How can I monitor my child's on-line usage?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on May 29, 2000

Question

I would like to know if there is a way to require a password for anyone to view or change the history file in Internet Explorer. I have a teenager (14) whom I do not want to be able to erase where he has been. That way I can be sure to monitor the sites. We have Aol 5.0 and IE 5.0

-Chuck

Answer

This question was answered on May 29, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.


The history file in most Windows based computers is a quick way to see where your children have been while surfing the Internet (to display history, press Ctrl-H in both IE and Netscape) But, in many cases, they also know that the history file is recording their movements and so they simply delete it when they want to cover their tracks Windows 95 & 98 don’t offer folder level security, so without some outside help, there is not much that you can do to keep them from deleting these files Fortunately, several programmers that must have kids of their own have created “parental spy software” I downloaded and tested many programs and came up with one that seems to have some real merit It’s called SpyAgent from Spytech Software and a demo version can be downloaded at <a href="http://www.spytech-web.com/spyagent2.htm"><font color="#003399">www.spytech-web.com/spyagent2.htm</font></a> The system requirements are Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and 1 MB of disk space If you like the program, it can be purchased on-line for $49.95

This program can be completely invisible or it can display a warning at startup that lets the users know that they are being watched In the “stealth” mode, it is undetectable and can’t be shutdown by using the Ctrl-Alt-Del method of closing programs No icon appears in the Systray (bottom right corner next to the clock) so the user is unaware that anything is monitoring the system In addition to tracking websites, SpyAgent can log the use of programs, any Internet connections including e-mail and chat rooms or even every single keystroke Not only can this program be used for parents to track their kids, but also network administrators that want to reduce “surfing on company time” may want to install it to warn employees not to abuse the system You can even have the logs e-mailed to you so that you can monitor your child’s usage from your computer at work

Since this program keeps its own logs of activity, clearing the History file will have no effect on it But, if your child is very computer savvy, it is important to load this program in the stealth mode, since it probably would not take them long to figure out where this programs log files reside and delete them as well!

The documentation was not as complete as I would like to have seen, but I got a very quick response via e-mail from the author when I submitted a question Technology is no replacement for good parenting, but it can re-enforce the rules that have been created Communicating with your child as to what is acceptable when on-line is where I would start, but it doesn’t hurt to let them know that an “Agent” will let you know if any “funny business” is going on!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on May 29, 2000

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