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Parents need to understand that when we put technology into our kids’ hands we also need to accept responsibility for protecting them and that there might be costs associated with that. However, some of the best ways to protect your family devices are free. I always recommend a layered approach to protection and these free options also happen to be the foundation layers. Start with these before you decide on any premium services you might want to use.
Built-in Controls – Most devices now come with at least some level of parental controls or restrictions settings and they are improving all the time. Take advantage of those and add additional controls as necessary. See the manufacturer’s website support information to find out how to control your devices, but here are links that might be helpful: SCP page with information about several game systems, Apple iOS Restrictions, Samsung Galaxy Kids Mode.
CleanBrowsing – This link will take you to a truly great service started by a concerned parent in the technology field. Like OpenDNS mentioned below it is my opinion that every family router should have one of these two services on them. It can also be set on an individual device as well.
OpenDNS – This link will take you SCP posts on this important addition to any router. Having OpenDNS settings on your router is useful for general network protection and performance even if you don’t use it to block graphic content. Like CleanBrowsing the OpenDNS family shield can be set up on an individual device for added protection.
Sophos – Sophos has been providing IT professionals with security products for years and they have put together a cloud-based Mac or PC option for home users that is free for up to 3 computers. To make it even better, in addition to content filtering it also protects from malware (viruses, scam programs, ransomware). Administration of the product can be done through a browser from any location. The premium version which protects up to 10 devices with added features is reasonably priced at $45 per year.
DNS Override – This link will take you to the SCP post about DNS Override. It is a free way to control the DNS settings on a mobile device. DNS is like the phone book of the internet and can be used as a first-line of defense against pornographic or other undesirable content. You can even choose OpenDNS as the DNS choice. You can also pay a one-time charge of $2.00 to force the settings on the device, still practically free!
Check back to this page in the future to see if any more FREE options have been added.