3 Ways to Control Internet Access
(Well, ways to make more challenging for your kids.)
Our kids are often more comfortable than us with technology. They leave us in their dust as far as the internet and technology goes. As parents, we wonder how we are going to protect our kids from the dark corners of the internet as they become more curious about life.
Parental Controls are not full proof, nothing is. Something bad is always going to get through the filters. Kids these days do not see Parental Controls as roadblocks at all, they are annoyances at best. If anything, kids probably see Parental Controls as a challenge that they will gladly accept. A child bypassing these safe guards is similar to us sneaking out at night when we were kids.
Relying on one product to protect our kids from all bad things on the internet is unrealistic. You need a multipronged approach to Parental Controls. In fact, don’t even call them Parental Controls, consider them as “content limiters”.
Ideally, you need some easy set and forget solution if you are busy like most parents. You probably don’t have the time or the inclination trying to maintain content filtering software or block every bad site at your router. Let’s look at three modifications you can make that will help secure every device on your home network.
1. Use a “Family Friendly” DNS Server for your network
Domain Name Service (DNS) is the automatic process of converting a website address into the IP address so that your device can connect to the server. The reason the feature is required is because people find it easier to remember a website address than the IP address. The DNS servers you use will determine what you can connect to and how quickly the website to IP translation happens.
Your home router is most likely configured to use your ISP provided DNS servers out of the box. This is done to make it easier for people to set things up as quickly as possible. However, this not the best configuration as your ISP provided DNS servers do not provide any filtering and they are usually slower at the website to IP translation.
There is a solution to this issue, public or open DNS servers. You can simply change the DNS settings on your router or each device to point to a suitable public or open DNS server provider. Some public or open DNS servers provide automatic content filtering and will screen out porn, scam related or malware infested sites. This automatic filtering will not catch everything and some are better than others. “Family Friendly” DNS services such as Open DNS’s free Family Shield, is one of the best and widely used products on the internet.
This method alone is not full proof. Your child could simply use the IP of whatever website they want to go to. If your child can figure that out then perhaps they are destined for a career in the IT industry. You can find out more about it in this article on Improving Security with Alternative DNS.
2. Turn on Your Router’s Time-based Internet Access Restrictions
It is impossible to monitor your kid’s activities all the time, especially at night. Thankfully, most home internet routers and wireless access points have the ability to restrict access to the internet between particular hours. For instance, you could only allow access to the internet during the daytime and early evening hours. Each device is different, so you need to check the manufacturer’s user manual to confirm if this feature is available and how to use it.
3. Turn on Your Search Engine’s Safe Search and Lock it
Another way to filter the rubbish on the internet is to use your favourite search engine’s “Safe Search” filtering feature. Google, Bing, and several other search engines offer the ability to filter out adult content from the search results. Again, it is not a perfect solution, but it is better than nothing. Most search engines also allow you to lock these settings in the browser so that your kids can’t just turn it off.
These are just 3 easy ways to at least make it harder for your children to browse adult or dodgy websites. However, there are more complex methods that an IT professional could help you with. For instance, modify the local security policy so changes to internet related settings on the PC can only be made by an administrator. You need to find the balance between secure and convenient.