Definitive Guide: Set up [Parental Controls] on All Devices

The Internet offers a myriad of possibilities for its users and it has pretty much taken over much of our lives. Unfortunately, not all of it is good, especially for young audiences. It is therefore not surprising that so many parents are reluctant about giving their child access to gadgets or the Internet.

However, the Internet and technology have now become a necessity. It is then a good thing that parents are now given an option to use parental controls. Parental controls help parents or guardians protect their children from unsafe online content.

Before being able to use parental controls effectively, you must first learn how to navigate your way around them and know what options are available for you. Read on to learn more about parental controls.

What are Parental Controls?

Parental controls are features found in digital devices, programs, applications, Internet service providers, and operating systems that help parents or guardians filter what their children could access from their devices or from the Internet. While they are not fool-proof, using parental controls is definitely one of the first things a parent should set up to protect their kids from inappropriate online content.

However, setting parental controls is most effective if communicated properly with your child instead of being used in secret. If your child is already old enough to be reasoned with, you must help them understand why you must limit their access to certain web content or applications.

This way, your kids will recognize the need for it. Moreover, this can be one of their first lessons on discernment which will help them make wise decisions for themselves.

What Can Parental Controls Do?

There are many features available in parental controls settings. First, you can use them to limit the amount of time your child spends on the Internet or on their gadget.

Second, you can restrict their access to specific applications or programs which may not be suitable for their age.

Third, you can use them to filter content they see when they use browsers or applications.

Fourth, they can block pop-ups that may feature mature content.

By using parental controls, you would be able to monitor and restrict what your child sees using digital devices.

Types of Parental Controls

Parental controls are basically classified according to level and function.

There are three basic types of parental controls according to level. First is the network level. By setting this up, you can set limits for all devices connected to the router. Second is the device level, which is controlling the access of specific devices. Third is on the application level, which is tinkering with how much a specific software allows access.

On the other hand, there are many types of parental controls based on function. Some are made to block content, keep track of usernames and passwords, or limit the duration of use. There are also others which keep track of online conversations.

Parental Controls From Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Your home Internet provider is likely to have packages catered to parental controls. Consider this as your first layer of protection that filters right at the source. Of course, you would still have to set up controls in individual devices especially if your kids would not be using the home network for some time.

By using parental controls on the network level, you can already block websites, specific services, and various types of media. You can also set the limit for Internet use, and view your child’s activity.

Here are some offers for parental controls from different ISPs.

AT&T

AT&T has several offers for parental controls, like the Smart Control. You can set up an account online and list ten devices covered by restrictions. You can also control the Internet use time and access to websites and content.

Smart Limits, on the other hand, is an option used for individual smartphone devices.

Verizon

Parental controls are provided by Verizon via the FiOS router. By setting up an account you can control access to content and websites. If you are using FiOS TV, you can also explore the settings to know which shows, games, and other services can be accessed by your child.

Comcast/Xfinity

By accessing the administration site, you can see the devices connected to your router and individually set the amount of time a specific device can access the Internet. There is already a default list of blacklisted sites but you can add more.

Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable provides parental controls via the McAfee Security Suite for free. There are already default security measures featured there, but you can still tinker with the settings to suit your needs. On the other hand, if Time Warner Cable is also your cable provider you can access the parental controls settings in the converter box.

Charter/Spectrum

Using the provided parental controls settings by Charter Spectrum, you can limit access to certain programs and channels based on rating, channel, content, time and day. There is also an option to hide adult content.

BT

BT Parental controls offers three default filter levels: strict, moderate, and light. There are also advanced options for your own needs. Using BT Parental controls, you can filter using 16 broad categories, limit Internet use time, and block individual websites.

Virgin Media

Virgin media offers options for parental controls for free. By activating this option, all devices connected to the network will be restricted to access inappropriate content including hate, racism, violence, and pornography among others. F-Secure Service, on the other hand, is an option for device-level protection.

EE

EE has a Content Lock feature that allows three levels of filtering: Strict, Moderate, and Off. The default setting is moderate. If access to 18-rated content is requested, credit card details are required to make sure that the user is 18 years old or above. The same is required when trying to change settings.

Home Networking Parental Controls

Again, your first line of defense starts right at the source: the router. If parental controls are set at the router level, it will take effect on all devices using that same network. This means that you would not have to install parental controls software or applications on every device that your child has an access to.

