Filtering the Internet
So your kids just got a new device. Maybe it was a gift, a hand-me-down or they saved for months to get it. Once connected, all the information they could want (and more) is at their fingertips.
Sound scary? Here are some ways to filter the content they can access.
Warning: Be sure to inform family members before they are being monitored. Hiding protections from them until trouble arises will create distrust.
One of the best ways to filter the content they intentionally or unintentionally access is to filter all the content on your home network.
Disney’s Circle makes filtering content very easy. To use the Circle you will add it to your network. Then you choose what ages of content are allowed and for which devices. The Circle takes care of the rest!
There is another entrant to this market called the KoalaSafe and although it’s hard to get information from their site this is a good competitor. Similarly they group content by age and focus on restricting time. The major difference is that Disney’s circle makes all content go through the Circle (which can slow down devices) and KoalaSafe creates a new and separate wifi network for the filtered content.
There are other competitors in this space but I wouldn’t recommend them because they are either too expensive (monthly subscriptions) or don’t do effective filtering.
Both options have features that automatically filter adult content and can be personalized for your preferences. They both allow you to set time limits and restrict specific applications and communications like texting, facebook or snapchat.
Pros: These two options are a great way protect your home network, no matter what device is connected to it. They are both very easy to use with a lot of features.
Cons: Doesn’t work when devices are off your network. For instance, if your family joins a neighbor’s wifi or uses the cell signal to browse. To close this gap consider pairing the Circle with Disney’s Circle Go, it’s a mobile app that will filter all the time. The downside of using Circle Go is that it slows internet usage way down. Make sure you try it out and return it if you don’t like it (Apple app store allows returns for 24 hours).
An option for techies
If you’re comfortable administering your home router there are some more cost-effective options.
Your router is the device that distributes wifi in your house (and in some cases, corded connections as well). The manufacturers that include content filtering include Netgear, Linksys, Luma. BestBuy has an option to see all routers with parental controls here.
All these options have pros and cons, but none of them look as good or as easy as Disney Circle. Netgear’s administration screens look pretty good and seem easy to use. Linksys has a terrible looking interface. Reviews of Luma note that it isn’t so great at blocking content right now, basically because of the way it blocks sites by DNS addresses which change regularly.
Just another note that most routers use a system called OpenDNS to block sites which most people say isn’t very effective.
Pros: Inexpensive option
Cons: Not very effective and more complicated to setup
None of these options is %100 effective, and nothing can replace great parental guidance and co-browsing. Make sure you always stay in touch with how your family is using their devices. Use with caution and always be testing!
I’m going to keep blogging about this topic, so if you’re interested in learning more about protecting your family, subscribe!