Best way to make Mac unusable part of the day?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by wordmunger, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. wordmunger macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #1
    My 15-year-old son has been having trouble getting his homework done. I think (and he agrees) that the biggest problem is having the temptation of the internet, chatting with his friends, and so on when he is supposed to be doing his homework.

    So we agreed that we should disable his computer (a mac mini running Tiger) from 4 to 7 every day so he can focus on homework. I've tried parental controls in the past, but they're a pain, there's no way to schedule them, and there are ways to get around them.

    So I'm thinking there are two possible solutions. One would be to simply remove the computer from his room (unplug the computer from the keyboard, monitor, and so on and keep it in my office). But that's a pain to do every single day.

    The other solution would be to get an external firewire HD (he needs the disk space anyways), and install the OS on the HD. That way we'd only have to remove the HD to disable the computer. I've read that it's not easy to install the OS on the external HD, though, so this might not be the ideal route.

    Any thoughts from MR users? Any other ideas?
     
  2. psychofreak Retired

    psychofreak

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    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    London
    #2
    I'm not sure about right now, but with Leopard this is an option in the OS, maybe you should wait a few weeks...
     
  3. Veritas&Equitas macrumors 68000

    Veritas&Equitas

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2005
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    #3
    Wow, sounds a little drastic.

    The kid is 15?!? Just tell him to stay off the $#%ing computer. Both him and you understand that it's ruining his study habits...does he need someone standing over him with a whip to prevent his mouse pointer from clicking on Safari? :eek:
     
  4. Derfy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    #4
    Coming from a 15 year old (me), I agree. That seems a little extreme. I know when it's time to do homework I necessarily shouldn't be chatting on iChat - and when I am, it shouldn't be a complete distraction.
     
  5. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus

    xUKHCx

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    The Kop
    #5
    It is very easy to install the OS on the external drive so this is a feasible route to go down. If self regulation isn't working.
     
  6. Scottyk9 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    #6
    If you have an Airport Extreme, you can use Access controls to limit the times that his computer (based on the MAC Address) can access the internet.
     
  7. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    is a state of mind.
    #7
    You can definitely install the OS on an external drive. It used to be the case that you could only boot from a firewire drive, but I *think* you can now boot from USB2 drives. If not, someone will assuredly flame me.

    Regarding the solution...it seems that you and your son both recognize the problem. I would hope that when my kids are ~15 that we could work this out intellectually and not resort to "hardware discipline." It seems that this would be a better life lesson. Just me two cents.
     
  8. DaveTheGrey macrumors 6502a

    DaveTheGrey

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    Dec 28, 2003
    #8
    you can do this with many routers, just check the preferences.
     
  9. phillipjfry macrumors 6502a

    phillipjfry

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    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    Peace in Plainfield
    #9
    When I was 15, "hardware discipline" never worked out for me. I always found a way around it. Either that, or cut the breaker to his room, then have him do homework from 4-7 in the dining/living room. That'll learn him :)
     
  10. DaveTheGrey macrumors 6502a

    DaveTheGrey

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  11. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Location:
    North Carolina
    #11
    Wow, you know, I never thought of that. Who ever would have thought just telling your kid to do his homework would cause his homework to get done? All these years I just thought he should decide to do homework on his own....

    Seriously, I agree, it sounds a little drastic. However, we did not arrive at this decision lightly. And he agreed that it's a good idea. We're not removing his computer entirely (even though this would be a completely reasonable option given how poorly he's doing in school), just a few hours a day to help him keep focused on homework.

    By removing his computer it means I *don't* have to hover over him at every moment -- he'll be reminded himself that he should get to work. He'd prefer that his parents stay out of his life as much as possible, but he agrees that he needs our help to keep him focused on school work.
     
  12. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #12
    I believe that only works with the most recent airport extreme. We have the original airport extreme, and I don't see that on the options in the admin software. So that would be a pretty expensive solution. Also, wouldn't we also have to upgrade the two airport express base stations on our network to get this to work?

    Hmmm... this suggests that just waiting for Leopard might be our best bet. I'm starting to think in the meantime I could just remove his keyboard and mouse.
     
  13. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #13
    Can he stay in the school library after school?

    I did this in college to force me to focus on my studies and it worked like a charm, went from about a 2.5 to a perfect 4.0. With no distractions and a desk with blinders on the sides it creates a conductive environment for studies. The first few weeks would be difficult but then he should become adjusted to the library routine. Even without the internet, for someone whom has difficulty focusing on studying most anything at home can become a distraction. Such as the need to dust doorways, play with lint on the carpet or any other superfluous triviality can become a source of procrastination.

    Another bonus of the library any reference material is readily available.
     
  14. /dev/toaster macrumors 68020

    /dev/toaster

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    Feb 23, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #14
    Leopard should solve this for ya ... the parental controls in Leopard are really amazing. You can schedule bedtimes (weekday and weekend) and only allow x number of hours per day (weekdays and weekends are separate)
     
  15. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

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    Location:
    North Carolina
    #15
    That would work... except their whole school has wifi and all students have laptops (They don't work on our home Airport network due to some proprietary stuff the school puts on them). So even the library is no escape from temptation!
     
  16. headhammer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    #16
    it takes a good deal of sense and honesty to name your temptations, and i think that it's tops that you've been able to work this out with your son!

    is it a necessity that he use the internet at all in his room? do you have a 'general access' computer that he could use for internet purposes if required?
    if so, there are two simple ways that i know of to simply disable internet access locally on his computer. both require you having an admin account on his computer and him having a general (non admin) account.

    the first in in parental controls, just disabling the offending programs, such as safari msn, ichat etc. he can't open them, he can't access the internet. bingo.

    the second is a little more elegant, in that if other programs are installed later, (somehow...) it's not the programs themselves that are disabled, but the connection to the net. this method assumes that his access is by the airport base station you've already mentioned.

    in system preferences, under network, open the airport settings, under 'tcp/ip" change the dropdown menu from "using dhcp" to "manually". then click on the padlock in the bottom left to lock the preference pane.

    without the administrator password, he can't unlock this pane on his own, and without actually entering any information in the manual configuration, the computer won't be able to find your, or nearby neighbors', wireless networks.

    if he needs/wants to access the internet on his computer, it's easy for you to enable it (it takes about 10 seconds to open system preferences, change it over to dhcp, lock the setting, and quit) and just as easy to disable it again later.
     
  17. chilipie macrumors 6502a

    chilipie

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    May 8, 2006
    Location:
    Englandshire
    #18
    Haha, PoTW!

    When I'm trying to do school work (upon realising I really actually do need to do it) and keep getting distracted by t'internet, I read threads like this... or just go and sit downstairs, away from my Mac. Sometimes, just unplugging the ethernet cable can do a world of good - it doesn't prevent you from going online, but it's another step to prevent idle surfing.
     
  18. headhammer macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    #19
    can we please stop bashing the parent(s) here?
    all i see is great parenting, as the son and parent are working together, agreeing on a helpful solution.

    the hard word of the law is not (always) the answer, unless you want to embitter your children and have them leave your house at age 16.
    parenting is not the same as dictating.

    wordmunger, i admire what you're doing, and i think it's grand that you're able to work with your son to achieve what you both agree to be the best for him. i think it's fantastic that he can see this and admit to this without you needing to beat it out of him (as some people don't seem to understand), as it will make him into a much stronger person.

    people, this is how self discipline is learned. please grow up.
     
  19. jabrowntx macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #20
    WOW, y'all will think I'm a monster then. If the computer becomes too much of a distraction if the kiddos are supposed to be doing something else, I just power it off and take the power cord -- problem solved.
     
  20. gotzero macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Location:
    Mid-Atlantic, US
    #21
    I assume you bought this computer?

    If so, "rent" it to your child at the cost of 4 hours of homework/reading/mind expanding time per day. As GPA goes up, explain that it will take fewer hours per day to rent the computer.

    Hopefully the correlation between good work and nice things will start to go up.

    If your child is 15 now, you will very soon hold a very valuable bargaining tool, the car. No reason the same principle could not be applied.
     
  21. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #22
    I'll suggest an extremely low-tech solution: remove the power supply cord. This can't be too much of a hassle if you think about it.

    However, I think that in order to make him settle down and do some real work, he's going to have to learn how to deal with distractions the hard way. In three years when he's headed off to college, you're not going to be there to unplug his computer for him.

    Use this time to teach him how to work in a distracting environment. Whenever you have time to spare, sit with him and show him how to avoid becoming distracted (I designate periodic breaks when I do work so that I don't feel like I've zombied out).

    Either way, this problem isn't technical, so the solution can't be technical either. Just my thoughts though.
     
  22. wordmunger thread starter macrumors 603

    wordmunger

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2003
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #23
    Actually the power cord isn't a great solution. The mini has a fairly standard power cord, and we have lots of cords and things laying around the house. Plus it's a pain to crawl behind the table to plug it in and out twice a day. That's also why the keyboard/mouse removal solution isn't ideal.

    I don't want him to have the temptation to cheat on this.

    But removing the keyboard/mouse should suffice for a few weeks until Leopard comes out. Looks like I'm going to be an early adopter after all.
     
  23. CalBoy macrumors 604

    CalBoy

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    #24
    Ahh, ok. But are you going to teach him how to avoid temptations when he's doing work? That really should be your primary goal.
     
  24. spork183 macrumors 6502a

    spork183

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    #25
    Get the firewire drive, clone the existing one to it using SuperDuper or similar, then erase the internal and use it for storage. Piece of cake. You put the drive on the kitchen table until the homework is done.

    Otherworldcomputing sells some pretty nice portable firewire solutions.
     

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