Parental control software
July 23, 2016 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Please give me your best suggestions for parental control software.

I have kids and they keep getting into content I don't want them in. Some of the content is just inappropriate and some is more serious. They are in the 8-12 range and seem to figure out how to get around any safety filters and then put it back in place.

I am looking for software to help with managing this.

I am not looking for recommendations on how to parent or how to follow up with them. They have disabilities and that discussion and the relation to parenting styles for this is far too complicated. So please keep answers to technology. I feel very good about the open discussions I have with my kids. But, at a certain point, I need to be responsible about protecting them from content that may, in fact, negatively interact with existing vulnerabilities.

I have blocked a few things at the server level, but it gets reset every time I call tech support for a problem with my router or connection speed. So I'd like something more permanent.

Kids are smart and do things like turn the filter/parental control off, look for what they want, and then turn it back on.

I'm a single parent and not flush with cash, so I'd like something relatively affordable. It needs to work on multiple PCs and iPads.

I'm not tech illiterate, but would like something easy enough to understand and manage.

I didn't see a relevant post, so please feel free to point me to something if you are aware of a discussion here before.

posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The new "circle" by Disney. It lets you control all the devices at the router. You have control of EVERYTHING for each device in your house on your smartphone. I love it! Kids don't but that's the point.
posted by pearlybob at 9:18 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

> I have blocked a few things at the server level, but it gets reset every time I call tech support for a problem with my router or connection speed.

Your own router that sits between your network and the ISP-provided modem would fix this, and you could switch to a proactive whitelist of allowed sites rather then a reactive blacklist to prevent them from visiting new sites you haven't thought to block.
posted by bizwank at 12:19 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding bizwank, you're going to have to cut off traffic at the router.

The higher-end Netgear wifi routers have a parental control system that routes everything through a 3rd party DNS server (OpenDNS FamilyShield), which means there's nothing to install or maintain on the phones/computers.

You then configure the OpenDNS account to decide what is allowed and what is not. It's not foolproof. If your kids can install a VPN or Tor, they can get by. But it will cover a large portion of what you're looking for.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:28 PM on July 23, 2016

I forgot to add, make sure the router is physically secured; if your kids can get to it they can push the reset button and reconfigure it without the parental controls, and you probably won't notice until the next time you log into it.
posted by bizwank at 12:36 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you change the DNS settings on the kid's PC won't that take precedence over the router settings? You could change the kid's PC to use Open DNS then use parental controls there to control content. It won't matter what Comcast or whoever does to the router. Bonus for this approach is that it's free.

I might be wrong about that but I'm fairly certain back when I had Comcast I did this to route around Comcast's DNS servers to use Google.
posted by COD at 12:45 PM on July 23, 2016

Thanks. Disney Circle sounds like what I want, but you can't get it in Canada and the app isn't on the Canadian app store either.

These routers sound promising, but the blocking would be limited to my home and wouldn't work if they go to a coffee shop. But they might be a good choice anyway.

Will any of these things keep them off the bad parts of YouTube? Every time I turn around, my kids are watching Let's Plays of horrible things.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 2:24 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

If they have access to mobile networks you have to secure the device or the kid's access to the mobile network. Others may have suggestions about this.

HOWEVER If kids are going to coffee shops presumably they have friends? With unsecured access? This is a broader question.
posted by lalochezia at 10:43 AM on July 24, 2016

Thanks. I meant more that they might tap into the coffee shop from home, as we live in the City. :)
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:34 AM on July 28, 2016

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