A few decades ago, children would gather in front of the TV to watch cartoons, or go to the movies with their parents to watch the latest blockbuster. In the digital age driven by the Internet and ever-changing technologies such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, today’s kids no longer have to wait for their favorite TV shows or movies to air at certain times.
At the touch of a button on a child’s smartphone or tablet, they can access and watch almost any TV show or movie, listen to music, play video games and much more.
However, behind all these conveniences lies the danger of cyberattacks, online bullying, and exposure of explicit or disturbing content, which is a problem for any parent.
Luckily, you can block sites with free parental control software and prevent kids from accessing sites and apps that they shouldn’t have access to. Read on to learn how to do this on your child’s device or home network.
What is parental control software?
Parental control software helps protect children from using their devices by limiting the time they use their screens, blocking inappropriate content, and preventing them from using any dangerous sites or apps.
They also help children learn to appreciate good habits of using devices. However, it is important that you let them know why you want to install such software on their devices so that they know that you respect their privacy. This way, they won’t rummage through their gadgets looking for ways to bypass any security measures you’ve put in place to block sites.
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Previously, parental controls were set up with a single utility on the family computer to keep kids safer and more productive. Today, the number of connected devices in the home, from smartphones to tablets, laptops, game consoles and more, can be overwhelming for parents.
Some parental control utilities can work on an unlimited number of devices, but not all of them offer this for free. Also, if you can’t implement them on every device in your home, you can use a broader network-wide solution like Open DNS and others. These devices filter content at the router level so that your settings apply to all devices on your home network.
However, you will not get granular control and detailed monitoring on every device with OpenDNS, as with the parental control utility.
How to block sites with Windows 10 Parental Controls
If your kids have access to a PC, parental controls in Windows 10 allows you to block sites and restrict Internet access, as well as monitor email exchanges, view detailed logs and chat features.
In the area of ??Windows Family Safety in Windows 10, you can create an account or sign in to an existing one, access any Windows device, and create a child account that you can regulate and control.
Some of the parental controls that come with this feature include reports on app or game usage, web searches, browser history and screen time, content restrictions, blocking inappropriate apps and websites, tracking what your kids are buying , and even their locations.
How to set up and use parental controls in Windows 10
How to set up and use Windows 10 parental controls
Click Start> Settings and select Accounts.
Select Family & Others in the left pane of the Accounts window.
If your child does not have an account on your computer, click Add Family Member.
If your child has an email account, enter it in the email field below and click Next. If the child does not have an email account, click the Create an Email Address for the Child link and click Next.
Follow the instructions to create an account for each child. Enter the required information such as email address, password, country and date of birth and click Next. You will receive confirmation that the account has been created. Click Close.
Your child will be added to your family list and the status will read as Child. You can now use the account since parental controls are enabled, so let them sign in to their account to complete the process.
Note. If your child already has an email account and you entered it in the steps above, you will be prompted to sign in and use the instructions sent in the invitation email. The account status will be Child, Pending, so they will need to sign in to complete their account setup.
How to change parental control settings in Windows 10
This step will help you make sure that the parental controls you have installed suits your needs.
Click Start> Settings> Accounts, select Family & Other People in the left pane, and select Manage Family Settings Online.
When prompted, sign in and then locate your child’s account in the list of family members’ accounts. Click on “Manage Permissions” and toggle the “Activity Reports” toggle to “On” / “Green” to activate screen time limits.
Change the default settings using the daily scale and dropdowns.
Click the Content Restrictions tab to set restrictions on access to sites, applications, games, and media for your child.
Turn on the Block inappropriate apps and games and Block inappropriate websites options to block sites that you do not want them to access. You can add any websites or apps you want to allow or block and choose an age rating.
Note. You can block inappropriate sites when using Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer browsers. This works on Windows 10, Android devices with Microsoft Launcher and Xbox One.
How to enable web browsing restrictions
How to Turn on Web Browsing Limits
To enable Web Browsing Restrictions, click Content Restrictions, scroll down to Web Browsing, and enable / disable the Block Inappropriate Websites options. If there are specific sites that you want to always block, add their URLs to the Always Block section.
If there are sites that you specifically allowed and want your child to see only those sites, check the Always Allowed section.
How to control the websites children can access on Xbox One
If your child uses Xbox One, you can set up web filtering to control the types of websites they can access from their console. To do this, sign in to your console (for adults), press the Xbox button to open the guide, and go to System> Settings> Account> Family.
Select the child account to which you want to add web filters and select “Web Filtering”.
Click the drop-down list for more options and select the desired level of web filtering. You can’t add certain web filtering websites on Xbox One; it can only be added to the always allowed list for the Windows family.
Third-party parental control software
While Windows offers a decent selection of parental controls for blocking sites, it can be difficult to set it up on your child’s mobile device or game console. However, there are several free or paid parental control programs that you can use to block websites on these devices. Here are some that offer additional features and flexibility to keep your kids safe online
It is a popular parental control software that works with Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Kindle and Nook. It offers a complete set of tools that you can use to block unwanted and inappropriate apps or websites and keep kids safe online.
Its interface is easy to use, intuitive, and lets you control everything from time constraints on apps, games, and internet usage, to monitoring social media, and tracking calls and text messages on your kids’ devices.
The app has a real-time internet filter that detects and blocks inappropriate sites even in incognito / private browsing mode.
There is a free version available, but you can only use it on one device, and most of its powerful features like location tracking, SMS monitoring, app management, social media monitoring or game blocking are blocked for paid access.
This is a free parental control software that automatically tracks program or app usage, web browsing history, keystrokes, and saves screenshots taken on the computer your child is using.
You can install it on your smartphone and it will log all phone calls, including data such as contact name and phone number, as well as record WhatsApp messages.
The cross-platform app is compatible with Instagram and Discord, which parents might want to follow. The service is constantly updated with new compatibility options. It also has a voice recorder that records audio from online conversations.
A free version is available, but it has limited features and only covers one device. If you need extra protection, you can get the paid version, which offers more features, including listening to Skype calls and silent monitoring of WhatsApp conversations.
OpenDNS Family Protection
OpenDNS Family Shield
OpenDNS is a free, all-network solution that runs at a router layer and automatically blocks domains tagged under pre-made block lists with headers like pornography, sexual, and other objectionable content. P>
The FamilyShield option blocks domains across your entire home network as it works on computers, mobile devices and your router to filter traffic through it. All you have to do is change the DNS server settings in the control panel and filter every device on your network.
Protect children from the dark web
Before choosing a specific parental control software, check if it is compatible with all the devices you have in your home and how many devices it can work with.
Most of the apps and programs mentioned above support major operating systems and work with multiple devices depending on which one you choose. Some are available for free with basic protection on a limited number of devices, while others offer free and paid versions.
If your child only uses a smartphone, check out our roundup of the best mobile parental controls