Safe and Savvy: The Best Internet and Phone Filters of 2018
By Courtney Cagle
The internet is a wonderful and useful tool, but it can also be dangerous. As parents, it’s important to teach your children about the wonders available on the internet AND the dangers. Filters help to protect our kids in a world where the porn industry, social media, and google are watching our kids and targeting them based on their browsing habits. However, these filters can’t replace conversations about pornography, online safety, social media, and media literacy. Both are important to protect and educate children.
Recently, I was doing a project for one of my classes where I had to find pictures of women who were of various ethnicities. I googled “Asian women” and to my surprise, porn came up–front and center. I was just trying to do a school project and I innocently searched for a picture of Asian women. I called my husband in and told him to put as many filters on my computer as possible because I definitely don’t want porn showing up on my computer. We soon realized there are many great filters out there that parents can use to make sure their children don’t accidentally stumble upon porn or straight up search for it. Filtering software and routers do more than just block pornography and this varies with each system.
Free Filtering Software:
K9 Web Protection – K9 is a great filtering software that is available for free. It is small and easy to install. It blocks websites in more than 70 categories and offers a SafeSearch feature. You can also set time restrictions, customize what is allowed and blocked, generate reports, and categorize new adult content and sites in real time. K9 offers the best parental controls and filters for a free software. It is available for PC and Mac (K9 Web Protection Features).
Qustodio – This is a browser-based filtering software that is great for filtering pornography, blocking websites, preventing cyberbullying, monitoring social media, and tracking smartphones. Help and tech support are not wonderful, but if you don’t think you’ll be needing much tech support, you should be fine. It is available for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices. The basic version is available free, but you can also upgrade to a more advanced version for a fee (Johnston, 2018), (Marshall & Ellis, 2018).
KidLogger – This software tracks what your children type, the website they have visited, programs they use, and screenshots they take. You choose what to monitor and can change it depending on the age of your child. This software only works on one device (Marshall & Ellis, 2018).
Filtering Softwares Available For Purchase:
Net Nanny – This filtering system was rated #1 on TopTenReviews. It filters pornography, questionable chat rooms, and hate sites. You can also create a custom whitelist and blacklist that override the automated filter. Net Nanny is easy to use and walks you through installation step-by-step. It is cloud-based and activity logs can be pulled up from any device. If you have any problems, they have extensive help and support networks available. Social media monitoring is not included in the basic service, but is available with the purchase of Net Nanny Social. Overall, Net Nanny has the most comprehensive and effective internet safety tools. It is available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices (Johnston, 2018).
McAfee – Many know this as an anti-virus software, but they also have filtering services. McAfee offers a website blocker, pornography filter, cyberbullying protector, and social media monitor, complete with near-comprehensive support options and user-friendly software . If you prefer to monitor your child’s chat and messaging activity rather than block sites, you can read conversations or save them for later. This software will send you text messages if there are questionable websites accessed. It is available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices (Johnston, 2018).
Witigo – A filtering software that allows parents to block content in 27 categories, including pornography and violence. It blocks chat and messenger programs including social media and gaming network chats. It is a tricky program to install, but once installed, it’s easy to use. It has a cloud-based and local filtering system. You can download it to monitor one PC or you can choose the online version to filter and monitor several devices, like phones. There is a whitelist that enables you to allow a website it may have filtered out. It is also has a blacklist where you can add websites you want to be blocked if they are deemed appropriate and you think otherwise. Witigo redirects kids to a kid-friendly sites rather than sending an alert that a site has been blocked, which causes them less frustration and creates a more enjoyable experience (Johnston, 2018).
Norton Family – This is a great filtering software for pornography, website blocking, and monitoring social media activity. However, it doesn’t monitor online chat conversations or webcam sessions, like some others do. Norton uses a browser-based platform and enables parents to check their child’s activity from any computer. Installation has to be performed on the device itself and is user-friendly. This software supports Windows and Android devices, but is not available for iOS mobile devices or Mac computers (Johnston, 2018).
Surfie by PureSight – Surfie offers social media monitoring, website filtering, chat room filtering, time control, and file sharing controls. You can put in specific keywords that you want to monitor in chat rooms and once they are used, it will send you a notification. You can also block contacts from messaging your children, which can help prevent cyberbullying. Surfie is easy-to-use and simple to set up. You can also opt in to email alerts and receive comprehensive reports of all activity online. It is available for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices (Johnston, 2018).
Covenant Eyes – This is a great software that gives every user an individual username to tailor it to their needs. A report is available for each device that the software is installed on making sure that everyone has internet accountability. Covenant Eyes offers customizable filtering to fit the needs of every family member. It also allows for the internet to be inaccessible at certain times of the day (Family Protection).
Free Filter at a Router Level:
OpenDNS Family Shield – This service has automatic parental control tools that block domains under headings that you chose. OpenDNS works on PCs, mobile devices, and your network router. If you filter at the router level, all devices on the network will benefit (Marshall & Ellis, 2018).
Filtering at a Router Level For Purchase:
Circle With Disney – (EEK’s favorite choice–no we do not receive any payment for saying so.) This device connects to your network and has parental controls to filter the whole network. After you purchase the hardware, you download an app and follow the simple set-up instructions. The filter is controlled through this app once it is all set up. With Circle, you control which devices have access to the internet and at what time. The internet can be paused on a certain device or on the whole network. Filters can be customized based on the age of each family member. Circle is a great device for filtering the whole network (Best Parental Control Router, 2018).
KoalaSafe – This is an easy-to-use device that connects to your existing network. It comes with an app that allows you to access the filter and parental controls. KoalaSafe offers time limits and internet restrictions. You can also monitor apps and websites that have been viewed or accessed. This is a great option for those who have a router and want to connect to the existing network (Best Parental Control Router, 2018).
These filtering systems will help to keep your children safe, but only as a first defense. Nothing can replace the power of conversation with your kids about the dangers of the internet and about pornography. For tips on how to start the conversation, check out our book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography.
It’s important to help your children understand that technology can be useful and good as well. To teach your kids how to use technology for good, check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good.
Courtney is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.
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(2018, January 03). Best Parental Control Router 2018 – Top Rated. Reviewed And Compared. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from http://bestwirelessroutersnow.com/best-parental-control-router/
Family Protection | Internet Safety Software. (n.d.). Retrieved June 8, 2018, from http://www.covenanteyes.com/family/
Johnston, N. (2018, February 04). The Best Internet Filter Software of 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from http://www.toptenreviews.com/software/security/best-internet-filter-software/
Marshall, C., & Ellis, C. (2018, May 22). The best free parental control software 2018. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from https://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-parental-control-software
Symantec Corporation. (2010). K9 Web Protection. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from http://www1.k9webprotection.com/