The internet can be a scary and dangerous place, especially for children. As a parent, there are a variety of tools at your disposal to monitor your child's internet usage. Using these tools can significantly lower the child's chances of encountering dangerous people or offensive content. Follow this guide for an easy way to start monitoring your family's online behavior.
Method 1 of 4: Using a web monitoring program
Step 1. Get a web monitoring program
A web monitoring program allows you to block a group of websites and specific web addresses. These programs usually allow you to set different levels of protection for different users, giving you more control over who can watch what within the family. Popular programs include:
- Just Nanny
- Norton Family
- K9 Web Protection
Step 2. Install the program on each computer
Most surveillance programs require you to pay or sign up to use them. You need a license for each computer you want to protect. When you purchase a web filter online, you will receive links where you can download the program.
- In general, these programs should be installed on each computer that you want to protect.
Step 3. Indicate which content you want to block
Most programs provide a list of categories that you check or uncheck to determine what you do or don't want to let through. You can also indicate specific sites that should not be accessible, or that you would like to be accessible.
- You will need to set these filters on each computer you install the software on.
- Filters are constantly updated by the companies that make these programs. Many use automated systems that search for new pages and automatically block them, even if the website is not yet in the database.
Step 4. Set the hours that the desired content is allowed to be available
Some programs allow you to specify specific times when content can be accessed. For example, you can disable access to social networks during homework hours so that kids don't waste their time on Facebook instead of studying.
Step 5. Monitor online behavior
Most programs create logs and notifications that show when inappropriate content tries to be accessed. Some programs even allow you to view your child's Facebook profile and all their photos and posts.
Method 2 of 4: Secure your entire network using OpenDNS
Step 1. Sign up for OpenDNS
OpenDNS is free for home use, and a more powerful version is available for businesses for a fee. OpenDNS is installed on your network's router and affects all network traffic. This means that websites are blocked on all devices connected to the router, including computers, tablets, game consoles and mobile phones.
OpenDNS blocks sites on any device, so it may not be as useful for parents who want to access blocked websites when the kids aren't around
Step 2. Open your router's configuration page
Most routers can be accessed by entering 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 into the address bar of a web browser on a device connected to the network. You may then be asked for your username and password.
- The router login address and default username and password combination will vary by manufacturer. If you can't access your router, check the default settings on RouterPasswords.com.
- If you are still unable to access your router due to a forgotten username or password, press the reset button on the router to reset it to factory settings. This will clear all network settings at once, including wireless network settings.
Step #3. Find your DNS settings
This is usually located in the internetsection of the router. Search for DNS accompanied by two or three fields in which you can enter the IP addresses. For most default settings, there are two options, although the exact wording may be different: “Get Automatically from ISP” and “Use These DNS Servers”. Select “Use These DNS Servers” so that you can enter the OpenDNS server details.
Step 4. Enter your DNS information
In the Primary and Secondary DNS fields, enter the following addresses:
Step 5. Click on Apply Changes or Save/Save
Once the settings have been updated, it is important to refresh the DNS on every computer connected to the network. That way you can be sure that your new settings will take effect immediately.
Step 6. Enable dynamic IP updates
Chances are that your internet connection at home is assigned a dynamic IP address by your internet provider. This means that your IP address will change from time to time. OpenDNS must be configured to update the settings when your IP address changes, otherwise the filtering will not work.
- Log in to your OpenDNS Dashboard with the username and password you were given when you signed up.
- Select your network in the Home or Settings tab. Click on Advanced Settings and go to the Dynamic IP Update section. Make sure the box labeled is checked and then click apply to save your settings.
- Download a dynamic IP from the OpenDNS Updater program. This program must be installed on a computer that your children cannot access so that it cannot be disabled. Ideally, this computer will always be on, or turn on before other computers connect.
Step 7. Set your filters
Once you've configured OpenDNS, you're ready to set up your filters. These filters block websites that meet certain criteria, such as pornography, exam fraud, social media, etc. You can filter out categories, set general layers of protection, block certain websites or only allow specific websites.
- Log in to the OpenDNS Dashboard. Select the network for which you want to adjust the filters. Click the Web Content Filtering link.
- Choose the level of the filter. You can choose from three layers of filtering: low, medium and high. OpenDNS will provide examples of what is filtered at each level.
- Set a custom filter. If you'd like to specify which filters you want to activate, click the Custom option and check each box that you want to activate. For example, check
- Add domains to your black or white list. In the manage individual domains section, you can add domains that you either want to always block or always allow, regardless of the filter settings. For example, you can turn on the Social Networking filter, but add “twitter.com” to the list of sites (Always Allowed) that should always be allowed so that Twitter can be used.
Step 8. Monitor which sites are viewed
Once you've activated the filters, you can monitor internet usage in your network to see if people are going to try to visit sites they aren't supposed to. To do this you will first need to make sure that Stat Logging is enabled. Log in to the Dashboard and click on the Settings tab. Check the box to enable stats and logs (“Enable stats and logs”) and click Apply.
