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I really have to monitor the way my teen kids are using the computer at home. they are smart, so MSN and firefox history are not good options.
I use fedora7, and (obviously) have root password. There is no LAN involved and all I want is to know what they are seen and writing to while they use Orkut, Gmail, MSN and Google Talk. I really dont need they password (I think its too much intrusion)
Unfortunately my answer would not be a technical one. Monitoring, like an authoritarian system of government under absolute control of a single person would do, is a symptom of distrust. Now if you don't trust them, how do you think any monitoring will "help" you retain control? Look up the threads here at LQ on parental control to see what I mean. They also contain software hints so your time should not be wasted.
Being a parent sometimes sucks. I once knew this guy who'd married then divorced and had again married. His current wife had kids from a previous marriage and some of her kids had 'issues'. These 'issues' sometimes involved arrests. This guy came to work frustrated one day because a cop had questioned his parenting since his boy always seemed to be in trouble with the law. The guy stated that he'd tried everything and at some point he'd have to let his son be responsible for his own actions.
Sometimes, kids DO need some type of assistance, especially if they are minors (below 18 yrs old). In the end, if they're doing something unlawful, the law comes looking for the parents. Depending on the laws broken, parents can be liable criminally or civilly.
I'm a parent of 3 kids. Until they are out of my home, I will watch them and attempt to be as aware as possible in what they are involved in. It's called caring. The point is not to lord it over them just for the sake of being the authority figure. In today's age of child abduction and other similar horrific crimes, I'd rather piss off my kids in monitoring them than try to be their friend and let bad things happen because I didn't want to hurt their feelings.
That being said, I use several tools...Squid (still getting familiar with this tool) and OpenDNS.org's 'OpenDNS'. My kids are young enough to not yet understand DNS or how to change DNS settings, so I rely soley on OpenDNS for now, until I get a better handle on Squid.
Also, manipulating access controls on your router helps (in fact, you can put OpenDNS' DNS hosts into the router's settings so that any LAN host will use OpenDNS). I also have 3 different Snort sensors and one firewall that logs in a very verbose manner (the router does this also).
There are other tools out there. I suggest searching the LQ forums and googling around.
I agree monitoring kids usage is a must. My 12 Year old niece was giving out her real name and address to people she met on the Internet.. Kids just don't seem to grasp how dangerous that can be.
I give my Sister-in-law grief for allowing the kids to have PC's in their rooms.. the family PC should be located in a shared space such as a family room or living room.
the FBI was handing out these child ID kits at the seminar I went to last week.. I grabbed enough for all my nieces and nephews.. http://www.childidprogram.com/ You can fingerprint and get DNA samples for your child and keep it at HOME in case it's ever needed. (hopefully not) beats having your kids printed and put on file with some police station, since you maintain possession of the kit...
I use Squid with Dansguardian also... If your inclined you can proceed to setup your system as a transparent proxy and that way the browsers don't have to be manually configured, and if the kids are sharp they can't get around it by setting it back to automatic.
Squid transparent proxy with dansguardian and using Sarg to view the activity is a very good step in the right directioon for a parent in todays day and age with the internet in my mind.