It’s really surprising to us that after all these years there’s still no real simple tool which lets you control Internet access in your home. Like a kill switch or similar. The idea is not so weird, there have been times when we felt that switching off the whole internet would be very useful, such as when strange data accesses occur which we can’t identify.
The other use for such a tool is of course to protect the wee children from their own obsessive behavior (!) which is why WebCurfew has been created. This free online service lets you control access to the Internet by hooking up directly to your home router via any web browser, and then providing on/off switches for all the connected devices in your home.
Once you’ve signed up for your account, you’re led through an online wizard to connect your router to the system, and although the whole thing is very well laid out and easy to follow, it failed to find our Linksys modem router in the database, which is something of a disaster when you’re trying to appeal to mom and pop users who just want something to work.
The idea is you switch on the router’s remote control access, and the system then authenticates and grabs access to your router from any browser connection. The fact that it’s a browser means you can access the controls from all devices including smartphones, and because it’s tapping into the router it’s able to control every device on your home network, which is great for switching off kid’s computer connections at homework or bed times.
The basic service is permanently free, but if you want to set up automated access times for your home and family use, then you’ll need to sign up for the Premium service for $4.99 a month. This allows you to set up timers for specified periods of the day, which means you don’t have to keep logging in to switch the Net on and off.
The concept is certainly sound, and we like the idea of having some sort of simple yet effective control over Internet access in the home, as it can be really difficult for some parent’s to convince their offspring that perhaps there is a world outside the front door which needs exploring. We are disappointed however that the list of equipment is so small (our modem/router is a mainstream model, albeit a couple of years old) and that there’s no obvious manual way round that restriction. When we tried to do it manually we still could not connect.
But overall, full points for trying, and we assume that the list of compatible devices will grow over time as the service matures. In the meantime, give it a try…after all it’s free, and quite easy to set up.