How Fast Kids Grow Up These Days

Today I had a conversation with a friend of the family. I discovered that their son, about 12, is growing up much faster than any of us realized. It seems that he has grown interested in adult content found on the Internet. And to make matters worse, all attempts at monitoring and blocking this have not been met with much success.

All available computers in their household are in public regions, thus making it less attractive to attempt anything too covert. But like any determined kid on a mission, this young man has found that while the parents are at work, a fairly workable window of time is available to surf until his heart’s content.

Along with further explored parenting options of course, I was brought into the picture to help the family deal with this as all of the “should-haves” and “could-haves” in the world are not enough by themselves. Clearly, this issue can be reduced at least with the help of some serious Web-filtering assistance.

When used with a heavily involved parental hand, I shared that using OpenDNS can do wonders for keeping kids out of this sort of trouble at least when connected to the family network. But I also brought up the fact that kids are not stupid. Many of them have access to CD burners and share CDs loaded with who knows what being passed around at school.

This means, for you Windows users, blocking Group Policies that prevent the use of the CD-ROM or USB devices on the given machines. Surely there is an easier way? I mean, with Ubuntu, I go to the user’s settings and uncheck three boxes for that user account. Easy-peasy. They can no longer administer the account (Root or Sudo) and USB and CD-ROM is no longer an option, either.

Is there not a simpler way to do the same thing on an XP home box? Simply set up a limited user, then block the devices altogether?

Despite that one challenge above, I do have one ace up my sleeve. Disabling the option to boot from CD-ROM and using a BIOS password. That is in case kids opt to discover the wonderful world of bootable Linux distros… especially those that come with video codecs included.

Yes, I realize that locking up the keyboard, router, mouse, etc. is also an option. For a number of other affected members of the family though, it is not a realistic one. So please, that is not advice that is going to help. I’m just looking for a Windows-friendly method of blocking the CD-ROM/USB ports via password or, even better, from a specific limited user account.