Best way to monitor a Teenagers Personal Computer use?

My sister is having some difficulties with her 14 year old son. She’s worried he is visiting sites that maybe should not be seen by a 14 year old. Personally, I think the kids fine…maybe looking at some porn, etc…etc…I think she is more concerned he’ll stumble upon a beastiality site or someother trashy thing out there.
How do net-nanny and things like that work? Are there easy ways for a 14 year old to get around it? [they do not need to be spelled out here for obvious reasons…just a yes or no is good]
Should she maybe track where he goes?

It’s a tough question because he is my nephew and my sister seems a little overly concerned. To be honest, thats the only reason I’m asking the dopers, because it was the tone in her voice that made me think she was quite serious.

Doper parents what do you do? Do you let them chat anywhere they want? Do you know whose on your son or daughter’s IM lists?

I personally am big on prevention.

IANA parent, but I’ve got a pretty good amount of experience working with teens and parents.

Prevention is key. Computer should be in a public area, that lowers the amount of “private time” the kid gets online in the first place, and that takes care of the bulk of the problem.

Does your sister know how to check the history and temp files? She should do that, and tell the kid she’ll be doing it periodically. If I know kids the way I think I do, he’s probably figured out a way around net nanny or whatever.

I’d advocate knowing IM lists and stuff, poking one’s head in periodically, etc.

The parent should: Establish and reserve the right to snoop, then as she feels she can trust the kid, give him longer leash.

I told her to put the computer in the den or family room, but I guess my BIL’s computer is in the Den. My newphew’s computer is in his room. BAD IDEA if you want to have access to it - I know. Apparently,he usually has his door wide open, which is nice. But sometimes, he goes up there right after dinner and they don’t see him again. He never did this pre-computer.

I don’t have kids or anything, but the idea that I have heard often is to keep the computer in a common room of the house.

Much harder to get away with simultaniously downloading bestiality porn and The Anachist Cookbook if you are in the same room where your parents are watching TV or preparing dinner.

Heh. Sorry to be repetetive, but the other two posts weren’t there when I hit submit. Damn hampsters.

Tell your sister that you can put more than one pc in a room :slight_smile: Our den has 3 computers; his mine and the kids. I can see what the munchkin is up to by turning around. Of course right now she’s playing Dora and not hooked up to the web but that computer will be in the room with ours until she goes off to college.

There’s no software in the world that can compensate for some good old fashioned parental involvement and supervision. Talk to him about whats there - even the ugly stuff - and keep the communication open so that when he does find something he’s uncomfortable with he at least feels he can come to his folks and get some advice/guidance.

The kid has already looked up anything he wanted to look up on the first evening he got the internet. He has most likely surfed both regular and “speciality” porn. Telling him you will be watching most likely won’t stop him, it is free porn :slight_smile:

I specifically told my brother (who has zero reason not to believe me), that the new puter being installed was mams, and that he was to show a bit of respect and keep it clean, and that I would be checking. The cache was full of porn by the next day. I am sure my life is richer for knowing that my brothers first search on google at home was “girls with big tits”.

He would probably have rather been beaten than have myself and my mother sit him down and talk to him about how it is fully understandable that he wants to look at nekkid chicks, and that if he wants we can pick him up a copy of playboy or something, but that he needs to understand the difference between porn and reality, and also be aware that not everyone he sees in internet porn is doing it because they want to etc.

Seems he has now reached some sort of agreement with my mother that he will only look at anime porn on the home computer :rolleyes:, as my mother says “That’s all right isn’t it?”. Shes just thrilled he is turning out straight :stuck_out_tongue:

FWIW, my computer was never monitered when I was a teenager, I can’t think of anyone I know whos was. A kid isn’t going to look up beastiality if he’s not already interested in it, and if he does stumble upon some, he’s most likely to turn away disgusted, not go around looking for the closest sheep.

Information is simply information. It can’t transform a nice boy into a slobbering perv. If I were your sister, I’d sit down and have a good talk about the values and cations of pornography, issue several stern warnings never to meet someone off the Internet without consulting with her, and trust that she brought the kid up well enough not to make a bomb with the first bomb recipe he sees. If he starts acting drastically wierd, then I’d think about checking out what is going on. But No amount of monitering beats having a kid with a good head on his shoulders.

