Free Kid-Friendly Filtering
By Katelyn King
I continue to be amazed by the ever evolving world of technology. It seems crazy how my “real life” is merging closer every day with my “online life.” I remember my excitement when I got started with Myspace and Facebook as a teenager. You’d think I would be used to this evolution and merging by now. But the speed of change in our tech-driven world can be intimidating–even to millennials.
As a mom with two young children, I find myself worrying about what my children will grow up with. When is it okay for them to jump into this digital world? But the truth is that our young children are already living in the digital world. Even if we don’t buy them tablets or gaming devices they are constantly surrounded. They see our smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming devices and most of us even have our TVs connected to the internet.
We need to stop being afraid of our kids living and interacting in the digital world. I’m not saying give them free reign at a young age, but there is so much good in the digital world and I want my kids to embrace it!
In the meantime, there are a lot of great FREE resources to help protect our younger children.
Although nothing can be quite as effective as parental supervision, here are six resources to help you keep kids digitally safe.
YouTube has great educational videos and fun shows and videos for your kids, which is awesome. However, one problem is that YouTube automatically loads another video when the current video finishes. If you are not paying attention, a video you may not want your child to watch will start to play. This has happened to me. To solve this problem there is YouTube Kids! It’s a great app that filters content and you can even set a time limit. Download the YouTube Kids app and look at the YouTube Kids Parental Guide to change settings.
- Netflix Settings
Netflix has a system where you can set age appropriate suggested shows and movies to be on your browsing menu. You can also create different profiles for you and your individual children. To do this, go to the account summary page and select Manage Profiles. You can give each one a name and choose from three age options: adults, for older kids and below, and for little children only. This option does not filter what your children can watch, but it limits what kinds of shows are suggested. If your kids know how to use the search feature in Netflix, they can still look up anything on Netflix.
Netflix does have a PIN system that can stop anyone without the PIN from viewing shows and movies with certain ratings. To use this feature, go to the account summary page and select Parental Controls. In this menu, you set your PIN and select which ratings the PIN will apply to.
- Amazon Prime Settings
There are a lot of great shows on Amazon Prime. There are also a lot of shows you do not want your kids to click on. Sometimes an inappropriate show will have an appealing name and your child won’t realize they are clicking on something that they shouldn’t. But Amazon Prime has a setting where you can set rating limits and create a PIN that needs to be entered for anything higher than your setting to watch. This feature can be accessed in the settings menu through Preferences. Inside this menu you can set up your filtering preferences with parental controls.
Amazon Prime has also have teamed up with a group called VidAngel that plays clean versions of shows and movies. This feature does cost more though.
- Browsing Filters
Our children want to be able to search the web and we want to make sure they are safe. So filters are a must! There are some amazing free filters out there that help block porn and set time limits. Some of these filters are Qustodio, OpenDNS, Family Shield, Kidlogger, Spyrix Free Keylogger, and Zoodles. Here is an article that summarizes the advantages of these programs and links to download them.
- Safe Search Engines
Our young children often need to do research for school and even for things they just want to learn more about. Sometimes during these searches, they will have a link or ad pop up that is not appropriate. Google has a great children’s search engine called Kiddle. It helps filter out things you do not want your children to see and has articles targeted for younger ages.
Another great google search tool is Google SafeSearch. It “filters sexually explicit videos and images from all Google search results, as well as anything that may link externally to explicit material” (McKenna, 2016). Here is an article that explains how to set it up. Some other safe search engines that are available are KidRex and Junior Safe Search.
Even with all of the available resources, we as parents need to be vigilant. We need to spend time talking to our children about what they are doing online and monitoring their activity. We can set an example by showing them great websites that educate, uplift and inspire. We can do our best to keep up with the latest technology that can keep our kids safe and facilitate learning. We can help them learn which websites have helpful, informative information and how to avoid dangerous or useless information.
Just as we were taught to be good, decent “citizens,” we need to help our children become true digital citizens in our digital world. And filtering their devices at a young age can be a huge help in healthy internet usage. By protecting their young, undeveloped brains and only allowing them to consume the best of media, we are giving our kids a huge advantage in the world.
As they get older, they will be exposed to potentially harmful information and imagery, so ongoing dialogues are a must. Help them know what to do when exposed to unhealthy media and encourage them to come to you to when they do see something inappropriate. For more ideas and conversation starters, check out How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography and our 30 Days of Sex Talks series.
Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.
Marshall, G. (2017, August 02). The best free parental control software 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017, from http://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-parental-control-software
McKenna, Chris. How to Set Up Google SafeSearch. (2016, June 22). Retrieved August 20, 2017, from http://www.covenanteyes.com/2016/06/13/setup-google-safesearch/
YouTube Kids Parental Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2017, from https://support.google.com/youtubekids/?visit_id=1-636388596481353102-115656554&hl=en&rd=1#topic=6130504