
28
Hey all,

I figured I'd check in here and see what like minded parents on here do about monitoring.

We started to introduce my (now 9 year old) stepson to using the internet a few years back non a Linux desktop, and first monitoring him very closely, but over time the comfort level grew. It looked like he was behaving and required less and less oversight. I guess we got too comfortable, as we recently discovered him doing and accesshting things way outside of the appropriateness of his age.

Judging by how busy life is, it is evident neither of us have the time to sit with him whenever he is online, and we don't want to remove internet access, as it is important to learning and becoming tech aware. The conclusion? We need some technological help.

I have been researching commercial parental monitoring solutions, but have not been very happy with what I have found thus far. They all either have some sort of cloud integration, which concerns me from a security perspective, or have rather exorbitant subscription fees, way outside the realm of what is seemingly reasonable for a service like this.

What can you people on here recommend?

My requirements/wants:
  • Monitoring/filtering capability
  • 100% local solution (by local, I mean local network, no cloud integration or external web service)
  • Reasonable cost
  • Windows 10 capability (Linux a plus)

Any thoughts?

Much appreciated!
 

Tom5051

Active Member
Jan 18, 2017
359
79
28
46
What a great opportunity to spend time with your stepson, teaching him the do's and don'ts of the internet. Oh wait, you want software to spend time with him and wonder why he is accessing adult stuff on an adult network hmmmm.
I'm starting to see a pattern here...
 

mattlach

Active Member
Aug 1, 2014
320
89
28
What a great opportunity to spend time with your stepson, teaching him the do's and don'ts of the internet. Oh wait, you want software to spend time with him and wonder why he is accessing adult stuff on an adult network hmmmm.
I'm starting to see a pattern here...
Lets reserve the value judgments please. We do spend time with my stepson, but we cannot be there all the time. Children have more free time than adults do, and there are dinners to be cooked, dishes to be done, etc. etc.

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you play Nintendo games? Were your parents able to be with you every single second when you did? Now consider that most of these games are online in one way or another today. It is impossible for a parent to always be there. The software is to help, not to replace the parent.
 

Monoman

Active Member
Oct 16, 2013
405
159
43
Lets reserve the value judgments please. We do spend time with my stepson, but we cannot be there all the time. Children have more free time than adults do, and there are dinners to be cooked, dishes to be done, etc. etc.

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you play Nintendo games? Were your parents able to be with you every single second when you did? Now consider that most of these games are online in one way or another today. It is impossible for a parent to always be there. The software is to help, not to replace the parent.
@mattlach Don't worry about Tom's post. It's not helping to your initial request in the slightest. You're able to "guide" your stepson but inadvertent shit shows up and you just want the ability to block that, not provide a hands off "mindless" approach. He's out of line imho.

So Bluecoat provides what's called K9, it's free uses the same filter engine as their professional stuff and works well. This is per client only and not a network solution. works perfectly. It's available for a lot of platforms.
K9 Web Protection

My kids are a little older (14 and 16) and we've graduated from k9 to more of a DNS solution. I use pi-hole locally and opendns filtering/monitoring. It's not perfect but with a home lab, you can force all external dns to your pi-hole and it logs and filters everything.
Pi-hole™: A black hole for Internet advertisements
Cloud Delivered Enterprise Security by OpenDNS

pi-hole is free as is opendns but they do have a paid version ($20/year) for more granular reporting. I have stopped using the opendns reporting for the pi-hole as it works much better and is local. You'll need to play with the blocklists some. It can and will lock your internet down VERY well. I spent a lot of time white-listing sites...

I can gladly provide more info if needed.
 

UnlistedUser

Guest
Jun 9, 2017
6
0
1
54
LA - USA
Hey all,

I figured I'd check in here and see what like minded parents on here do about monitoring.

We started to introduce my (now 9 year old) stepson to using the internet a few years back non a Linux desktop, and first monitoring him very closely, but over time the comfort level grew. It looked like he was behaving and required less and less oversight. I guess we got too comfortable, as we recently discovered him doing and accesshting things way outside of the appropriateness of his age.

Judging by how busy life is, it is evident neither of us have the time to sit with him whenever he is online, and we don't want to remove internet access, as it is important to learning and becoming tech aware. The conclusion? We need some technological help.

I have been researching commercial parental monitoring solutions, but have not been very happy with what I have found thus far. They all either have some sort of cloud integration, which concerns me from a security perspective, or have rather exorbitant subscription fees, way outside the realm of what is seemingly reasonable for a service like this.

What can you people on here recommend?

My requirements/wants:
  • Monitoring/filtering capability
  • 100% local solution (by local, I mean local network, no cloud integration or external web service)
  • Reasonable cost
  • Windows 10 capability (Linux a plus)

Any thoughts?

Much appreciated!
Awesome. Lots of choices for you here. Dude, apologies for the slam in the first response. Don't know any of you personally, so I will refrain from judgement.

It is absolutely wise to put measures in place like you mention. Kids, nay all of us, need boundaries to catch those moments of curiosity that leads them down paths that expose them to material that can be detrimental to their healthy development.