There are many ways to set parental controls at the router level. One is through the router’s administrative console which can be accessed through your browser. You just have to enter your IP address and find Access Restrictions setting.

The second option is to subscribe to a router system that already has settings for parental controls. A third option is to purchase a parental control device that can be paired to your router. There are a variety of the said devices that are available in the market. Lastly, you may opt to subscribe to a Domain Name System (DNS) service provider.

Parental Controls on Your Computer Operating System

Operating systems are the tools by which your computer runs. Since it has become a necessity to use computers and devices, your children will eventually have to learn how to make use of them especially for educational purposes.

There are ways to help make your computer more child-friendly, reducing the risk of exposing them to unsafe content or making purchases by accident. There are parental controls options for Windows, Mac, and Chrome OS. Moreover, Linux offers a variety of free kid-friendly operating systems like Qimo, Edubuntu, DoudouLinux, and KIDO’Z.

Check out the following links to find out more about making your computer safer for your kids:

Windows

Using the parental controls settings for Windows, you can put restrictions on what your child can online, which applications they can use or not use, and limit the amount of time they can stay on the computer. Moreover, this prevents them from making unauthorized purchases.

The best way to configure the parental controls settings is to make a Microsoft account for your child. You can also activate the Activity Reporting option so that you can have a weekly report of your child’s activities.

Mac

Configuring the parental controls settings from your Mac is fairly easy. You just need to add a user, set the age of the user, and enable parental controls.

You can set restrictions for various functions in your Mac: time, webcam, application, email, web, stores, multiplayer games, and privacy.

Here are some helpful sites that can help you get started:

Chrome OS

You can modify what your child can access through your Chromebook by downloading the Family Link app on your phone and then make an account for your child. This safety measure has some issues and is still being improved on, but essentially it works well.

Through Family Link, you can control what your child can access online. There are filters for blocking mature sites and allowing specific sites. Before you modify this, it is recommended to disable the Guest Mode feature to avoid your child bypassing the parental controls.

Parental controls on Smartphones and Tablets

Another level of keeping your children safe in the digital world is by setting up parental controls on smartphones and tablets. Setting restrictions on the network level is great at controlling right at the source, but it would not suffice if your child will not be accessing the Internet from home.

Using the parental controls features of individual devices will help your children stay safe no matter which network they use to get online.

iPhone, iPad, iPod

Enable Restrictions from you or your child’s device. Through this function, you will be able to prevent unwanted purchases, hide built-in apps and features, filter mature media, make restrictions with playing games, limit web access, and more.

Here are some links to help you make the most of this feature:

Android

There are basically two options for setting up parental controls for Android devices: through Family Link or through adding a user account in your device.

Using Family Link is ideal if your child has their own device since the app acts as a third-party monitor. All you need to do is to download the app in your own device, make an account for your child and configure the settings. Next, use the app on your child’s phone. Your child will use the credentials you have set up to able to use the phone. You will be able to set the rules and keep track of your child’s activities

On the other hand, if you share your own device with your child, you can instead create a separate restricted account that your child can use. With this, you will be able to control which apps your child will have access to.

Google Play Store

You can always choose to restrict access to the Google Play in your child’s account in order to avoid unintended purchases or access to inappropriate applications. However, considering that your child can make the most of technology for either recreational or educational purposes, you may want to allow them to download apps themselves.

One way to moderate their access to mobile apps is to use the Parental controls setting that is built in the Google Play app. You can set up a PIN to prevent other users from changing your filters. You can also use this setting to require authentication in order to prevent in-app or app purchases.

Parental Controls on Your Internet Browser

Avoid your children accidentally running into inappropriate online content by enabling certain functions in the browser they use. While there are downloadable kid-friendly browsers, they are not fool-proof and they can be easily bypassed.

There are many ways to keep your child safe online depending on the browser that you use. Some have built-in safety features, while others can be used with extensions or add-ins.

Check out the following to learn more about them:

Google Chrome

A first option for making browsing safe with Google Chrome is to make use of its built-in features in the Preferences setting. Turn on SafeSearch on your browser and for added protection, you can install free extensions to block or allow certain websites.

You can also create a Supervised User in your browser, which is an included section in the Settings. After this, make necessary restrictions by entering sites to blacklisted or approved lists in www.chrome.com/manage. You also have an option to enable child lock to avoid changes made to its settings.

