Let’s face it, parents. Our kids aren’t listening. They have a million things on their minds, and we don’t make the list. No, they’re not bad kids, but . . . just sayin’. What happened last time you asked her to clean her room?
Take that reality and throw it up against the wall. Not just any wall, your home’s internet firewall. Fact: they’re addicted to every thing with a smart screen. Fact: one chat session can derail homework and mental health in a second. More? They can’t quit this. Not on their own.
I didn’t struggle with the internet as a teen, but I remember a few of my own awkward situations. For instance, a friend would invite me to a wild party. I knew I shouldn’t go, but I didn’t want to fight it alone. Then, I remember a day when Mom did the coolest thing. She said, “I’m going to be the bad guy for you. I’m saying ‘No.’ Tell your friends you can’t go and be sure to tell them it’s all my fault.” She had no idea how much pressure that took off of me.
Fast forward. It’s the year 2017, and your pre-teen can’t put down his phone. The chat window won’t quit, YouTube has taken over his brain, and now it’s bedtime. He can’t tear himself off. Are you ready to do something brave? Time to become the bad guy for the sake of your kid.
As an internet security expert who authored data sanitation solutions for the military, the way out of my own situation looked obvious to me. I mean, if something isn’t there, you can’t steal it, right? The best security strategy is one that removes access to all vulnerable targets. Put that in terms of my kids’ internet safety? The internet just needs to go bye-bye when they aren’t supposed to be on it.
What wasn’t obvious to me was how many parents were struggling with a solution to this same problem. This year, I tossed a post on Facebook, joking with myself about the fact that I had just fallen victim to my own internet curfew while fixing my son’s computer. I was surprised to see a rush of comments begging me to tell how I set a curfew in the first place.
See, these days tech manufacturers are starting to figure out that we want more control of our always-on internet connections. Routers come from the manufacturer now with some fairly simple interfaces that let you walk through a wizard to set an ACL (Access Control List) and then configure scheduling rules around it. Just a few years ago, you would need some professional level networking skills to hack through all of that. Today, graphical wizards are better at pointing out to you how to configure “parental control.”
Every device is different, but to call out an example, Netgear has a solution that is rather straightforward. Taken from their Knowledge Base article on router scheduling , it’s encouraging to see steps as simple as these:
- Click ADVANCED > Security > Schedule.
- Specify when to block keywords and services:
- Days to Block. Select the check box for each day that you want to block the keywords/services or select Every Day, which automatically selects the check boxes for all days.
- Time of day to block. Select a start and end time in 24-hour format, or select All Day for 24-hour blocking.
This is only one of an array of home router examples. A quick Google on the terms “family internet curfew” or “internet control family router” will turn up a wide variety of choices. Can you handle this yourself? It’s a definite maybe. It depends on how comfortable you are with your home routing equipment. You might still want some professional assistance from your internet provider or from a trusted friend or family member. But the point I want to make to you is that control of your family’s internet schedule is possible, you don’t have to pay a lot for it, and it’s likely that you can start doing it today.
A curfew for your famity is about the simplest way to avoid arguments about inappropriate internet use. Do a little research and consider one for your household. Your kids may not thank you today but later on, I bet they’ll figure out that you helped them big.