Becoming a parent made me understand authoritarian thinking. ‘I am more knowledgeable and I have your interest in mind, so follow my rules’ is the boiled-down rationale for so many different things we present our children. The result is that for better or worse, I’m constantly looking for tools to help implement my vision of a safer world for which to foster my child. You might be too; and, dystopian fascist regime aside, there are several practical reasons to put constraints on Internet access. Controlling internet access isn’t even limited to those with children, it’s simply an easy reference point and analogy.
With subsequent releases (at the time of writing this we’re up to v4.3), The Anonabox PRO has two scheduling tools that can be useful in many different situations. For the sake of this blog, we’ll continue exploring their use as a parental control, but I encourage you to be creative about how to make these tools useful. We’ll explore each in sufficient detail to understand how they work and how to best apply them as well as detail certain considerations and shortcoming that will help you decide what will work best in your own personal situation. For truncated step-wise instructions and other how-tos, please explore or new and always evolving Wiki page.
The WiFi Schedule tool provides a way for you as the admin to set times when the WiFi will be available and when it will not. In today’s connected internet environment, odds are this will be the primary way your devices will be connecting to the Anonabox. As such, when the WiFi is scheduled to be off, you are effectively turning off your internet access point. Because you can run multiple schedules together, you can create different blocks of times where the internet can be accessed and prevent connections when it is outside of these blocks. So when it’s family time, or bedtime, or any other regularly scheduled period, you can decide whether to allow your children to have internet or not. Here is how to do it.
Use the ‘Services’ Tab and select ‘WiFi Schedule’
Under ‘Global Settings’ you’ll want to begin by making sure that the ‘Enable WiFi Schedule’ check box is checked.
As you scroll down you’ll see two schedule examples. Take note that each schedule can be enabled separately. You can configure your schedule rules by day and local time. Note that time is notated in 24:00 format.
One other thing to pay attention to is the ‘force disabling wifi even if stations associated.’ make sure this is checked if you want a hard cut off at the time you specify. Having it checked will kick any connected device off and make sure that your internet access is cut off at the time designated.
There is an ‘add’ button at the bottom of the page for you to create another schedule if additional ones are needed.
Always click ‘Save and Apply’ when you are finished making your changes.
It’s important to understand a bit about how the schedule is being run in the background. When the time and day coincide with a scheduled rule it will run a script that enables or disables the wifi. This script ONLY runs at the specified times. Consider this scenario: Current time 08:20 Monday. WiFi currently off. You set a schedule for Monday, start 08:00, stop at 09:00. On a given Monday, you’d now expect your wifi to be active at the current time of 08:20. But the command to start the wifi will only occur at 08:00, so in this example, at the time you’ve created this schedule, your wifi will remain off until another wifi scheduled start time or the following Monday at 08:00.
Do know, that you have manual activate and disable buttons at the top of the page. This will run the command manually and can be applied anytime. In the prior example, you can manually activate the wifi at 08:20 and with the new schedule enabled, the wifi will be shut off at 09:00.
Some other things to consider:
Using the WiFi Schedule tool has some potential disadvantages. You as an admin are also unable to use the WiFi when it has been disabled. This means any changes to the Anonabox configurations will need to be made via an Ethernet LAN connection. Similarly, you will not be able to access the internet in general without that wired connection. If a wired connection for internet access isn’t desirable, consider adding an additional access point with a separate router, or a second Anonabox. These access points can be password protected to prevent unwanted internet access when the wifi schedule is preventing access. There are a few different ways to network this, and we’d be happy to lend suggestions if needed. Simply email us at email@example.com
The Access Control tool is an exclusionary rule based on time and day for specific internet devices. This is a powerful tool, because it will prevent access whether wireless or wired. This tool allows you to set different rules for different devices. You could allow your older child longer access time than your younger child for instance while maintaining access for your own devices. This of course assumes devices remain in the possession of the desired individual, which might be much easier said than done. Additionally, because it is exclusionary, it will by default allow any device access. If a friend’s device is present, and a rule hasn’t been set, this device will be allowed access at all times. Even so, it can be a very useful tool. Here is how to get started.
Use the ‘Network’ Tab and select ‘Access Control’
make sure that the ‘Enable’ box under ‘General Switch’ has been checked.
Under Client Rules, make sure that the ‘Enable’ box is checked for any rule you want activated.
Once enabled, you will need to select a MAC address* for the rule to be applied to.
*MAC Address is how individual devices are identified within the local network
Use the drop down to easily select a MAC address.
Specify time and day to have access denied.
Use the Add button at the bottom of the page to add new rules
Always press the ‘Save and Apply’ button when you are finished making changes.
Creating rules for specific devices is best done when the device you are targeting is connected to the network. This will ensure it is included in the MAC address drop down. Otherwise you will need to know the MAC address up front to create a custom rule.
You may want multiple exclusion times per device per day. Simply build e new rule for each exclusion time and have each one enabled. There is no cap to the number of rules that can be applied, so you can get very custom, if not overly complicated, if desired.
These rules should have an immediate effect. So if for instance a friend of your child comes over and begins accessing the internet when you’d prefer your child not to be, you can create a custom rule that applies to that MAC address which would at that point be visible in the MAC address drop down. Once applied, it should immediately prevent that device from continuing to access the internet.