Safari

You can access the Parental controls settings on your Mac through System Preferences or Accounts. Create a new user and enable parental controls. The previously discussed restriction options for Mac would appear, but to control what they can access through Safari, go to the Web tab. You should be able to control which websites to block or allow.

On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings and navigate to Restrictions. If you are using iOS 12, go to Screen Time instead. Under the Websites tab, enable Limit Adult Content. You can also add websites under the blacklist or whitelist.

  1. How to block websites in Safari on iPhone and iPad | iMore
  2. Parents’ Guide for Setting Parental controls on Safari | Pumpic
  3. 5 Useful Ways to Utilize Your Mac’s Parental controls | MakeUseOf

Firefox

Firefox currently does not have built-in safety features for safe browsing so you would have to install add-ons to filter what your child can access.

To do this, open your browser, go to the menu and select Add-Ons. Get more Add-ons by searching using Parental control. There should be a selection of add-ons from which you could choose from. Read about their features and install the one that you think suits your needs.

Close your browser and relaunch. Configure settings according to your preference.

Internet Explorer

Open Internet Explorer and look for the Internet Options. Under the Content tab, enable Content Adviser. A list of categories will appear and all you need to do is to choose which to allow or block. Use the slider to adjust the filter. You can also add websites that your child can visit.

You can also restrict access through parental controls in your Windows operating system, which has been previously discussed.

Kid-Safe Browsers

You can always opt to use kid-safe browsers instead of your default browser. These come with default age-appropriate restrictions. You can also modify the allowed or blocked websites. Also depending on the kind of browser you would want to use, you can limit time use and control online interactions.

Parental Controls on Search Engines

Allow your child to have access to educational resources without having to worry about them stumbling across inappropriate content by configuring your search engine to show filtered results.

If you think the above option may be too complicated or still not foolproof, you might want to consider using kid-friendly search engines. These already have default filters and they only show content that is safe for kids. Browse through the following options for a kid-friendly search engine:

Google

Turn on SafeSearch on Google to filter explicit online content from your search results. This is not a perfect way to block all inappropriate content, but it sure helps as another layer of protection.

Go to Search Settings to enable the SafeSearch feature.

Bing

It is also really easy to filter content if you are using Bing as your search engine. Simply go to the Settings button. Under, SafeSearch, you are given three options in filtering search results: Strict, Moderate, and Off. Choose your preference and then click Save.

Yahoo

To turn on Safe Search for Yahoo, make sure you are logged in to your account. Find the gear icon then click on Preferences. From there, you should be able to choose among Strict, Moderate, or Off as options for Safe Search. You can also lock this feature and save your settings.

Parental Controls on Video Streaming Sites

The Internet provides content that can engage a user and keep them occupied for a long time. This is just perfect for helping kids stay interested in learning. However, due to the sheer volume of available multimedia content that can be found online, this can also be a nightmare for parents or guardians who want to keep their children safe.

Not everything is safe online, and even parental controls are not perfectly capable of blocking all inappropriate online content. However, you can still employ restrictions in multimedia sites to at least help you filter some content.

YouTube

In 2017 alone, more than 1 billion videos were uploaded on YouTube. We all know that not everything uploaded on YouTube is safe for young audiences so it can be scary to let kids navigate through it on their own.

YouTube offers an option for Restricted viewing mode. While that does not perfectly block all inappropriate content, it sure can help filter out some bad content.

On your browser, go to YouTube and click on the icon on the top right, scroll down the menu and enable Restricted Mode. On your phone app, go to the Settings and enable the Restricted Mode under the General tab.

Netflix

There are several ways you can control what your child can watch on Netflix.

The first one is by setting a PIN. Just go to your You Account, select Parental controls under Settings, and enter your password. Once you have done this you can set a PIN. You can also use the slider to filter according to your child’s age.

One other thing you can do is to make separate Kids profiles for your children. Once you have done this, click on Manage Profiles and choose a profile you would want to make changes to. Choose between For Little Kids Only or For Older Kids and Below.

Swipe TV

Swipe TV has made an app available for free download. Since it is designed for kids, its videos, galleries, and quizzes safe for young audiences. It also allows kids to leave comments, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, or favorite selected content. Swipe TV provides interactive entertainment that is suitable for kids.

Parental Controls on Game Consoles

It is not easy to strike the balance between recreation and addiction when it comes to playing video games. While playing video games brings many positives like developing hand-eye coordination and strategic thinking, there are also many risks.

