Family Safety Online

I don’t even want to begin to pretend I know what “parenting” requires in the new millennium.  Not to show my age too much but, with only “2 sticks and a rock” to work from, Online Bullying meant someone had to learn tight rope skills first. Mean Tweets meant it was time for duck soup for supper.

THAT SAID it is a constant battle who technology wise gets the upper hand first and with “all day to do it and nothing better to do” that is mind blowing to keep in front of I know. Still there are tools (some work, some for a while, some just won’t)

One solution is simply (ok never that simple) to control your own “air space”. You can (attempt) to put one of these more police state Domain Name (lookup) Services on your wireless router

Norton Safe Surf
Comodo Secure DNS

…and I can expand that list, there are many with assumed parental filters preset. 

(BEFORE I CONTINUE: Keep in mind using a public DNS (such as using for the mirrored array of possibly faster Google based DNS lookups of current streaming device services) is going to likely “slow surfing down” where the services are looking up locations and making determinations slowing surfing down. ALSO both these and that come at a price. It is highly unlikely the lookups are not being logged and sold for regional or individual analytical tracking purposes. At minimum advertisers are going to know you have kids and based on choices, match shopping history to age of said kids. Tin foil hat aside I am just saying if more then 2 sticks and a rock is what you want, free ALWAYS has some sort of payback and cost.)

DNS is simply the phone book lookup of 800 names to real (Internet phone numbers) as in our crazy is technically so if you want to block me, you need a service that hangs up on those request (name AND number blocked). Same goes for (white-listing a very tiny list) of approved sites (school only for example)

NOW THE CATCH: If your kids are smart enough to know, THEY CAN simply over write your DNS selection by either hard coding their own DNS server ips into their device (and if I lost you then you know you are fighting the battle from behind) OR they can simply surf to an IP, a yet to be listed bad IP, some abscure VPN site to bypass all this or a bunch of stuff we have no space to get into

OR they can get a paper clip, reset your router and defeat all the time and effort you spent buying a parental control router and putting all the effort into settings to block them…

THAT one FIRST: I like to make your WISP installs simple, ONE intelligent device on the roof, one stupid universal (AP appliance) below. If your kids are not smart (yet) you might get a router with parental controls to work and although a router on a (our) router is not advisable from a pure technical point … it WILL work (until they read up on how to crack yours). OR YOU MAY want to instruct us to NOT do the router part (if they reset yours it too will just fall off the world and not bypass controls either)

The second option is to put your choice (alternate DNS service) for controls into our WISP roof device. THEN ALSO add firewall rules in our roof device so they can not surf around them.

Now that is pretty limiting but the way we are designed, & it beats having nothing but 2 sticks and a rock like my kids grew up on. Assuming your kid can crawl up the TV tower with a paper clip … it will just make them fall off the world if they attempt to reset us to defaults as well (we do have that one huge advantage over cable and DSL)

WORST CASE we can firewall our roof device to only surf the normal web (http port 80 and https port 443) so even attempts to email will fail. (Read on if you want email limited to only our server/a known kid account). Better yet we can hard wire your TV so the fast stream DNS won’t be accessible to the kids nor with the TV suffer speeds (more firewall rules) just because you had kids to worry about.  Not plug and play friendly but name a kid who is.

DON’T GET ME WRONG, “with power comes responsibilities” and if someone would research it I would bet kids behave considerably better online then most of us supposed “adults” tossed into this mid stream. If your kid is an absolute wizard at defeating your best efforts…then you probably will enjoy somewhere nearby in a warm climate when you retire (or you best bog him down with busy work learning the intricacies of this technology)

PLUS any phone with a sim card (or anyone with friends) just goes over to that house and out of your “gate with no fence” protected air zone of control anyway.

We are still idiots when it comes to eMail too and actually roll our own mail (not just point it off to the mega corp to read for analytical statistics nor hang up the phone telling you to go read some mega spyware cloud site for settings). Email is probably simpler…

ALL our email offerings at least offer white-list (you choose who your child is old enough to communicate with) and black-list (as useless a whack a mole solution as it sound to be) so assuming you can control the air space to home, they still can learn important communication skills via passing email between known contacts. Even a tablet with no known password to the app store (as tiring as it is entering my iTunes account all the time) can be learning steps to sharing art and communicating online within an extremely jailed community of trusted senders.

Of course I don’t particularly enjoy entering my password every time I add say a FREE (about the only part) farming RTK app to my $600 iPhone to make my $900 subscription attempting to communicate with my $650 blue tooth dongle connected to my $6000 device with $2000 Russian satellite and $2000 RTK unlocks to help me from planting crooked rows (so I can continue to use my 12 row planter when harvesting with an 8 row combine) … well we can’t begin to imagine what these skills today will mean to your kids considering none of this existed when our kids were this age (or just 2 TV channels available when we were kids…if the TV even worked)

I know “walked up hill both ways to get to school”.  But un-monitored play in the street IMHO is a bit harsh when a couple of these solutions might ease kids into the power that comes before they fall off any virtual tight ropes as they grow.

Hope that helps,