So you want to know how to block Facebook (or any other site) at home. You probably don’t want to install software on each computer either. You want an easy to use solution, that is somewhat harder for kids to get around.
You don’t have to install any software
What? You mean that I can set it up once and forget about it?
Yes, there are a number of options that allow you to setup filtering at the router level, meaning that all devices on your home network will go through the filter.
With OpenDNS you don’t have to install software on each computer, and it will also block access through your WiFi (iPods, iPads etc…).
Each household is unique, so OpenDNS gives you flexibility in blocking Internet content. We divide the Internet’s millions of websites neatly into 56 categories, like “adult,” “games,” “academic fraud” and “social media.” Parents can block entire categories of content, or just choose to block the individual websites that you know are problematic or unsafe for your family. Or, for easier setup, you can choose a filtering level: low, medium or high. The low filtering level blocks just adult content, where the high filtering level blocks adult content, social networking sites, video-sharing sites and more.
Some NetGear Routers have a feature called Live Parental Controls (LPC). These use the OpenDNS service behind the scenes, but have some further features such as time based filtering. This is really useful if you want your kids to be able to access sites during certain times, but not others (like when they’re supposed to be doing homework).
There is some software to install if you want the time based bypass features. It’s pretty straight forward, and isn’t needed on every computer. You’ll only need to install it on any computer that you want to use a bypass account on.
What About Mobile Phones?
If your kids have their own mobile phone with a data plan you are probably out of luck. Most Aussie phone plans have “free” or very large data limits on social networking sites, so it’s probably not costing them (you) any money. But because the internet connection on the phone is straight through the phone network you have no control over it.
If they are using WiFi then the above options will work, but it won’t take them long to work out that if they turn off WiFi then they can connect to all their favourite sites again.
What If My Kids Know All About This Already?
Of course there are a few ways to get around these type of filters. Simply (for some) setting the DNS servers on that your computer looks for to some other service (Google provides a free DNS service) will completely bypass any setting you have setup with OpenDNS
If your kids are all over this topic and could tell you 5 ways to get around the block that you have setup, then you’re probably past a technological solution. At some point the best way to keep you kids safe online is through education.
Teaching them the dangers of creating sites and the importance of online safety is just as important these days as stranger danger was when we were kids.
You can setup some of the above options, but instead of actively blocking access to sites, simply monitor the logs and keep an eye on what your kids are up to and bring it up with them if there are any sites in the list that you would prefer they didn’t go to.