Do you have children? Would you like to configure your home network to easily block adult content? Here’s an easy and affordable way to set up adult content filtering for all Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads on your network. Sign-up for the free OpenDNS Home service.
In recent years, when I’ve been asked to set up adult content filtering, I’ve recommended applications like Intego’s ContentBarrier which now appears to be part of Intego’s Family Protector product. This application gets installed on each computer on which protection is needed. This solution is no longer affective if you have iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches on your home network since ContentBarrier or comparable applications do not exist for the iPhones and other iOS devices. This is where OpenDNS Home comes in handy.
OpenDNS Home works by modifying the configuration of your wireless router. All network traffic in and out of your home network travels through your wireless router. Thus, by reconfiguring your wireless router, you affect all devices on your network, including computers, mobile devices and gaming consoles like XBoxes.
I should mention the protection offered by OpenDNS Home can be pretty easily defeated by somebody who understands how networks work. So it’s not a perfect solution if you have a savvy teenager who wants to get around it. However, OpenDNS Home could be an appropriate solution for younger children.
I’m also watching another product that provides content filtering for your entire network, Pandora’s Hope. I couldn’t learn much about the Pandora’s Hope router or the company that makes it. This PR article indicates that the company started selling products in 2009 and that the current model was released in 2011. I couldn’t find any reviews by computer industry reviewers. The Pandora’s Hope costs $160 and then has a recurring annual costs of $20. I’m not convinced that this money is well spent in comparison to the free FamilyShield service.
[Update: October 2016: Another product that I recently learned about is Circle With Disney. This device takes an interesting approach since it protects all devices on your network including Macs, iPhones and iPads. However, this device does not replace your wireless router. Instead, this device works in conjunction with the wireless router. I haven’t tested this device yet but you can read PCMag’s Review of Circle With Disney.]
[Update: June 2018: Parents tell me that their ideal solution would allow them to control their kids devices regardless of whether those devices are on their home network or some other network. Here are two possible solutions. Circle Go which has been available for a while and Marco Fix, which is still in development. As time permits, I’ll test these products and write new Tech Tips about these products.]
None of the solutions that I could find are perfect, but, for the time being, if you want to prevent children using computers, mobile devices and gaming consoles in your home from accidentally or intentionally finding adult content, I would check out the free OpenDNS Home service. If I find a more robust solution, I’ll update this article.
Note: If you want to setup OpenDNS in your router enter 220.127.116.11 and
18.104.22.168 in your router’s DNS fields. If your router uses IPv6 addressing then read this article