Using Gertrude

Tips for Keeping Users Safe

Using Gertrude is the cornerstone of keeping your kids safe online, but it can't prevent every kind of problem. Take a few minutes to review this list of tips and common mistakes.

Remember what's at stake

It's going to take time, effort, and diligence to keep your kids safe on the internet. It will be annoying and frustrating at times, and will interrupt your day frequently. There will always be a temptation to simplify your life by disabling protections and telling yourself that "my kid's a good kid, he'll be OK". Settle it ahead of time that you're willing to put in the time and effort to actually keep them safe. Gertrude helps a huge amount, but no tool can make this perfectly easy.

Look up some statistics on pornography addiction. The numbers are heart-breaking and overwhelming. If you have a pre-teen or teenager (of either sex) with unrestricted access to the internet, there's almost a 100% chance they will be exposed to (or more likely, develop an addiction to) pornography. The danger is incredibly real, and far more serious than most realize.

Be careful with passwords

Gertrude is only as safe as the admin account password protecting it. If your users know your password, or can guess it, all bets are off. Once they can authenticate as an admin, they can remove or disable all of Gertrude's protections.

If you use the same password for many things, or if your computer password is easy to guess, or easy to type, or hasn't been changed for a long time, your kids may very well already know it. We recommend changing your password regularly, and being careful not to type it while your kids are watching. I require my kids to look away or be in another room whenever I'm typing a password.

This also goes for your Gertrude parent account. Your users should not know the password for that account, or have access to a computer where you are logged in as the parent.

Let them know you're watching

If you're using Gertrude's monitoring features (screenshots and keylogging), make sure that you're periodically reviewing them in the parents website. Specifically, make it a point to frequently mention something you saw or read while reviewing your activity. This way, they will always know that everything they do on their computer is truly being watched, which is often as effective in keeping them in safe places as the filter itself. It takes a little bit of time each day or each week to do this, but it's truly worth it.

Discuss the "why"

The internet is a fantastic place in many ways, but it has an incredibly dark side. Talk to your kids frankly about the dangers, and your own experience (good and bad) with the internet and its temptations. If they deeply understand and agree with why you're trying to keep them safe, you'll convert them to an ally, and provide them with more motivation to stay careful and innocent when presented with opportunities.

Practice layers of internet safety

The best defense is a "defense in depth." Layer on other means of safety like:

  • requiring computer use to be done in public places, with the screen visible
  • remove computers from kids at night
  • don't give your kids a phone, or make sure it is extremely locked down
  • keep your home wifi password a secret
  • put your wifi on a schedule, auto-disabling at night, if your router supports it

Be thoughtful about other contexts

If your own computers are carefully protected, that can't protect your kids from what their peers or friends might expose them to on unprotected phones or computers. Think very carefully about where and who your kids have access to, and consider making changes. Be willing to have an awkward conversation requiring all phones and devices to be collected and removed before you kids can play with friends with unprotected or partially protected devices.


The Gertrude mac app helps you protect your kids online with strict internet filtering that you can manage from your own computer or phone, plus remote monitoring of screenshots and keylogging. $5/mo, with a 60 day free trial.

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