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My son spends way too much time on games. I need parental control software that'll allow me to set per-day limits on a group of applications, or that will make application usage stats available in a processable format (such as CSV) either mailed to me or downloadable. I don't mind the application costing money; we're currently using qustodio, but that only allows per-app limits, not per-app-group limits, and it mails out tons of false positives on website usage (web monitoring is a plus but not a requirement).

Edit: this is for the Windows platform, and it would preferable impossible/non-trivial for him to turn this off. I don't need this to be hidden in any way -- he knows about it -- but I must accept that the temptation to play is too strong for him at this time.

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I think you should look at this question, too: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/696/… –  Lulu Jun 9 at 6:22
    
If he's playing games using Steam, it's possible that any sort of logging application will fail to differentiate between different games played on that platform. Since it runs constantly in the background, it might also give you false feedback on uptime. Some applications might cope with this, and it may not be an issue for you, but it's something to be aware of. –  Matt Thrower Jun 9 at 9:46
    
@MattThrower he does play steam, but if there was no differentiation that would actually be a plus, as it's monitor all the games together. Unfortunately, steam launches a new executable for each game and then gets out of the way. –  friflaj Jun 9 at 10:37
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Reading through this question and the comments I gather you are trying to illuminate to this 15 year old just how much he/she is playing...having been a 15 year old that loved playing video games I can tell you that stats are very unlikely to deter him from continuing to play...but good luck. –  James Jun 9 at 13:17
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Exactly. We (his parents) will also be looking into those stats, but want to have a conversation, not a draconian system that forbids games alltogether. We've moved his PC into the living room which has helped enormously, and Qustodio has allowed us to open the conversation without having to refer to intuitions, but Qustodio is bombarding us with false positives. –  friflaj Jun 9 at 23:18

3 Answers 3

You can use WhatPulse:

  • Most features are free
  • Windows/Mac/Linux
  • It records the total time spent in each program
  • Stats are available online as well as on the desktop client (from which you can export them as CSV).
  • Support several computers
  • It records the number of clicks per application:

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  • It records the time spent per application:

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Does WhatPulse register these uptimes as a running total, or does the CSV also allow me to see per-day usage? Would he be able to turn WhatPulse off? Edit: it has an API, sweet! –  friflaj Jun 8 at 22:50
    
Total running time: I guess you could either diff them or maybe try the premium feature (I don't know the specifics of it as I use the free features only). It's easy to turn off. –  Franck Dernoncourt Jun 8 at 22:58

You can use Xfire:

  • free
  • stats available online
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista, or Windows 7 (on Mac OS you can use MacFire, which is an open source implementation for of the Xfire network protocol for Mac OS X.)
  • designed to record game stats:

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It says its purpose is to host tournaments? I'm not looking to encourage hm any further :) Should I look at xfire classic? Is this something he'd be able to turn off? –  friflaj Jun 8 at 22:48
    
At the time I was using it there were no such focus on tournament: it was mostly an IM client to discuss with fellow gamers, share screenshots/videos and have game stats. (so yes it might encourage him further) He could easily turn it off but you could add him as a friend and ensure that he doesn't do so (just by checking that he is still online). –  Franck Dernoncourt Jun 8 at 22:57

I use RescueTime to monitor myself, and I think its best feature is that it sends you the summary in e-mail so you cannot forget to check on it.

It can group applications, monitor daily as well as weekly usage, and it can send alarms/notifications. I'm not sure if it can prevent applications from launching or terminate them, you might need another program to receive the notifications and act on them.

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I don't need to prohibit launching. I'm fine with him playing games, I just need him to see (and not being able to avoid seeing) how much time he spends on them. –  friflaj Jun 9 at 10:39

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