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Is there an app that I can run on my iMac that will regulate Internet usage?
Specifically, I want to only allow internet to work between 6-8pm.

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I'm sure you could write a simple apple script to enable/disable the networking device your using at a specified time each day or even a bash file to disable the network device (eth0, eth1, wlan, etc..) and have it set in the Crontab file to run at XX:XX time to disable the device and run at XX:XX time 7 days a week to renable the device. This is also dependent on whether the device is always on or not. You can find it at /etc/crontab –  Split71 Aug 29 '11 at 20:09
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Would you consider buying commercial software? Would you prefer to learn how things work to automate the steps you would take to control this manually? –  bmike Aug 29 '11 at 20:30
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Also - Internet usage is a huge concept. You can disable the entire network stack or just prevent use of certain apps. What you really want to accomplish will affect the ways. Parental control lets you restrict all computer use based on time but not just certain apps at certain times. –  bmike Aug 29 '11 at 20:40
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6 Answers 6

A simple lamp timer on your modem, router or access point device would be a low tech solution for a given fixed location. No scripting expertise required. Put tamper-proof tape on the jacks and plugs if you want to check for cheating. If you only want to affect one iMac, put a separate router on its ethernet cable, and plug that into the lamp timer.

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This is far superior to trying to hack together some script to disable the internet when the child account logs in, then have a timer to turn it on and off again like an iCal alarm might do. (or Lingon or a launchd job) Those are doable. –  bmike Aug 29 '11 at 22:20
    
Only works if the modem is not handling both net and phone. Ingenious, though! –  Neil Fein Aug 29 '11 at 23:50
    
We've got a time capsule so this wasn't an option, but the newer airport software now allows configurable schedules for access. –  bmike Nov 3 '12 at 10:10
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Don't overlook "the parent app".

It turns on the logging of safari using parental controls. Sets the normal time limits when the mac can be on and off.

Then it communicates to the children "the rules" and what happens when the parent determines that they have been broken. Why spend money or time on a more controlling solution if you can ensure they don't cover their tracks and will be caught if they stray.


Technically, managing this on the router is easier than on the Mac using the default Apple tools.

Apple has implemented timed access across the airport line, so fire up Airport Utility and set the times when you want access to the Internet.

You can set up default timed rules as well as specific policies for specific devices.

If you really want things to be controlled locally on the OS, turn on time limits under Parental Control under system preferences for each user account:

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And then prevent apps that you don't explicitly want them to use.

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I believe Firefox (if installed) defaults to on - so do review each and every app in the list. Your children can come to you as the administrator and you can over-rule these restrictions with your password - so this is the unattended default situation and you can grant them extra leeway with your password when needed.

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Be Advised: Parental Controls (the OS X feature, not the parenting of the children) only works with Safari, and not Firefox nor Chrome. –  Dennis Wurster Aug 30 '11 at 19:36
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Yes - you will want to only allow Safari and other white listed applications to prevent the managed users from simply bringing a USB drive with apps that bypass the logging of Safari. –  bmike Aug 30 '11 at 19:54
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If the goal is to block time-wasting "junk food for the mind" websites, I can recommend the WasteNoTime plugin for Safari or Chrome.

Other than that, even the cheapest Linksys router will support Access Restrictions whereby you can set up a schedule that would allow internet only between 6 and 8pm.

WasteNoTime will optionally let you specify a number of minutes per domain that you're willing to budget. So, if you don't want to spend more than 30 minutes per day at TVTropes.com for example, WasteNoTime will block that domain after the 30th minute. I've used it to block a couple of sites, and my productivity is improving!

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*.stackexchange.com would most certainly end up in my blacklist if I installed that! –  Andrew Vit Aug 30 '11 at 5:36
    
I have known people to buy a linksys router and hang it off an AirPort with a different SSID/network for the children. It's a great way to not cut off all the traffic - just some of the traffic (children's iPod Touch and computers) and not all the internet for the house. –  bmike Aug 30 '11 at 20:03
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If you own an AirPort Extreme, you can control access to the Internet via AirPort Utility:

Note that this only applies to wireless connections. Anything plugged directly into the AirPort Express will not be limited by this restriction.

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Can you re-upload your picture - we prefer to host all images so they don't disappear as this one has... –  bmike Nov 3 '12 at 10:06
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The Parental controls panel in System Preferences will allow you to limit access to the Internet.

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Oh wait. Did you mean ALL Internet access on ALL desktops? –  daviesgeek Aug 29 '11 at 20:34
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SonicWall

If you want to control and restrict access for your entire company or LAN, the SonicWall line of firewall stand-alone hardware products provides a tremendous amount of granular control of everything having to do with Internet access, based on time of day, destinations, protocols, you name it. They have a full range of products from small-business to enterprise-level.

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