I have used pfsense, untangle, openDNS as well. I keep a filter in place, but also limit screen time. As well, access for my kids is only in the family room and we make it a point to observe what they are doing - no internet access in their rooms. Internet is promoted as a tool to use and not a cure for boredom. Finally, I simply turn off the internet at 9pm. Oh... and when they access inappropriate material we talk about!
 

pgh5278

Active Member
Oct 25, 2012
479
130
43
Australia
Hey all,

I figured I'd check in here and see what like minded parents on here do about monitoring.

We started to introduce my (now 9 year old) stepson to using the internet a few years back non a Linux desktop, and first monitoring him very closely, but over time the comfort level grew. It looked like he was behaving and required less and less oversight. I guess we got too comfortable, as we recently discovered him doing and accesshting things way outside of the appropriateness of his age.

Judging by how busy life is, it is evident neither of us have the time to sit with him whenever he is online, and we don't want to remove internet access, as it is important to learning and becoming tech aware. The conclusion? We need some technological help.

I have been researching commercial parental monitoring solutions, but have not been very happy with what I have found thus far. They all either have some sort of cloud integration, which concerns me from a security perspective, or have rather exorbitant subscription fees, way outside the realm of what is seemingly reasonable for a service like this.

What can you people on here recommend?

My requirements/wants:
  • Monitoring/filtering capability
  • 100% local solution (by local, I mean local network, no cloud integration or external web service)
  • Reasonable cost
  • Windows 10 capability (Linux a plus)

Any thoughts?

Much appreciated!
Purchased a fortinet firewall, has been fabulous, easy to setup and manage. Two children 4 years age difference, so different requirements. Going strong after 5+ years. Can control everything you mention. Multiple times for access each day, easy, applications Like games can control times for play.. Used the 40c model, but the newer 30C will be better, cheaper, less power etc..in fact looking at getting the 30C myself.
The eldest is at Uni now and appreciates the "helpful control" and has no issues having a firewall..Plus it is easy to modify if he needs another 1 hr or two on the weekend etc..
 

rubylaser

Active Member
Jan 4, 2013
846
236
43
Michigan, USA
I have tried a bunch of different filtering solutions, but the easiest way I have found is to use the Circle by Disney. If you can get over the idea that it's performing a man-in-the-middle attack by using ARP poisoning, it works VERY well. It individually identifies users and devices and you can tie them to users. It comes with pre-built filtering levels for various age groups, and reporting. It also provides you a way to custom whitelist/blacklist certain sites as well. It allows you to set bedtimes, daily usage intervals, provide rewards, etc. It stays up-to-date and doesn't cost me anything other than the initial investment. You are doing well by training your stepson, but I definitely agree with providing a proactive filtering solution on top of good parental training.
 
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snakyjake

Member
Jan 22, 2014
75
1
8
I explored Disney Circle, and what I found valuable is the time/screen allowance.
I want to limit/reward screen time. Not by time of day, but by duration.
I want to block categories of sites (and not have to hover), similar to OpenDNS.
I want to allow appropriate education sites, regardless of time.
Screen time isn't just for kids.

I'd rather not have to pay for an expensive subscription, it's not worth it.
I would like to find an easy DIY solution that does the same thing.
Thus far haven't found one.
 

Evan

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2016
3,346
598
113
Since it’s Apple devices as my target using the Apple screen time functions combined with the firewall filter seems to work ok.
Difficult area to find a good solution for the kids.
 

ecosse

Active Member
Jul 2, 2013
460
111
43
Probably overkill but Sophos UTM has a good web filtering engine - its free for home use.
 

UhClem

just another Bozo on the bus
Jun 26, 2012
432
245
43
NH, USA
... There's advice there on protecting children's psyches from top child psychologists. ...
While I do appreciate skepticism[/sarcasm?], you probably meant to write:
There's advice there, from top child psychologists, on protecting children's psyches.
?? :) :)
(Obligatory) Software Stuff: The shortcomings of LR parsing on English ...
 

jaffakke

New Member
Jul 28, 2022
1
0
1
I watched a NetworkChuck video the other day and he was talking about Circle. Works across many different devices and ARP spoofs the router address to filter based on the rules set. It may do what you want.
 

louie1961

Active Member
May 15, 2023
111
41
28
My kids are all in college now, but what we used to do was to use OpenDNS. I would point my local router to the OpenDNS DNS servers, and lock it down. Inside of OpenDNS, you can select all sorts of filters and restrictions. We also had a rule that no electronics were allowed in the bedroom/in private. And my kids had flip phones until they were 12. I strongly believe that younger children have no need for a smart phone. We also limited their screen time. I wouldn't turn on their internet until homework was done, and when they had an 8pm bed time, the internet would turn off for them at 7pm. That all got a little harder when they hit high school and they had to submit their homework on line either by email or into the school's LMS. During the summers and on weekends, they had to "earn" their screen time. For every minute of outdoor, physical activity (sports, hikes, yard work, exercising the dogs, etc.) they would earn 3 minutes of screen time. I would not allow my kids to sit in front of a screen 24*7, there had to be a balance.