Ever wish you had a system that allowed you to easily keep track of what your kids are doing on the internet? Perhaps you would like a system that makes it difficult for a child that is grounded to be able to access certain sites on the internet? Here's something we have been using for a little while that is very helpful. I thought I would pass the info along to you. This is FREE!
1. Go to www.fss.live.com.
2. Once there, set up an account. (If you already have a .msn or .live email address, you probably already have an account.)
3. Add each child. On each of the computers in your home, you need to set up each of the kids as a user (unless of course you have a computer they are denied use of, then simply do not set them up as a user on that computer). When they want to use the computer, they must log in using their own password. This allows fss to track their usage.
No one will want to log in as someone else, because you have set things up specifically for each child. For instance, in my household, web filtering is higher for Princess than the older kids. So, if Sticky or Bub decided to outsmart the system by logging on as Princess because they won't be able to get to where they want to go! Even still, we have cautioned the kids about sharing their passwords with their siblings because they wouldn't want to risk someone else racking up computer time using their name.
4. When a user is done on the computer, they can do one of two things. They can "log out" or "switch user". If they choose the "switch user" option, they do not need to shut down all their browsers, documents, etc. If they choose "log out" everything must be closed. When someone is planning to get back on the computer, switching user is a good way to go. The only downside of using the "switch user" option is that it leaves a bunch of programs running in the background and this can slow down your computer. (Side note: If your computer is not showing both options, go to "help" on your computer and type in those terms and it will show you step-by-step how to make them show up.)
5. Choose the level of filtering you would like. This can vary from blocking only "adult" content sites to customized filtering to allowing only child friendly sites.
6. Turn the activity reporting on. This allows you to see where your child has been and how long they have spent at the computer. It can also tell you if anything has been downloaded to that computer.
7. ou can use the contact management aspect of the program to control who your child is chatting and emailing with through a few places.
8. If a child wants to view a website that you have prohibited, they can send you a request, or if you are nearby, you can simply type in your password right then to allow access if desired.
9. When you find that your child has been spending too much time on a certain site, or is otherwise in trouble, you can go in and block specific sites that they are grounded from. Or, you can block everything and have them ask for your permission every time they want to access something on the internet until you feel they are ready for computer privileges again. (This definitely gets to be a drag after a while.)
10. The key to this program is to regularly check up on internet usage. If you simply sign up for the program and never or rarely check up on the kids, you aren't taking full advantage of the system. You can use it as just a tool to block specific sites, or you can use it more effectively by seeing where your kids are spending their time. If you do this, you can take the time to talk to them about questionable sites, give them input on how to stay safe on a certain site, possibly find a fun site that you would like to join with them, and you can also share information from you to your child and from your child to you. It is really incredible the things children are able to figure out about the computer that most of us parent's would never have thought of.
While it may seem like quite a bit of work to get this system up and operational, it is worth the effort. As with the examples mentioned above, it opens communication lines to help us protect our children until they are mature enough to understand things and to know how to discipline themselves. It is a good tool to help teach these things.
Has anyone else used this system? What tips & tricks do you have to share?