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We recently bought a netbook for my first grade daughter. While she is not heavily into computers at this point for school, she is a big fan of Starfall.com (an early reader site), and can monopolize the family computer for hours. We decided to buy a netbook for her use because it is small, would be easy to attach to our home network, will work well for my on-the-go-writing and because we could lock it down.
My main concern for my daughter using a computer, even though she only uses it with one of us in the room, was where she could go on the Internet. That means I had to employ a rather extensive lockdown with multiple layers, and it had to have a small footprint, since the netbook has an 8 GB hard drive in it.
I took a two fold-approach: I locked down the browser, and then put filtering on to catch any “accidents”.
I installed Firefox, and the Foxfilter extension. It is password protected, and the whitelist is activated so that the browser will only go to certain pre-approved sites. I disabled IE as well so that she has to use Firefox.
The secondary filter was BlueCoat K9. This takes all browser requests and sends them against the database, eliminating sites in categories I deem unsafe. This was free, and has a very light footprint.
By putting these two items in place, I feel fairly confident that my daughter will be fairly safe on the internet. We will still monitor her usage, but I don’t have to worry so much about her getting an eyeful while looking for something innocent.
Photo by schoschie