Kids software filtering

Gonna put this under Tech Questions…

So with the COVID-19 taking the kids out of school for an extended period (maybe all the way through summer…who knows) I need to get both of them set up with laptops for virtual learning.

Fortunately, I have two Alienware laptops that will be perfect - so I’m currently cleaning them off of excess software and want to configure them for them for school only. They already have Switches and Kindles, so they don’t need another gaming platform in the slightest. I’d like them to just sit at their desks and think schoolwork when on laptops.

My assumption is they will have some group classrooms - we are awaiting how that is going to work. Google groups, maybe some virtual classroom technology…who knows. But I do want to lock down their computers so they can only browse the internet with approved sites (I guess a white list).

Any of you tackled this problem yet and have any suggestions? I’d rather the solution be PC specific as opposed to a router based filtering…but I don’t much about anything. Googling for “parental controls” brings back a ton of suggestions…so not sure where to even start.

Any ideas or input would be appreciated!


I got one kid using Google classrooms and another using an app for everything. Best I can say is that I’m not sure you’d really be able to safeguard ahead of time a whole lot till you know what you are dealing with. But general basic parental controls in Windows 10 can be found under Family Options

1 Like

Try the following maybe

" Google Chrome users can make use of the --host-rules parameter to block all domain connections except the ones they whitelist. The general parameter looks like this:

--host-rules="MAP *, EXCLUDE *"

This redirects all connection attempts to localhost, except for connections to the site or one of its subdomains.

You can also add multiple inclusions in the following way:

--host-rules="MAP *, EXCLUDE *","MAP *, EXCLUDE *"

Windows users can add the parameter to Chrome in the following way:

  • Locate a Chrome shortcut in the Start Menu, Taskbar or Desktop
  • Right-click the shortcut and select Properties
  • Append the parameter to the end of the Target listing, with a space in between.
  • Click Ok to apply the settings.

google chrome single-site browser

You could alternatively create a second shortcut to use it for accessing your important sites, and keep the general shortcut for all other sites that you visit in the browser."

or try this one


Good info there! I was planing to only allow Chrome on the laptops…so that might work out well…

The first one seems like it might be tied to the shortcut, so if you were to access it via the start menu it might not work. I could be wrong though.

1 Like

Have I mentioned how painful it is to update computers that haven’t been turned on in 2-3 years? Cleaning them off, updating them to Windows 10 (one is an i5 the other an i7), then updating Windows 10. Ouch. There goes my day!

1 Like

There are a large number of options available to you but I have a few suggestions:

  1. Make sure the user accounts for the kids on the laptop are set as standard users and not administrator accounts.

  2. For internet filtering, consider a “safe” DNS provider - this will stop the resolution of “unsafe” domain names. One example that I have heard of is OpenDNS which you can see here:

You can either set that up as the DNS server for the systems in question, or leave the default (which will typically be your router) and then set your router to use their DNS which will then apply to all devices in the house.

  1. Lastly, log in to your router and see what options it provides. Many non-ISP routers will include various parental type controls including URL and keyword filters.

You may also want to see if you can replace that ubiquitous CR2032 button battery while you are upgrading the machines or you may get a nasty surprise a few weeks down the road @BeachAV8R .


1 Like

There are always MacBooks …just say’n

Ok so I’ll just assume that this is the first time the kids will have a broader sort of contact with the online world and all its great and bad sides.

Also: some of the things I talk about might not apply. Just disregard them. This post is mainly meant to make you look at the topic from a different point of view.

I’ll be radical and say:
Why filters?

I know the Internet is full of dark and scary places (I’ve been there when I was a kid myself, despite all the attempts at filters) and if the kids are, like, 12 (I don’t remember their age, sorry. Time flies by) chances are pretty decent they know that and/or have been there already.
Us old guys (yeah I know you are 10 years or so older than me, bear with me for a moment) might think that it is becoming worse, but I am not sure we are right there. There have always been things like “Adolf Hitlers hate pages”, rotten dot com, the terrorist’s handbook, porn sites, chats infested by pedophiles and the like.

From my point of view filters make the problem worse, not better. They cause frustration (both for you and the kids) because they often block things they shouldn’t, and often do not block things they should. Many of them are rather easy to circumvent (kids are not dumb) and they also send the kids the message that you don’t trust them.

Probably you should trust the kids (to a certain degree that is). Some thoughts on that:

  • You may or may not tell them that you want to trust them or that you do trust them to a certain degree.

  • You may or may not tell them that you will be monitoring their traffic on a regular basis.

  • You may or may not install a monitoring program and you may or may not actually look at the results.

  • You should probably tell them that you expect them to work with those PCs, and only to work with them.

  • you should probably think about/define what consequences there are if they break the rules. But keep in mind that (depending on the situation) you should not overdo it, see below.

  • Quite important IMO: Make absolutely clear that there is nothing too embarrassing to talk about it. They have to tell you if there is something wrong, if they did something wrong that might get them or you into trouble, or if it causes discomfort for them.

Cyber-grooming, bullying, phishing, disturbing websites and fake news all exist, and everyone (including you or me) can fall for some of that ■■■■ and have a need to talk about it.

Some of it may happen even in the spaces you think about as safe. Just an example: some guy guessed a link of a video conference software used by schools in Norway and made a naked appearance in front of the virtual classroom.

Make clear that you are on their side if something goes wrong, and they do not have to hide it from you. Even if they caused it by breaking your rules.


