General Question

JamesM's avatar

How can I see what my son is doing on his laptop?

Asked by JamesM (7points) May 6th, 2019

So I’ve bought a new laptop for my son in middle school. However I think it’s a good idea to keep in touch with what he’s using it for..

Is there a way to track his activities? Maybe to block him from using certain websites?
I’m not the most tech-savvy person so bear with me on this..

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

14 Answers

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Hey there. Hope all’s well. With all due respect, I think doing this is a bad idea. If your son finds out, it will break any trust you have with him and he will close himself off to you. My parents used to do this to me too around this time and it led down a very frustrating, complicated and also painful path. A much better way to handle this is to talk to him about what’s on Internet. Warn him about what’s out there not just to sound preachy but also give it a spin by telling him that he could get viruses on his laptop if he’s not careful. Also warn him that everything he posts on the Internet is not easily removable.

I know it sounds hard and may not be what you want to hear, but I have 100% experienced this as the son whose parents hovered over me like this, and it became hell growing up. I wouldn’t want your family to go through something like that. Instead, face the elephant in the room openly. If you haven’t done so already, talk to him about sex. Talk to him about drugs. Talk to him about anything in between. Middle school is going to be the cusp of adolescence and he’s going to be thinking weird things as he’s trying to figure out who he is. Rather than making him feel like Big Brother is always watching, make him feel like you are always there for him.

janbb's avatar

I suspect you’re trying to close the barn door but if you do decide to put in any parental controls or tracking, I would discuss them in advance with your son and have him agree to them. I agree that sneaky tracking is no way to build trust.. When my kids were young many years ago, we had a desktop in the family room.

I don’t know the mechanism for blocking porn sites and such but you might be able to do a search on YouTube for instructions on blocking sites.

flutherother's avatar

Personally, I would keep track on how the laptop is helping with his schoolwork and I wouldn’t worry too much about what else he may be using it for. Showing trust is important.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would not go out of my way to install programs like Kaspersky’s Safe Kids, or Net Nanny.
That said, I would set the controls on my browser and search engines to the strictest levels possible to avoid “adult content”. I’d also turn off pop-ups, and add an AdBlocker extension. Try adding the WOT WebofTrust extension, too.

Also On Windows 10 has a setting. Open the Start menu. Click settings Click Family & other people Click. Manage family settings online, Web browsing, Click the Block inappropriate websites switch.

These settings will reduce the chance your kids, and you, will end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
I recall years ago, when my kids were doing a search for estes model rocket engines the “helpful” search engine autocorrect inserted a “T” at the front. The screen filled up with popups of things unrelated to rocket engines.
Another time they were looking for something from the sporting goods supply store dicks. They assumed the address ended in .com. Wrong!

I’m using Windows 10, Firefox browser, and duckduckgo for my search engine. Your combination will be different. In my case I click on the search box and a menu opens. Select Change search settings and enable “Safe Search”.
That will keep the laptop and your son healthier for a little while longer.
(BTW, I use Safesearch on my own lap top. Rarely, if ever, am I surprised by unwanted content.)

Good luck. I’m so glad my kids are married adults with kids of their own now.

Inspired_2write's avatar
That should had been installed BEFORE you gave him the laptop.
You are the administrator and owner and parent of the child and he/she should be protected and also to prvent downloading expensive apps etc ( at your cost).

gorillapaws's avatar

I agree with the consensus. Don’t covertly run spyware on his machine, instead put in the appropriate parental controls as mentioned above and have a conversation about internet safety. Topics I would cover are adult material (on a related note, explain that having a nude selfie from one of his classmates is child porn and can ruin many lives), privacy from sites that are trying to get your information, password security (use a good, unique password for each site with a password manager), phishing, online predators, being very cautious about what he posts on social media because it will follow him for the rest of his life, etc. If you’re not familiar with any of these topics, I would suggest doing some research on all of them at your earliest opportunity.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Give him a password book so he can keep track of all this unique passwords.

Inspired_2write's avatar

A normal kid would immediately change the passwords..LOL

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Inspired_2write That is ok. They kid can make up fake ones in the book. Or hide the book someplace.
The purpose is to instill some password discipline.

johnpowell's avatar

When I was teenage boy we didn’t have the internet. But we had 7/11’s and homeless people. Yeah, homeless dudes will buy 13 year old kids porno mags if you give them a little extra money for beer.

My point is you are probably not going to prevent the kid from from looking at stuff you don’t like. Do you know know a Linux Live CD is? Your kid does and makes any parental controls you put on the computer moot. You basically install a whole new operating system on a USB thumb drive. Wanna get around the locks? Plug in the little thumb drive and boot from it and your parental locks are worthless and it leaves no trace.

Any locks you will put on the computer will give away the fact that they are being monitored. You are better off not blocking anything but maybe look in your router logs and keep an eye on the URLs they are visiting.

It is kinda funny. The parents use the computer as a babysitter but now they actually have to do real parenting. My parents didn’t have to have uncomfortable conversations with us about nude selfies, pedophiles, and the alt-right. Mario and a basketball were my babysitter.

But if you must block stuff you are probably better off doing it at the router. And even that doesn’t really work since routers have reset buttons on them. I would just get a router that does a reasonable job of logging the urls visited and look at that every once in a while.

RocketGuy's avatar

I put Norton Family on our kids’ laptops, then set it for age-appropriate blocking/warning. It put out e-mails when they went somewhere restricted, so they knew not to go to really bad places. I rarely harassed them about the places that they got flagged at.

Response moderated (Spam)
Response moderated (Spam)
Response moderated (Writing Standards)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther