The Internet is a great resource, it's changed the way we live, work and connect with friends and family, but equally it's full of content that we shouldn't expose our kids or young ones too. There's a lot of misinformation, explicit adult video content and other malicious content out there. Further restricting our kids access to the Internet when they should be sleeping is a big concern for most of us. Yes you can remove their phones, but what about the tablet hidden under the bed?
Kapiti.IT regularly gets asked about parental controls and home network monitoring or restrictions. Most free ISP routers offer some basic parental controls and we can help you set this up. This may involve blocking specific websites, or setting access times, however we find that most low end routers simply don't offer the functionality and level of restrictions you'll need.
Enterprise level, or advanced home user brands such as Ubiquiti and Google Wifi, offer scheduling functionality which allows you to block the Internet at specific times. Further they'll allow you to see what websites are being accessed, and block these. Hate TikTok? One click and it will be blocked on your network.
And the best part is, it won't affect your own browsing or Internet usage either thanks to VLAN tagging and firewall rules. This can be a service we integrate when implementing a smart home.
Get in touch today for a discussion on parental controls, monitoring, scheduling or anything else. We'll see what can be done with your existing equipment first, as well as show you some other options depending on the level you need.
Below are some common parental control tasks we do for our clients to give you an idea on what we can do/help you with too.
What is the estimated cost for parental control setup?
Every user has different routers. If you're using the free one from Vodafone or Spark, it will be very limiting in what you can actually do. This routers are often free for a reason and will require an upgrade to something more enterprise to allow for further parental monitoring.
Some IT companies can put in a little computer called a PiHole which is then used for DNS management and routing specific devices to specific places allowing for blocking websites. We prefer implementing something easier for the homeowner to control themselves so will only do this at a router level, so we would recommend buying a router that offers specific functionality.
We can discuss this with you but brands such as Ubiquiti, Google and Amazon offer advanced parental control monitoring, restrictions. Then if you have any issues, you will be able to add/remove the parental features on demand, rather than having to get us back each time like the cheaper PiHole options.
A rough price for a router with parental control functionality would be $250 - $750 depending on needs. We recommend factoring in any home network upgrades, wireless issues you're experiencing as to which brand you choose, as you could future proof during this upgrade. - Please talk to us.
Kids should just learn to experiment on the Internet, why bother?
Fair comment and that is something we do hear from time to time. I personally wasn't restricted by my parents when using the Internet when I was 10. However back then the Internet was still in it's infancy and there weren't all these technologies such as Youtube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Discord. We also didn't have tablets, smartphones and smart watches which access the Internet in seconds that can be used discreetly or at times kids should be sleeping!
Further searching for content or questionable content was much more difficult. There is now a wealth of fake or misinformation information online, access to harmful and distressing content is much more easy and the risk of exposure to things kids shouldn't see is much higher due to live streaming.
Parental controls and monitoring is entirely up to parents and is available in many different forms. It's not about just blocking access to certain websites, spying on them or controlling what they are doing. It can be used for scheduling usage or access times too.
My kids are smart and will bypass these controls in a few hours?
Yes there is a risk here that your kids will work out how to bypass your parental controls. It's all part of growing up, and we do see this as a good thing that shouldn't be frowned upon. They are learning about computers, networking, firewalls, coding and many other things which could lead to a career in IT (like us).
However if you go down the enterprise level approach it would be very difficult for a child to bypass your restrictions. We use the same network controls that they use in workplaces, schools etc. The obvious one we can't control is when your son or daughter has an iPad with a sim card slot, and they've bought their own sim card, but for wireless only devices, in your own home, there is little chance they'll bypass them.
When it comes to monitoring their usage or website traffic, if you confront them directly of course they'll know you are honing in on their usage, however if you just monitor it indirectly, there would be no way to tell.
How best do you recommend using the parental controls?
Most clients use the scheduling function to block Internet access from say 11pm until 7am.
Other clients monitor the usage charts and if they notice a spike in traffic to a known problem site or cause for concern, for example harmful games or malicious content, they can take action and block the website. This often causes the child to confront the network owner and this can then start a conversation about the dangers of this website and why they shouldn't be using it. Rather than approaching the child directly and asking why they are using the website as it would nearly always result in denial.
The website could be then unblocked, or left as is. Some children will quickly realise they've been caught accessing content they shouldn't, and will hopefully learn to use the Internet in a different manner.
Couldn't I just use Apples Screen time?
Apple Screen time is slightly different in that it only allows people to monitor and limit how much time they spend on their iPhones and iPads. You can use parental controls to restrict or lock out your kid at certain times which does work well when used correctly. Of course if they have worked out the admin passcode, they can remove access as and when they please.
Screen time doesn't actually block, monitor or control access to specific websites. There are other apps out there that offer parental controls on your home network that sit on your computer. Exercise caution downloading and running these as they often contain malware or spyware.
Is it legal to monitor internet usage in NZ?
There are no set guidelines on monitoring Internet usage at home in a private residence. There are however rules when it comes to the workplace, including a home based business where you may have employees working at your home. Likewise a school is entitled to monitor a students wireless usage. There needs to be a policy in place which those subject to it, have signed or atleast sighted.
There are no cause for concerns for what you do in your own home.
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