I just noticed that I forgot some important thing:
You should probably tell them the usual safety measures.
Like, what you should not do on the Internet and how suspicious sites/questions/links look.
Stuff like:

  • If anyone asks for personal info, deny that request. Everyone who has to be in the know (like teachers) already is in the know.
  • don’t just click on links just because someone posted them. Even classmates post crap.
  • don’t believe everything you see on the Internet (Abe Lincoln said that).
  • when in doubt they should not do anything, but ask you or another person they trust (like your wife, a teacher etc.).
  • don’t open any files (such as *.doc files that can contain the “emotet” virus or zip files that can contain almost anything) except by trusted persons. Other kids are not trusted persons. When in doubt check back with a trusted person.
  • people on the Internet might not be what or who they say they are. My name is not actually Aginor. Nobody prevents me from calling myself Chris F.
  • don’t post stuff about other people. Don’t post stuff about yourself.

If they work with email or messengers, show them real phishing mails and the like. That is hugely helpful.


Thanks for the thoughtful and informative e-mails @Aginor - you looked at it from a unique perspective in shifting the trust to the kids and away from the technology, and I like that. I think a balanced approach might work best…give them a bit of leeway and trust.

I don’t know if their ages matter in all of this - my son just turned 10 years old last week, and his cousin (who we raise) will be 12 in a few weeks. I’m somewhat guilty of trying to “preserve their innocence” for as long as possible, but I also know they know things.

We are fairly liberal parents by any measure, so from that perspective I’m inclined to tilt toward your recommendations. But then a part of me doesn’t want them quite yet to know about all the horrible death and destruction that is out there. Sexual stuff - well, I remember finding my Dad’s Playboy magazines when I was their age…LOL…so I’m not too worried about that kind of stuff (to a point). But the videos of people dying or very graphic violence and stuff…I worry about.

I remember as a kid riding my bicycle to the public library to browse the stacks there. I used to devour anything about the military or Jacques Cousteau…and occasionally I’d go find an interesting trashy novel that was popular with the ladies and find a cubby to read it in. My oh my what I learned from Jackie Collins…haha…

To think kids have ALL of that at their fingertips these days. I can only imagine the differences in pace of development between my generation and theirs…in both good and bad ways.

Thank you for your thoughts…I’ll definitely take them to heart!


Me too. My kids are not quite there yet (5 and 3 years old) but I absolutely feel the urge to protect them as long as practical. Having a real childhood, without all that stuff, is something very valuable.

I don’t think there is a correct way to do all this. As parents we can just think about it and try and do the best we can. Nobody knows whether it worked until many years later.


Yes…my parents are still on the fence about me and my brother… :rofl:


Not to mention for all that you can protect them, when they are with their friends, whatever happens happens.

Luckily don’t need to worry about that right now, I guess!

The stuff my 5 year old says that he’s learned from friends in kindergarten… Like really?

1 Like

Well… my daughter definitely picked up some interesting words and habits in kindergarten. :smiley:

…although I am pretty sure that she picked up most of the colorful words from… me I guess.

Sea Story:

In 2004 the STENNIS is returning from its deployment. We held a “Tiger Cruise” where you get to bring a relative of friend to ride the ship back with you. I took my son who was 13 at the time.

The ship’s intel center (CVIC) had a couple of large screen TVs that we used for briefing. Sailors, being ingenious and resourceful, figured out a way to network them up with 2 x X-Boxes…and the great CVIC Halo Battles began.

Pretty much almost 24-7 during the transit you could find an 8-person Halo match going on in CVIC.

(I played a couple of times…but was dumb enough to name myself “N2”…I
S2 Smith - "On look! There is the N2! [Railgun shot] Ouch, that looked like it hurt N2…[Rocket goes Boom] Whoa N2! It looks like you’re dead N2. Time to respawn N2…
…and so it went.)

Anyway, one day I had some things to do so I dropped my son off in CVIC for a couple of hours. He was paying with another “Tiger” and a group of sailors…

When I retrieved him the conversation went something like this:

Me - Did you have a good time?
Son - Oh yea. Great.
Me - Um…did you, ah…learn any new words?
Son - (reluctant) um, yeah.
Me - Don’t tell your mother!


If sailors are known for one thing then it is cursing.
So sailors+children is almost guaranteed to yield colorful expansions of their vocabulary. :smiley:

Actually, when I was 18-19 I was assigned to USS WAINWRIGHT CG-28 for four weeks while she was operating in the Med. I was assigned to Engineering Department, B&M division - all Boiler Technicians (BT) and Machinist Mates (MM)…non-Nuclear MMs…there is a difference (I shall let @Navynuke99 wax eloquent). So I lived with these sailors - work, ate, slept (in a 50-man berthing compartment) and went on liberty (lots of drinking) with these guys…to say I picked up a few light colloquialisms might be an understatement.

Soon after I returned home I was having breakfast with my parents. They were being unusually quiet. Finally my father broke the silence turning to me with a stern look.

Dad - Did you know you were talking in your sleep last night?
Me - Nope… What did I say?
Dad - You need to watch your language.



Wow. I’ve spent my entire day getting the kids set up for online school. LOL…PDF files, Google accounts, etc…etc…

Then you get to the part where it says “Flash not enabled” and I think “is noon really too early to have a beer?”…

Educators…I love you all. I’ve always appreciated you. But I appreciate you even more now. I’d double your pay if I could.

1 Like