How can I stop my kids from seeing inappropriate websites?

Shocked boy on laptop

Question

How can I stop my kids from seeing inappropriate websites? Can I block the websites on their computers, but keep them unblocked on mine?

Naomi S, via email

Our expert Kim says...

There's a ton of stuff on the web that isn't suitable for kids - age-inappropriate social media, Game of Thrones screencaps, an illustrated history of swear words, you name it. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to set reasonable parental controls. And yes, you can set them on just your kids' gadgets while keeping the adults' unfiltered.

All UK broadband providers offer content filters at a network level, which means that any device connected to your home broadband will be blocked from accessing anything inappropriate. You can alter the filters to choose what kind of content they block, and even set them to go on and off at certain times of the day. You can enjoy pure, unfiltered internet after the kids have gone to bed, for instance, or switch off access to social media during homework time.

However… that doesn't mean you can add parental controls on a device-by-device basis. For that, you'll need an extra measure.

Computers

Get some internet security software from a company like McAfee. Buy and download a copy to your kid's computer or laptop, and it'll offer protection from viruses, phishing, malware, and even thieves - as well as offering password-controlled content filters.

It's worth mentioning that some broadband providers - such as Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media - offer this free when you take out internet with them too. See our internet security guide for more info.

Smartphones and tablets

If you're the account holder for your kid's mobile plan, many networks will let you set content blocks to stop your kids accessing dodgy sites on 4G/3G. There are also apps available to help out here - take a look at this great list from Internet Matters.

Websites themselves

Any website where you need to make an account, such as iPlayer, Facebook, or YouTube, usually lets you restrict what kind of content you can see. It's also a verygood idea to delve into their privacy settings too, and keep things as secure as possible.

Family using laptop

Take a look at our guide to protecting children online for more tips, tricks, and things to look out for.

Remember…

Content filters are pretty effective for defending against all the nasty stuff online - but things can still slip through the cracks. There's always the chance that a website hasn't been blocked properly, or someone has shared an iffy post on social media, or your kid uses someone else's Wi-Fi.

The Safer Internet Centre says it's important to chat with your children on the reg about internet safety - nothing can really beat open and honest communication. Make sure they know to tell an adult if they see something upsetting online, and teach them all about what is and isn't appropriate to share online.

Check out SaferInternet.org.uk for more info and resources, and have a very secure Safer Internet Day!

 

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