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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Incompetance in Parenting

From Bernard Hahn on Fri, 25 Jun 1999

Hello my name is Bernie.

I have a 16 year old son that is heading for big trouble on the net while I am at work. I can not be in both places at the some time to keep an eye on him. Do you know if there are any programs that will run in Windows 98 that can copy the key board buffer to a file that would let me read in a text format. I would like the program to run at boot up and be able to copy the buffer all day long. I believe reading his keyboard buffer may be of some help to me.

Please help, thank you for any help you my have to offer,
Bernie in Los Angeles

(!) First, I'm NOT the "I want to spy on my children's use of MS Windows" Guy! I'm the Linux Gazette Answer Guy.
Of course, if you used Linux it would be pretty easy to secure the system so that the Internet and the modem were inaccessible during specific times of day or until specific passwords had been typed. It would even be possible to configure filtering and access control (to monitor and limit web access). You'd probably need to invest in some cabinetry (physically securing a PC generally involves carpentry).
Your question has nothing to do with Linux.
More importantly your problem is much larger than any software can solve. No software in the world could possibly make your son more trustworthy. You cannot keep your kid out of "big trouble on the net" by spying on his keystrokes.
If the muddled thinking that leads you to the fundamentally flawed (and morally corrupt) notion that you should covertly spy on your own teenage child using such software is typical of your approach to parenting then its probably too late for Bernie Jr.
I don't know what kind of "big trouble" you're trying to protect the kid from. If it's porn, keep in mind that porn sites are generally accessed through a GUI browser --- which are conveniently configured for one-handed operation (point and shoot, so to speak). If you're afraid that the kid is "cracking" (sometimes erroneously referred to as "hacking") and/or phreaking than any attempts you make to lock him out of your Windows '98 PC will just be too pathetic. If you do successfully find out that he's been vising 'badboys.net' what do you plan to do? Confront him with your printouts? Ground him until he's 35?
So what do you think the kid will do when he knows he's been caught out? Will it be an contest: your computer skills and time against his? Can he detect and bypass your futre methods better than you can implement them? Will he go use some buddy's computer? Will he skip the virtual trouble of the 'net and go out to get into trouble of a more dangerous variety? What will it do for the kid's opinion of you that you don't have the balls to talk to him directly and that you have to resort sneaking around on him?
The whole think is disgusting.
If you can't trust the kid with the computer by himself --- lock the computer is some room when you're not home or get rid of it.

Copyright © 1999, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 43 July 1999
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Techinical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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