Keep­ing (my) kids safe online

I’ve spent far too many hours trying to setup my daughters laptop with Windows Live Family Safety. I thought I’d got everything running correctly but evidently not, it just wouldn’t work. I wanted to restrict access to certain sites and certain types of sites but even though the various parts of WLFS were in place (the laptop was registered on the WLFS site and we had a user set up on MSN too) it refused to link them all together and provide the security I wanted.

After much searching I came across Norton Online Family.

To use NOF I had to download a small app and install it on the (Windows 7 Starter) laptop, log in to the NOF website, register the app and my daughters profile and hey presto – job done.

They have a range of options, you can restrict access to specific sites or restrict access to certain types of sites. The groups of sites you can allow/disallow are extensive. It also block parts of pages, so if you don’t want your child to see certain types of advertising it’ll block that from an otherwise acceptable page.

As it’s all managed from a web site you can monitor your child’s access from anywhere you like, the logs show sites they’ve visited and sites they’ve been blocked from accessing.

When they are blocked from accessing a site the page they see explains why they can’t see the website they’re trying to visit (adult content, advertising, social media etc) and gives them the option to request access. By requesting access you as the parent are notified that they would like to get onto that site. If you’re ok with your child viewing the page they’re currently blocked for, you click a link in the mail and the software will set a rule up to allow access to that specific site.

You also get a mail when they visit a site that’s blocked for them, it tells you what the site was, why it was blocked and the time of day they tried to access it.

The basic package is free. There is also a paid for option with a few more features, but for what I need free is fine. Oh, and the paid for service is only available in the US – so even if I did want it I can’t have it!

The app you install on your computer which enables NOF is available in Windows XP, Vista and 7 along with Mac OSX 10.5 and 10.6

Update: Have now installed the same software onto our Mac (10.6.6) and all works just as well as the software on the Windows laptop (but then it would wouldn’t it?). I haven’t tried it yet, but it also looks like you can restrict the hours the computer(s) are in use for too.

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