After two lockdowns and a pretty laisez faire approach, I’ve found that my kids have been pretending to do their homework, and actually gaming and YouTubing all their waking hours (and not just the ones when they weren’t doing their homework, as I had possibly naively hoped). That alt-tab trick you learned when the boss came near - my kids worked that one out faster than I did!
This means war!
The Cuckoo router (and most ISP supplied routers) offers two rather blunt tools for managing access to the internet:
- Time of day based access for devices (by their MAC addresses)
- Site filtering by domain name (either global for for specific MAC addresses)
While the time of day filtering is great for enforcing bedtime routines, it doesn’t help with my kids accessing time sinks.
The site-filtering approach is just whack-a-mole - how many domains are required just to block YouTube? How many domains can be entered before the router falls over anyway?
I would really like to hear what other parents are doing to manage their kids internet usage.
Here are some other tools I’ve used that can be made to work with Cuckoo’s router:
CloudFlare for Families
By changing the DNS server IPs used by your router to 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 you get both Malware and and Adult Content filtering, free of charge and no further configuration. Read more at 22.214.171.124 — The free app that makes your Internet faster.
OpenDNS is a similar product from Cisco systems, which allows you to manage different categories of content to block. You need to sign up, and set up your router to use Ping-O-Matic’s Dynamic DNS service with the same login credentials. Read more at Home Free by OpenDNS
MacOS Parental Controls
Mac’s have some built features to help - everyone needs to be set up with an iCloud account and joined to the same family. You can then set bedtimes (with a spoken warning a few minutes ahead of time), how long individial applications can be used, and some web filtering. It was rather hit and miss before Catalina, but seems a bit more robust now. The same limits are applied to iPads and iPhones. More info at Families - Apple (UK)
Microsoft have similar functions built into Windows 10 - screentime, bedtimes, application limits. Read more at Microsoft Family Safety | Online Safety & Digital Wellbeing
Google Family Link
Google also have some controls for Android devices. Read more at https://families.google.com/families
Any eager kid will eventually figure out how to circumvent these controls, and maybe that is a good challenge for them. I’m using a mix of 126.96.36.199 and router settings at the moment.
What are other people using to manage their kids access?