Earlier this month, we had a reader that had a few questions. While I don’t have time to address them both today, I will get to the one that I do have time for…

Stan writes:

How do I “turn off” the all Internet access for a user? I set up a “Homework” user account on a system here, just for my kids to get homework done. Usually they do not need to go on line to get their work done.

My daughter will be writing a paper or some such, and I’ll look over and she’ll be on a Harry Potter fan site that suddenly disappears behind her school assignment in Word. She actually has written fan fiction (here). As much as I love to see that she has some skill there, her homework shouldn’t suffer because she can’t leave it and her gmail account alone.

The boys have other diversions. Downloads, game cheats, mindless surfing, you name it.

“Homework” is set up with a pretty bleak desktop. I took the standard XP Games off the Start menu (put them in another admin account). I took Firefox and IE shortcuts out of there, as well as Windows Explorer. I also removed Run and lots of other stuff from the Start menu.

But this small stuff doesn’t stop them. It’s not hard to get My Computer or Windows Explorer back, and they can use either one as a browser. If they want to bother they can find Firefox. There are also a couple of ways to get Word to browse.

I have DSL, and a Linksys Cable/DSL router. If I unplug the cable they just put it back. If I take out the cable, they get another. There has to be a simple way I can restrict Internet access — and be able to turn it on (with a password) if they need it. I think there is even a way to tell the router to turn off access to one of it’s ports.

My thoughts:

Well it certainly sounds like you have your hands full, that’s for sure. And since I do not know how rule breaking is handled in your home, I am going to skip past the need for user logging options to catch them in the act and get right down to prevention. You mentioned that you are using a Linksys Cable/DSL router. Assuming you are familiar with the browser based administrator function explained in the manual, you could certainly block Internet access quite easily from there. If you are not familiar with this sort of interface, then this may seem a little daunting.

Another option might be Zone Alarm, the software firewall? I believe the Pro version gives you the ability to password protect your Internet access as well.

If none of these options meet with your needs, I suspect that a number of readers out there are warming up their keyboards to share their thoughts on the matter. And once those responses are in, I will be sure to share them here with you.

[tags]firefox,windows explorer,homework,harry potter,start menu[/tags]