One of the greatest things about the Internet is having a world’s wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. But not all information is good — or appropriate — for your children. While we could write a book on Internet parental controls since there are so many ways to do, here’s a good starting point to keep your kids safe on the World Wide Web.
The main ways to secure your computer from questionable Internet browsing are by configuring your router, browser, or even the user account itself.
Some routers already have built-in parental controls that filter questionable sites out, depending on the level of filtering you want. Routers without these controls will have to be configured manually by changing your router’s DNS settings. With some routers, you can even set time limits or scheduled usage which is especially handy for around bedtime.
Because each router make and model has varying instructions, please consult the user manual that shipped with the router or contact your ISP to walk you through the process. Though it might be intimidating, configuring your router is the most robust protection you have, filtering sites out for the entire network.
Another option is locking down your browser, especially if you want to keep these controls localized to a single, one-browser device. Like routers, each browser is different: some come with built-in controls and others don’t. For those that don’t, there are extensions and plugins available, both free and premium. One major drawback of browser parental controls, however, is that they can easily be circumvented if there are multiple browsers on your computer. Just make sure to lock them all down to avoid this.
Finally, both Windows and Mac offer parental controls for their operating systems. These are useful because they offer localized protection without filtering the entire network. You can set up parental controls for either operating system by following these instructions from Microsoft or Apple if you use Windows or Mac respectively.
Keeping your kids safe through their smartphones is also easy, but with the myriad of apps out there, it’s difficult to choose the best option.
Here are a few parental control apps we suggest checking out first:
- Qustodio: a robust, cross-platform app that’s browser-independent; comes with a time scheduler for Internet, device, and application usage; has some iOS limitations and social monitoring only tracks Facebook.
- Symantec Norton Family Premier: offers cross-platform support with an intuitive web dashboard; no limit pm PCs, devices, or children protected; has a built-in location tracker to keep your kids safe; incompatible with Macs and has limited social media tracking.
- Net Nanny: powerful web filtering with Internet time allowances; includes app control for Android but has limited iOS features; while it’s one of the best apps out there, it lacks regular updates.
This isn’t an exhaustive primer on how to keep your kids safe on the Internet, but if you have any further questions on parental controls, we’re happy to help you out!