The case of the sneaky daughter and the wireless card

My 16 year old daughter has wireless Internet access with her notebook computer. My wife and I control the signal by putting the modem on a timer, thus not allowing her to access the Internet after 12:00 am. She's a high-school student and we want her off the Internet after midnight. However, she's learned to access other available Wi-Fi signals, so us turning off the modem does no good whatsoever. Other than confiscating her wireless card, is there any way we can keep her off the Internet after her curfew? Is there a way to block incoming signals to our home? Or is there a way to program her computer blocking her access to Wi-Fi other than our secured network?

My 16 year old daughter has wireless Internet access with her notebook computer. My wife and I control the signal by putting the modem on a timer, thus not allowing her to access the Internet after 12:00 am. She's a high-school student and we want her off the Internet after midnight. However, she's learned to access other available Wi-Fi signals, so us turning off the modem does no good whatsoever. Other than confiscating her wireless card, is there any way we can keep her off the Internet after her curfew? Is there a way to block incoming signals to our home? Or is there a way to program her computer blocking her access to Wi-Fi other than our secured network?

--Dan Meyerson

If her notebook computer is running XP Home, one option would be to enable logging in by username. Give her username enough to do what she needs do to but restrict her from making any changes such as selecting alternate access points. Depending on how the wireless card driver is written, this might be enough to prevent her from changing to another access point. This assumes that the SSID of your access point is unique and not running the default used by the manufacturer when it was made.

This will also give you another possible option. Use the XP's Scheduled Tasks function to run batch files to disable (and then re-enable) the wireless card at set times. It is possible to use one script to run automatically when she logs in and check to see if the network card needs to be enabled or disabled based on time.

Another option is to put a hub or switch between the access point and put that hub/switch on a timer. When the power is shut off to the hub/switch, she will still see the access point but can't go anywhere. If you need to use the access point within the house when you don't want your daughter to be able to use it, check within the firmware of the access point to see what kind of access control is available to control when a given workstation can and cannot access the Internet.

Not all access points have this, so you may need to change access point vendors if your current access point doesn't allow this.

If you have a friend who is an Amateur Radio operator and has experience with the Oscar satellites, he may have another option for you. Some of the newer satellites can operate in the 2.4 Ghz range. See if he has a signal source for this frequency range. What you are looking for is a signal source that is weak enough to not disturb your neighbors wireless access but to effectively make your daughters notebook "deaf" to hearing other access points. This signal source would need to be placed in a location close to where the notebook is normally used in order to be effective. It could be placed on a timer to only have power during the hours when you want to restrict wireless access.

Forum: Why not talk to the neighbor? - Discuss the case of the sneaky teen.

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