Parents always worry about their children accessing explicit sites on the Internet in their absence. There are software’s that can be installed to block children from accessing explicit sites. However, these only work on laptops and not on mobile devices or tablets and when kids become older, they may find ways to circumvent the software.
Another option you may consider is a filtered DNS service. The benefit of using a filtered DNS service is that it applies to all devices in your home, including mobile phones and tablets.
[Okay, this will not stop your kids from accessing these sites on their mobile phone when they’re away from home. And eventually when they are older and start teaching you about technology, then this will definitely not work!]
So how does one use a filtered DNS? And what on earth is a DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name Service. It’s the phone book of the Internet.
When you type in a web address on your desktop, laptop or tablet, say www.yahoo.com, your devices sends the Yahoo address to your home router (also known as the modem – the black device with blinking lights connected to your telephone line) which then looks up the location of the phone book at your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and checks and sees what Yahoo’s IP address is and then goes and fetches data from Yahoo and send its back to your computer. Nearly all ISP’s have a copy of the Internet’s phone book which is usually refreshed every 30 minutes. And their copy of the phone book has nearly all the web address of all the websites in the world. [I say nearly all the addresses since some countries like China and in the Middle East block certain websites from the citizens.]
When you sign up for a filtered DNS service, like the one provided by OpenDNS, you are basically using a phone book which has been filtered for explicit adult sites, phishing sites, scamming sites, gambling sites and other sites deemed not appropriate for minors.
Setting up a filtered DNS through services like OpenDNS is easy and free. OpenDNS has a family option which is free. And they provide eay setup guidelines for your devices.
As you can see from below, if your children have their own computer, you can setup the filtered DNS on their machine alone. Or if you prefer to have everyone covered, you can setup the filtered DNS on your home router. This protects everyone in your home from accidentally bumping into explicit adult content sites, phishing and scamming sites and online gambling sites.
There are other sites that also provide similar services, like Comodo Secure DNS, Dyn Internet Guide, FoolDNS, Greenteam DNS and many more.
I believe that filtering DNS at the router level is a more un-obstructive protection mechanism than at the computer level for young children. Children learn how to tinker with computers in school but I have yet to see a school which teaches them how to work their home routers 🙂