For one, a big chunk of gamers is adults. This means that many video games are not suitable for young audiences. Second, video games can be really addicting if not monitored.

It is good then that gaming consoles have settings for parental controls that help filter adult content, disable in-game purchases, and limit time use.

Xbox One

To create separate profiles for your children, go to your console’s Settings and click on Account. Go to the Family icon and make a profile for your child. If your child does not have a Microsoft account yet, you would have to make one for them.

Customize your child’s profile by selecting it and making appropriate changes to three categories: Privacy & Online Settings; Access to Content; and Web Filtering.

On the other hand, if you want to limit your child’s screen time, you would have to go to the Microsoft Family website and adjust Screen Time settings under your child’s account.

Xbox 360

Setting the parental controls for your Xbox 360 console allows you to: limit access to games based on ratings; set a time limit; and allow or restrict access to Xbox Live.

Turning on parental controls can be done through your console or on your desktop via your Xbox Live account. Through your Xbox 360 console, select your child’s Gamertag and change the settings under the Privacy & Online Settings icon.

On the other hand, select Security, family & forums in your Xbox Live account. Lastly, select Xbox 360 Online Safety to make necessary adjustments.

PlayStation 4 (PS4)

Your PS4 console also allows parental controls. By using this option, you will be able to block content and restrict games, Blu-rays, and DVDs using different levels of parental control. Moreover, you can also block the use of Internet browser, disable or limit purchases, and set time limits.

To do this, simply make go to the Parental controls settings and make a sub-account for your child. Just fill in the required information accordingly then you will be able to make the necessary adjustments to make your child’s gaming safer. You will also have to make a 4-digit  passcode before using this feature.

PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Similar to PS4, PS3 allows parental control over games, Blu-rays, DVDs, and Internet access. Restrictions are also based on different parental control levels, with 1 being the most restricted, and 9 being suitable for adults.

To make use of this function, go to your console’s Settings and change your passcode under Security Settings. Next, you can make the appropriate adjustments to game, Blu-ray, DVD, and browser restrictions.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii makes use of Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings when it comes to parental controls. To set up, go to Wii Options, select Settings, then find Parental controls. If it is your first time to configure parental controls, you will be asked to make a four-digit PIN.

Once you are done go to Game Settings and choose your desired highest allowed ESRB setting.

Additional features can be found in Other Settings. From here, you can choose to limit Internet browsing, shopping, interaction, among other settings.

Nintendo Switch

There are two ways to configure parental controls for Nintendo Switch: through the console or through the Nintendo Switch Parental control App. You can make limitations to content access, social media sharing, time use, and communicating with other players.

To change your settings through the console, simply go to System Settings and Parental control Settings. There are already preset restrictions available depending on the age of your child, but you can opt to make custom controls.

On the other hand, if you are using the app on your smartphone, create an account and enter the registration code on your console. In the Parental control Settings of your console, select Use Your Smart Device. From here on you can make changes through your phone.

Nintendo DS (3 DS, 3DS XL, 2DS, 2DS XL)

Nintendo DS’ parental controls can be used to modify what kind of content your child can access based on the appropriate ESRB settings. You can also limit Internet access, purchases, data sharing, and online interaction.

To configure parental settings, go to System Settings and then Parental controls. Set up a PIN and register your email address. Modify the default settings as you see fit.

Nintendo DSi (DSi, DSi XL)

Using the Nintendo DSi handheld console, you can limit the kind of material your child can access, communication with other players, Internet browsing, and shopping.

Configuring DSi’s parental control settings are similar to DS’. Go to System Settings and then Parental controls. You will once again be asked to enter a PIN. Next, you can choose your desired limits to game access. The succeeding options will allow you to choose among other parental controls features.

PlayStation Portable (PSP)

You can configure access to UMD, digital playback, and Internet access if your child is using a PSP. To do this, first, know the ESRB rating appropriate for your child. Next, go to Settings, Security Settings, and Parental control Level and choose your desired restriction.

On the other hand, you may restrict access to the Internet browser by going to Internet Browser Start Control which is also under Security Settings.

Social Media Privacy Settings

Social media brings many positive effects to its users. For one, it is a good way to communicate with people that you know and to find information. Moreover, it helps a teen develop a good sense of self.

However, it is probably hardest to protect your child in social media. The number of social media users is continuously rising, and so is the addiction to it. As many teens find validation through these platforms, they may be prone to depression as validation is withheld from them. Not to mention, bullies, trolls, and predators thrive in social media.

