I received these emails from a reader:
Email one: "I have three small children who are getting more familiar with the web. I would like to restrict access to YouTube. I tried using the "restricted sites" section in ie by adding the address http://www.youtube.com/ to the restricted list. But that didn't work."
Email two: "BTW-Why doesn't the restricted sites section of IE work for YouTube?"
Ok, now bearing in mind that we're dealing with three small children here, not computer savy teenagers, there are a couple of things that you can do to quickly block all access to a particular web site that won't cost you anything.
The following may need some experimentation to get the URL to be blocked correct - I haven't had a chance to go to youtube to double check things.
Map youtube.com to localhost (127.0.0.1) using the HOSTS file
The HOSTS file is a hidden file that is used to map web site URLs to IP addresses. A special characteristic of the file is that it has no file type extension (such as exe, doc, txt, bat etc). The HOSTS file has historically been used by applications such as web accelerators to pre-map web sites to IP addresses. Unfortunately, such tricks can break access to a web site if it's IP address happens to change, because the HOSTS file will not automatically change its settings to suit.
The HOSTS file is also sometimes used by malware to redirect victims to fake web sites.
The HOSTS file is stored in a different area of your computer, depending on your operating system.
Windows 95/98/Me = c:\windows\hosts
Windows NT/2000/XP Pro = c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
Windows XP = c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts
If you cannot see the HOSTS file you may need to change your folder settings to be able to view the file:
win95/85/ME (My Computer, View, Folder Options, File Types - turn on the option to view hidden files)
XP / Vista (Control Panel, Folder Options, View tab - turn on the option to view hidden files)
You may need to use an account with local administrator rights to view/edit the HOSTS file.
Open the HOSTS file using Notepad. You will see content similar, if not identical to, the following:
# Copyright (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corp.
# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows.
# This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each
# entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should
# be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name.
# The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one
# Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual
# lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol.
# For example:
# 188.8.131.52 rhino.acme.com # source server
# 184.108.40.206 x.acme.com # x client host
All you need to do to block access to youtube.com is add the following line:
Block access to the site using Content Advisor
A more complicated, password protected, alternative to the HOSTS file is Internet Explorer's Content Advisor. This is accessed from within IE via Tools, Internet Options, Content Tab, click on the "Enable" button. You will see an "Approved Sites" tab. Enter youtube.com as a "never" and you are good to go.
Don't forget to go to the General tab and select a password to protect your Content Advisor.
A WORD OF WARNING: There are instructions available on the Web on how to remove the password from Content Advisor, therefore as soon as your kids are savy enough to query the web they will be able to get around this protection.
Another possible alternative is a hardware router (if you happen to use one). Many routers have a built in firewall nowadays and you *may* be able to block access to sites using that - the router will have an web browser based control panel which you should make a point of protecting with a username and password.
There is software out there that will allow you to monitor and control your children's internet surfing, but these MUST NOT be used as a replacement for parental supervision, guidance and mentoring.
Some sites that will help you keep your kids safe while they are online include: