A new Firefox extension, called Glubble, is available that adds a parental control system to the Firefox browser. It’s nothing overly extravagant since it only enforces a whitelist of URL’s for the children, but it can give peace of mind to parents out there.
There is a default list of sites that ships with Glubble which are classified as kid-safe, and when setting up the accounts it asks whether the child is a boy or a girl. It uses that information to create a more customized homepage for the child based upon their gender. For example, a girl would have a link to Barbie on their site while a boy would not.
Children can request that certain sites be approved, and a parent can immediately approve the request if they are available to do so. If the parent is not available Firefox will prompt the parent to approve the site the next time they login.
Words don’t really do this justice, so I thought I would walk through a common scenario that might occur at a household. This demonstrates all of the various features that Glubble ships with (click any image to enlarge it):
- After installing Glubble the parent will be prompted to create an account:
- The parent then creates users, and they’ll be shown on a user management page. I named the users so that you can tell who is who, for example, the parent’s username stands for "I’m a Parent":
- Firefox is locked until a child or parent logs in (this is what you’ll see when starting Firefox from now on):
- A child logs on and is able to search Google, Yahoo, and visit some recommended sites using a customized Firefox skin. Note: When searching it only pulls up results for the approved sites.
- A child can also navigate their sites using the drop-down menu from the top which shows thumbnail previews of the sites:
- If a child tries to visit an unapproved site they will need to get the permission of a parent first:
- If the parent wasn’t around to approve the site, they will be shown the request the next time they login to Firefox:
- If the parent comes across a kid-friendly site while browsing around, they can instantly enable it for any of their kids:
- Or they can manage the sites that are approved for a child:
- And then when the child gets back online they will be notified that their site request had been approved:
As you can see this can be an extremely useful tool for parents who are trying to protect their kids from explicit content on the Internet. There is, however, a problem that arises for those people who have technological kids. It’s actually possible to remove (or temporarily move) the folder which contains the extension in the Firefox profile folder. That means the extension would immediately be deactivated and the user is given full access to the Internet, which can also be done by running Firefox in safe mode.
This doesn’t quite match up to the built-in parental controls that Vista has, which lets parents limit the amount of time that a child can use the computer, monitor their activity, and control which games they can play. In the reports the parents can even see the most recent websites that were visited, which applications a child ran, and what files they downloaded…none of which Glubble can do.
Of course Glubble doesn’t cost a thing, and knowledgeable parents not using Vista will hopefully see this as a way to protect their kids. When the final version of Glubble is released in October we’ll hopefully see some reporting features included, but they have definitely got the ball rolling in the right direction.
Source: Spread Firefox