Networking

OpenDNS FamilyShield helps protect kids online

Today’s iPhones and Macs come with a very elaborate set of parental controls to help keep your children out of harm’s way, but when it comes to browsing the Web itself, it’s still all or nothing. Either you have to depend on a software package that slowly runs through every single thing that your child sees online, or keep your children restricted to a fixed list of Websites that you have to manage on your own.

Fortunately, the folks that brought you OpenDNS have made another option. OpenDNS FamilyShield privacy controls leave the porn and scam site blocking to the folks at OpenDNS, and it’s as just easy to set up as the company’s flagship services. All you have to do is add two IP addresses to your DNS settings and you’re done. If you need more help, OpenDNS will walk you through the process every step of the way as you follow the instructions on its Website.

Once set up, OpenDNS FamilyShield invisibly blocks phishing sites and sites with adult content. Because children are clever by nature, OpenDNS has also taken the extra precaution of blocking access to proxy browsers and anonymizing Websites that would otherwise get around OpenDNS’s built-in protection.

If you’d like finer control over what your kids can see online, that can be done through an OpenDNS Basic account, which is fairly easy to set up and comes at no extra charge.

This system isn’t bulletproof; the protections it grants are only as good as your operating system. Your kids can potentially get around FamilyShield in Mac OS X by changing your DNS settings, if you haven’t taken the necessary steps to keep your kids from changing settings in System Preferences. Fortunately, that can be easily fixed by following Christopher Breen’s instructions on creating a controlled account and setting up other parental controls on Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

However, on iOS, there’s no easy workaround. As Apple has yet to introduce a feature that restricts access to the Settings app for iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads, you’ll either have to have faith that your children won’t poke around your network settings, or rely on completely disabling access to Safari from iOS’s restrictions settings.

OpenDNS FamilyShield and OpenDNS Basic are both free. They work on virtually any device that can connect to the Internet.

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