It is scary to allow your child to use social media. However, being obsessive about knowing everything about what your child does or has access to is also not a good idea, nor is it a sign of a healthy relationship with them.

The key to protecting your child online is by communicating with them openly. In the first place, they should be mature enough before they are allowed to handle their own social media accounts. Facebook, for one, limits its users to 13 years old and above. Still, it is not hard to fake your age when making a Facebook account.

Prepare your child for the online world. Before letting your child use social media accounts, talk to them about the pros and cons of it, and the importance of building a good online reputation and leaving a good digital trace. Be open with them and have an agreement about gadget and social media use.

Still, it is good that social media sites have features that can protect your child to a certain extent.

Facebook

In Facebook’s Privacy Settings, there are several ways with which you can protect your teen. You can limit who can see your teen’s posts and personal information. You can also control who can find your teenager’s account through the Facebook search feature. Lastly, you can limit who can contact them via Facebook.

To be able to make these adjustments, go to Settings, then Privacy Settings. On the Profile option, you can change who can see their information and posts. You can also choose not to let anyone see their contact information.

On the other hand, you can limit you can find your teen on Facebook by going to the Search option which is also under Privacy Settings. Lastly, in the How Can People Contact You section, you will be able to limit who can contact your teen on Facebook.

Twitter

On Twitter, you can go to Privacy and Safety and tick the box next to Protect My Tweets in order to make your teen’s account private. This way only approved followers will be able to see what they post on Twitter. You can also allow only her followers to tag her in posts and photos.

Disable the box next to Receive Direct Messages From Anyone so that only the people whom you teen follows would be able to send her messages. Under Privacy, you can also find options for enabling Live videos, Discoverability, and content filters. Tick the proper boxes as you see fit.

Snapchat

Shared media and sent messages stay for only 24 hours on Snapchat. This may make your teen feel less careful about using this app since nothing stays permanent on it. For this reason, Snapchat is being used more and more prominently for sexting.

However, when you are using the Internet, nothing really goes away. You must then openly communicate with your teen about how to use Snapchat responsibly.

To keep your teen safer on Snapchat, go to the app’s Settings and make sure that only friends can contact them or send them snaps. Consequently, make sure that only friends can see their Snaps and their location. You can also disable the See Me in Quick Add option so strangers would not find your teen in their friend suggestions.

Block Pop-Ups

Pop-ups are windows that appear over your Internet browser without any notice. For us, these are a nuisance at worst. However, the young ones may be more at risk.

Usually, pop-ups call the user’s attention to advertisements. Not all pop-ups, however, are safe for your child to see. Some pop-ups also bring malware that may affect your computer.

There are several ways to block pop-ups on your desktop or on your mobile device. First, Internet browsers already have built-in features that allow you to enable or disable pop-up windows. Simply change this setting to suit your preference.

Second, you can install an extension or add-in that specifically address ads and pop-up windows. You can look for one and install them to your Internet browser.

Third,  you can also change pop-up settings in your phone’s browser or install add-ins if you are using Firefox.

Parental Control Softwares and Apps

So far, you have been given an overview of parental controls options that are built into ISPs, devices, programs, and applications. These on their own already provide several layers of protection for your child.

However, as has also been discussed, these are not foolproof. For this reason, you may want to consider purchasing a parental control software. These will help you filter what your child can see online or on their devices, limit the time they can use their gadgets, block inappropriate content, limit who they can contact or who can contact them, and prevent them from making unauthorized purchases. Moreover, these apps or software can show you a regular report of your child’s activities.

The best way to help your child stay safe, once more, is to communicate with them. It is highly discouraged that you use spy apps that are secretly installed in your child’s devices. Not only does that cross their privacy, but it is also not good for your relationship with them.

The following are some reviews of parental controls software and apps. Go through them and see what suits your needs and your budget.

 

In this article, we went through several layers of protection that you can use to protect your child in this digital age. From ISPs to routers, TV networks, computers, handheld devices, consoles, and individual applications, we saw that there are ways to keep your child safe online.

Being a parent in the digital age is not easy and so these methods of setting up parental controls can definitely help you keep your child safe to an extent. Still, nothing beats openly communicating with your child about the good and the bad of using their gadgets and surfing the web.

Proper communication will not only help you have a healthy relationship with your child, but it is also the best way to help them make wise decisions in using technology and in preparing them for the online world.

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