Click on the Stats tab to view a log of your network. You can use the left menu to see which websites are visited and when. This way you will find out if your children are trying to access websites where they have no business
Method 3 of 4: Using Windows Family Safety
Step 1. Install the Family Safety Filter on each computer
The Family Safety Filter should be installed on every computer in your home that the child has access to. The Family Safety Filter is automatically installed under Windows 8, but may need to be downloaded for Windows 7. Earlier versions of Windows (XP, Vista, etc.) and other operating systems do not support it.
Step 2. Enable Family Safety on Windows 7
Open Family Safety and sign in with your Microsoft Account. To use Family Safety you need a Microsoft Account. When you log in for the first time, you create the primary parent account. This will be the administrator account for Family Safety, and the account that can change settings from the Family Safety website.
- If you want to install Family Safety on multiple computers, sign in with the Microsoft Account you were using in the first place.
- Check the box next to each account you want to check. Family Safety works best when each family member has their own account and all accounts are password protected. This is important because if someone switches to an account that is not protected by Family Safety, they will be able to access blocked content.
- Disable guest accounts as children can access blocked content by logging into the guest account. If you want to disable a guest account, search for "user accounts" using Windows search and select it from the results. Click Manage User Accounts and then Guest. Click on "Disable guest account".
- Check your settings. Once you've specified which accounts you'd like to check, you'll see an overview of all the accounts you've selected, as well as a link to the Family Safety website.
Step 3. Activate Family Safety on Windows 8
Family Safety is automatically enabled for all child accounts you create in Windows 8, as long as your administrator account is signed in with a Microsoft account. You can also enable Family Safety on standard accounts.
- To enable Family Safety on an existing account, open Settings and click Change PC settings. Open Accounts and then click Other accounts. Select the account you want to enable for Family Safety, and click Edit. Change the "Account Type" to child.
- Make sure all accounts are password protected so that a child cannot log in to another account to access blocked material.
Step 4. Log in to the Family Safety website
Once you have enabled Family Safety on all accounts, you can adjust the settings for each user through the Family Safety website. Sign in with the primary Microsoft Account.
Step 5. Select a user to change
Once you are logged in you will see a list of all users for whom you have enabled Family Safety. Select a user and you'll see options to filter websites, create reports of activity, set time limits, grant access when prompted, and set game and app restrictions.
- Filtering web content – In this section you can set the filter level for the user. Different levels allow different types of websites to pass, with the strongest filter at the top. You can choose to allow only specific sites, block all sites except those suitable for children, allow all general websites, allow social networks, or block nothing at all.
- List of web filter items – In this section you can designate specific sites that you always want to allow or always block.
- Activity reporting – You can set the activity reporting level for this account. Allows you to choose how much web browsing is tracked.
- To request – You can allow users to request to access blocked sites. You will then receive these requests and can choose whether or not to allow them.
- Time limits – Sets specific times when the user can interact with the PC. When this period has passed, the user will be logged out of the computer.
- Game and App restrictions – In this section you can indicate specific games and apps installed on your computer that you do not want the user to access. This is useful if you have adult games installed that you don't want your kids to play with.
Method 4 of 4: Modifying the hosts file
Step 1. Edit the hosts file in Windows
The hosts file allows you to block access to websites on the computer you are using. It works for all accounts on that computer. Modifying a host file will block a website, but will not provide additional options such as browsing behavior tracking or time limits. Technical users may be able to modify the host file and bypass the block.
- Go to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and double click on it. Use Notepad to open the file when prompted to choose a program.
- Place your cursor at the bottom of the document. Create a blank line between your starting point and the end of the existing text.
- feed 127.0.0.1 and press Enter. Replace with the website you want to block (facebook.com, youtube.com, etc.).
- Enter another line with the same information except that you enter “www.” before the name of the website. Essentially, you now have two listings per website that you want to block: 127.0.0.1 facebook.com AND 127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com.
- Repeat for each website you want to block.
- Save the file. Do not change the name, file type, or location of the file. Just save the changes you've made. You may need to restart your browser for the changes to take effect.
Step 2. Edit the hosts file on a Mac
The hosts file allows you to block websites on the computer you are using. It works for all accounts on that computer.
- Launch the Terminal, which can be found in the Utilities folder.
- Back up the hosts file by entering the following command and pressing Enter:
sudo /bin/cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts-original. You may need to enter your administrator password.
- Edit the hosts file. To edit the hosts file you will need to open it in Nano with the following command:
sudo nano /etc/hosts/. This will open the Nano window and display the text of the hosts file.
- Start on a new line at the bottom of the file. type 127.0.0.1 and press Enter. Replace with the website you want to block (facebook.com, youtube.com, etc.).
- Type another line with the same data, except this time you type “www.” add before the name of the website. Essentially, you now have two listings per website that you want to block: 127.0.0.1 facebook.com AND 127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com.
- Repeat this procedure for each website you want to block.
- Save your changes by pressing Ctrl + O. Once the changes are saved, press Ctrl + X to exit Nano.
- Clear the DNS. Use the command
sudo dscacheutil –flush cacheto clear the DNS and reset your DNS and load the new settings. Your browser should now block the websites you specified in the hosts file.
Step 3. Repeat these steps on each computer you want to protect
The downside of the hosts file method is that this file will have to be modified on every computer you want to protect. If there are many computers connected to your network, this may not be feasible.