The Technology You Need to Keep Kids and Teens Safe Online
By Sean Wright and Jason Hardy of 3n1technology
Part 2: Content Filtering and Accountability Software Recommendations
In our last post, we discussed an approach to family internet safety that involves implementing two kinds of technology: content filters, which block access to objectionable content, and accountability software, which monitors and reports children’s internet activity to parents. Both are necessary in families where parents want not only to prevent their children from viewing dangerous content like pornography but also to have healthy conversations with their children about internet safety.
This week, we’d like to offer some specific product recommendations for content filters and accountability solutions we’ve found helpful. While there are a number of solutions out there that may align well with families’ needs, we feel that these two are top of the line.
OpenDNS: Filtering at The Network Level
At first, content filters were primarily designed to be installed on individual computers. That was great when families only had one computer in the house. Now, however, it’s not uncommon for each family member to have one or more internet-connected devices. That’s why OpenDNS makes so much sense for families. This service is set up on your home network to filter all web traffic that occurs over that network—on your child’s laptop, tablet, phone, or even his or her friends’ devices. Furthermore, OpenDNS offers a free option for families, as well as a more feature-rich version for $19.95 per year.
Covenant Eyes: Accountability for the Whole Family, and Filtering at the Device Level
In tandem with the blanket filtering OpenDNS applies on your network, we recommend installing Covenant Eyes on all of your children’s devices. Luckily, doing so will only run you $13.99 per month, as their family pricing model allows you to install the software on an unlimited number of devices within your family.
Covenant Eyes is a top-of-the-line accountability solution that is highly customizable to your family’s needs. Parents will receive detailed reports on browsing history, search terms, and app usage, with potentially dangerous content called out clearly. Furthermore, the Covenant Eyes filtering functionality, which is available on most platforms (with the notable exclusion of Android, although accountability is available for Android) is customizable based on age, meaning you can allow the filter to grow with your child. It makes a great second line of defense after the OpenDNS filter applied on your home network.
What About Mobile Devices?
Even with these recommended solutions in place, keeping your child safe on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be a challenge. OpenDNS is only effective on your wireless network, so what happens when your child leaves the house, or uses cellular data? Covenant Eyes does provide accountability services on mobile devices, and filtering on iOS devices (iPhones and iPads), but only if your child uses the Covenant Eyes browser exclusively. So how do parents navigate these challenges? Stay tuned for our next Technology Tuesday blog post for some tips!
Sean Wright, 3n1technology’s President & CEO, has put his passion for technology to use by helping families adapt technology to their needs for 14 years. Jason Hardy, 3n1’s Director of Communications, helps translate Sean’s wealth of technical knowledge for the rest of us. 3n1technology is a one-stop technology partner for businesses and individuals that serves Greater Nashville by doing IT differently. Find out how at 3n1technology.com.