OpenDNS should be the first-line of defense for a protected home network. There are many posts already on the SCP website about the benefits and use of OpenDNS.  I generally recommend using OpenDNS Home, which gives parents the ability to customize the levels or categories of filtering controls. There are times when that kind of customization is not necessary and if a device is not always connected to your network at home those settings cannot travel with it. OpenDNS Family Shield, however, offers protection without the need to be connected to your home network.

With OpenDNS Home, you set up an account that periodically “checks in” with your home network to make sure that the custom settings you have chosen are being enforced when a device from your network uses the internet. OpenDNS Family Shield settings are pre-configured to block domains in four categories: Tasteless, Proxy/Anonymizer, Sexuality, or Pornography. But because the settings are not custom, the device does not have to be connected to your network to be able to use OpenDNS Family Shield.

Below is a link to a page from OpenDNS that gives detailed instructions about setting up Family Shield on a variety of computer operating systems. The important thing to note is that the DNS server numbers used must be 208.67.222.123 and 208.67.220.123, even if the picture in their example is different. OpenDNS Home uses different DNS servers than Family Shield. Any device that uses the server numbers above will be using OpenDNS Family Shield and domains that OpenDNS has identified as being in those categories will be blocked.

Parents need to understand that if a website is not categorized as pornography it could still provide access to pornographic images. For example, Facebook.com is not a pornographic website/app and would not be blocked, but if someone posts a pornographic image to Facebook then it could be seen. Even though pornography violates Facebook terms of use, it can still be a problem.

It is possible to set it manually on an iPhone/iPad but the setting must be set individually for each network and will not be in effect for cellular data. Apple still hasn’t added global DNS control for iPhone and iPad (link for feedback to Apple below). That setting change would be one of the best things they could do to protect kids as long as they add an option to disable control of it under the restrictions settings. Until then, there are some apps that can allow parents to take advantage of OpenDNS Family shield on their kids phones and tablets. Links to those are also listed below.

Please keep in mind that a tech-savvy kid with the desire to get around these settings could easily access most DNS settings locations if they have access to an administrative level account on a computer. These settings are designed to protect accidental exposure, the most common way kids are first exposed to pornography. It’s that first exposure that can lead to a pattern of them seeking it out.

DNS Override for iOS

Google Play link for Android devices

Computer Configuration for Family Shield

iPhone/iPad Configuration for Family Shield (must be set for each network)

Suggest that Apple add a Global Device DNS setting (and include a restrictions setting to disallow changes)

Find more in: Android, Apple, Filtering, OpenDNS, Parental Controls

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