If your sister suspects it is easy to show her how to check the History or Temporary Internet files. You can even make shortcuts to the files. If her suspicions are confirmed at that point then a nice talk with the boy would be warranted. The parental advice given above has been very good.
Of course then there is always Snitch

Again…I don’t think there is a big deal with the kid looking at a little porn…as long as it’s not extremely vulgar. I think they are moving his machine into the Den. I know this will upset him…I hope not too much…

Oh, that’s a good mis-read: IANA pervert. :slight_smile:


Check the cache, grab an suitable pic, photoshop it to read “Real women don’t look/act like this!” and make it the wallpaper. :smiley:

I’m in a simular boat myself. At the request for a client, I’m looking for a software utility that will time (not record) the internet usage for their teenage daughter. After a certain period of time it should disconnect the internet capabilities of that computer while leaving it active for homework, etc.

There are plenty of packages that do this, but they are designed for modems and not broadband.

The problem with that cache and history checking thing is it takes aout 2 minutes search on, for example, the Tech TV site to learn exactly how most parents will moniter comp use and how to circumvent it. Emptying the cache and history and then refilling with innocuous sites is trivially easy. Short of a key logger program you aren’t going to moniter them if they don’t want you to unless you’re in the same room. If he doesn’t know how to do it, I quarantee he has friends that can tell him exactly how. I think the best thing to do is have a talk about the fact that porn sites are not ‘real life’ and that predators often wear sheeps clothing.

He’s probably got Window Washer anyway, which completely clears the computer to the extent that electron microscopy computer forensics can’t find where he’s been.

There’s no “best way” IMO. Temp files are easily cleared if he knows anything about computers. Hell, he could google “how to keep my parents from checking if I’ve seen porn” and probably get a few good hits (and info).

There is no technological subsitute for being a good parent. Kids are gonna look at some porn and download the terrorist’s handbook (I did, I still have a nice hardcopy) but nothing ever comes of it. It might be better if you spoke to the kid, make sure he understands what porn is for (entertainment, nothing else).

I know my kid isn’t going to be sheltered. If he (or she) wants to view porn, that’s cool with me. All I need is a 1 hour talk to them about porn (and online chatting, IMHO a much more dangerous online activity) and they’re free to watch whatever they want.

Age 14 is a wee bit late in imposing some type of home web use rules. Has your nephew already surfed to web sites your sister finds objectionable? Or does she just think he has? Is she aware how much kids share things among themselves long before the parents find out, if they ever do? Didn’t you and your sister do things you didn’t want your parents to find out about? What makes this any different with your nephew?

Something about closing the barn door after the horse has bolted rings true …

The software tools such as net nanny do not work. There are workarounds out there that kids share to disable these programs. More importantly, the censorship process of these types of programs is often not available to the buyer. You have little to no control over how these programs work and which types of web sites are blocked. has an excellent FAQ illustrating what really happens with blocking software.

Also, using blocking software creates more problems than they solve. A parent who uses such software is telling their kids they do not trust them from the onset. Then there’s that forbidden fruit factor. We were all at that age once when our elders told us no; that was all we needed to know that somehow we just had to find out more. Why parents today think their kids will be any different than they were is beyond me.

Other posters submitted suggestions in keeping the computer in a public common area of the home. That’s a good idea. But it still smacks of censorship. Kids do deserve a level of privacy.

Yeah, but part of him getting a good head on his shoulders involves Mom involving herself in his life, mentoring, guiding, and asserting her morality.

It’s not so much that she’s going to keep him from getting porn. He’s going to find it no matter what. It’s more about her standing firm in her beliefs. If she doesn’t want porn on the computer, or whatever, it’s up to her to see to it that it doesn’t get there. The kid then learns that Mom is responsible and stands by what she believes in. He learns to feel safe with her and respect her.

Duckster - I know he’s going to get into it thats not the problem. See my sister is the first to have kids in our nuclear family - my wife and I are waiting - and my other sister just doesn’t want kids. So these three newphew 13, neice 8, neice 4 are all we’ve had to dote on.
We were all hellians when we were little, we know what they can do. However, when we were little there was no cuhc thing as internet porn, or anything of the sort. We grew up playing Atari and playing outdoor sports…
Does my sister care if he looksa at porn? Probably not, and she has sat down with him and chatted about the bad things life has to offer. I guess she is realizing from other mothers around her neighborhood that sexual predation does occur, and she want’s to make extra sure he is not exposed, or if he is he knows what to do.
Oh and I should say he’s had his own machine for about a year.

Does your sister have a way of making sure that your nephew doesn’t have internet access in his room? It strikes me that the best way to both let him have some privacy and to make sure eh’s not surfing places where she doesn’t want him to go is to let him have a machine in his room, but no internet access. Make the machine in the den be the internet machine.

He’s already seen it, then. Hell, the first thing I did when I got hooked up (15/16) was go looking for porn.

If he’s like most normal teenagers around now, he’s probably spending his time chatting on the various Instant Messengers with his friends and such.