Safe Surfing

surfing

Have you ever been on a beach and watched as surfers get ready to go out?  They usually always stand on the beach for a bit and watch the waves.  There is a lot that goes into making waves just right for surfing.  The same things that make waves great can also quickly make them unsafe.

There are so many amazing things on the internet and the waves of information can be incredible to ride.  But that same surfing can quickly become unsafe if precautions aren’t taken.

In digital forums the topic of “safe surfing” and protecting your kids online often comes up.  As I’ve been searching for solutions for my own family, I’ve found some pretty good ones and thought I would share. I also asked our team members for suggestions and have included them in the list.

Jenn uses Zoodles for her young kids when they are online.  She said:

There’s also an app for the android and iPhones. You can tailor it to the child’s age, track some statistics about their online play, and they can access games and videos through that site, too.

Katie found Kid Mode for Google Chrome.

Mobicip is an app that I use on all i-devices (iPod Touch, iPhones, iPads) that has parental control settings and you can also view histories.  I know there are similar apps for other mobile devices, but don’t know their names.  It lets filter YouTube as well.  The app is free but you do have to sign up for a paid account for it to work.  It becomes the default internet browser on those apps after you deactivate Safari. I’ve been really glad to have it on our devices and know that my kids are safe in their surfing.

K-9 is a great internet filtering utility and it is FREE!  I used it for years, but it stopped playing nice with the paid version of AVG a while ago.  (The paid version of AVG is my virus protection of choice because I haven’t had any issues since I started using it.) K9 is very customizable with a fun sense of humor as well (you can set it to bark when access to blocked sites is attempted).

OpenDNS is different from many things out there and I recently installed it.  There are free versions, but I use the $10 per year level, which protects a whole house.  The filtering through OpenDNS is not machine or device based, it is modem/router based.  This means that any machine or device connected to the internet through that router/modem is protected (at my house it’s the Wii, three-four computers, and our i-devices).  You simply change the DNS settings in your router (don’t let it scare you if it doesn’t make sense, they have instructions for most routers on their site).  I had a bit of a tough time getting it installed at first and then I read something about downloading their IP Address Updater.  Once I downloaded that on my machine and had it running, I was easily able to get everything working.

Another pretty cool feature of OpenDNS is that it filters ads out on websites.  Let me show you what I mean, I grabbed this screenshot when I was writing Saturday’s post. (Now, I know, I am probably the ONLY parent that doesn’t want their kids on Facebook, but that is beside the point):

OpenDNS

In the red area an ad for Facbook is blocked.  It simply says:  “www.facebook.com is not loading. Powered by OpenDNS.” So, if a site that is permitted (like ehow) has an ad on it for a site that is blocked, (like Facebook is in my custom settings) then the ad won’t show up.  When I click on that ad, it redirects to the default OpenDNS page that comes up when sites are blocked.

The settings with OpenDNS are very customizable even allowing you to permanently add or block specific sites. You can also look at histories and even block certain activities or all internet usage during certain times of the day.

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Are you aware of other solutions for safe internet surfing?  My team and I would love to hear about them!  Please share your solutions with us in the comments.  Making sure the waves are safe before surfing is what all smart surfers do!