I need a kid friendly Mac-based web browser
April 24, 2009 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Which web browser with parenting controls for a Mac?

We recently bought the girls (aged 6 and 4) an iMac. By default, we installed Safari as their web browser because it seems to have pretty decent parental controls. However, since it doesn't allow favicons, the girls (well, really, the younger one), is having a difficult time finding the sites because she can't read the bookmark bar.

I have Firefox on my Macbook and know that depending on the skins, you can see the favicons. Unfortunately, though, I've not been able to find any decent parental control scripts on Greasemonkey. Granted I'm a total dork and only installed Greasemonkey on my computer so I could install the Meta deleted thread script, so maybe I'm not looking in the right place.

Right now, the current protocol is for the girls to come running to find us any time they want to go to a new website. And it is getting old. Quickly. So, while Sophie is learning to read at a frightening pace, maybe somebody can provide insight sooner? :)

posted by dancinglamb to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and for whatever it's worth, Safari isn't allowing me to change the homepage. Right now I'm stuck with a really obnoxious page that I can't get rid of. The option to change it is greyed out even with the Admin password entered. If anybody has insight on that, I would *greatly* appreciate that!
posted by dancinglamb at 6:01 AM on April 24, 2009

BumperCar for OSX.

I have a seven year old and we use it all the time. Every parental control you can think of. It's nice.
posted by unixrat at 6:15 AM on April 24, 2009

Glims is a safari add-on that puts favicons in the tabs, among many other useful features (search completion, alternate search engines, restore tabs after closing, full screen mode, etc)
posted by bengarland at 7:00 AM on April 24, 2009

As an aside, if you want to keep Safari, how about making a custom homepage for them? Then you can use big, colorful icons for their favorite websites.
posted by nitsuj at 7:05 AM on April 24, 2009

A plugin like Glims will add favicons to the bookmarks bar, FWIW
posted by misterbrandt at 7:07 AM on April 24, 2009

The firefox addon Glubble shows some promise,although it's starting to take a turn towards a family portal,which honestly isn't it's strength.

But you don't have to use it that way, you can create a prepopulated "home page" of sites that your kids can access. If they want to see a site outside of that range they still need to get permission, but this is automated and I don't see any other way to get around this. The web, after all is about hyperlinks . .

One warning, I did have to spend some time culling the default sites they put on the kids home page, a lot of commercial junk sites are present . . .
posted by jeremias at 7:08 AM on April 24, 2009

I guess at 6 and 4 they probably won't just load an alternative browser and end up bypassing your carefully thought out controls. However, is there a broader solution at the OS level which would control all internet activity?
posted by caddis at 7:44 AM on April 24, 2009

Here are some links for putting OS X into kiosk mode, although some of them are pretty dated.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:15 AM on April 24, 2009

I just installed Kidzui on my PC at home and have been playing with it. It looks pretty darn amazing, and the free version seems to be good enough for most any parent's needs.

The Kidzui browser only goes to websites, videos and games that have been reviewed as kid-safe and acceptable by parents. Their library currently tops a million sites. They have a monitored internal community, you can add specific sites such as schools and the parental controls look like they're pretty tweakable.

You can make individual accounts/avatars for each of your children. The site will even email you weekly with a detailed list and graph of your kids' online activities so you can keep track of their interests. For free.

My kids are too small to surf the net, but I intend to install this or something like it as soon as they start wrecking playing with my computer. :)
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on April 24, 2009

Response by poster: zarq - So, Zidzui is actually a Firefox add-on? I looked around on their site and it doesn't seem to give that much information without actually downloading the program. I'm not sure that I necessarily want a fullscreen program because they like to go in between the internet, a drawing game and yes, believe it or not, Spore Creature Creator.

I happen to have no love for Safari (maybe it's just because I'm so used to Firefox), so I'd shed no tears if I could get away from it. But if all else fails, we can do the Glims add-on. Thanks!

As far as the kiosk stuff and family portal, well, that's totally over my head. Mr. dancinglamb is the resident Mac nerd. I will have to have him look at the thread tonight.

Oh, and BumperCar looks interesting, but I want to see if I can find some freeware first. Unixrat, I appreciate the personal recommendation (especially since you have a kiddo in the age group).
posted by dancinglamb at 11:34 AM on April 24, 2009

Oh, and BumperCar looks interesting, but I want to see if I can find some freeware first. Unixrat, I appreciate the personal recommendation (especially since you have a kiddo in the age group).

Eh, it's only $29.95. I figured it was a fine time/cost trade-off.

DL the demo, it's 14-day (or 30, I don't recall). It's worth it.
posted by unixrat at 12:34 PM on April 24, 2009

To change your Safari homepage, quit Safari, go to Users/YourName/Library/Preferences and scroll down to


Then, drag that to the trash.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:48 PM on April 24, 2009

I'd second the custom homepage option, though it would take some work (or help). Here's the one I made for our kids (though links may not be current), with Safari only allowing these and related domains. My youngest was geeking out at three. The icons helped a lot. He's almost five now, though, and reads better than our six year old.
posted by pzarquon at 1:18 AM on April 25, 2009

Sorry for my delay in responding.

The Kidzui browser is a standalone program. There is also a version which is an add-on for Firefox. Both *do* function in full screen mode, but both can be taken out of it by entering a parental password into options / preferences.

However, one could easily open the other applications in the background and teach your child(ren) to use alt-Tab or daisy-tab to move between programs. If the option wasn't there, that's what I'd do in your place.

More here from Lifehacker.

Good luck! :)
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on April 28, 2009

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