First things first, I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear. There is no fool-proof way to ensure your child will never be exposed to pornography, even in your home. The fact is that just about every child will be exposed to pornography at some point in their childhood. The creators of it continue to find ways around filters and protections you have put in place and will continue to do so. For this reason, it is incredibly important to help your children learn to reject pornography when they do happen upon it.
There is good news though. There are many things you can do to make it really difficult to find its way into your house and in front of your child’s eyes. I believe in layers, so you don’t need to just pick one of these options, you can do 1, 2 or ALL of them!
Use a filter on your wifi network
Your first line of defense should be to filter the content that is coming through your wifi router. This will trickle down to every device that is connected to your network. Whether it is a gaming console or a smartphone, as long as it connects to the home wifi network you can filter content to it. OpenDNS is a free tool that filters content at the router. There is a paid version as well that will give you reporting options.
Some routers even come with content filters, so check with your wifi router brand and see if you already have some options available to you.
Filter your mobile network
Some of the major cell phone service providers offer content filtering for an additional charge. The filters are typically bundled with a broader family protection plan. Check with your individual provider to see what options are available to you.
Set filters on individual devices
As I mentioned, I’m a strong believer in layers, so just protecting the network is not enough. Each device should have its own filtering program or settings to grab anything that makes its way past OpenDNS. Forcing Android and iOS devices to use Boomerang’s Spin Browser allows you to filter content going to those smartphones and tablets. The filtering will take place whether your child is on your home wifi or out in the world.
Desktop computers and laptops are a little different though and do not have access to the Spin Browser. Most modern browsers like Chrome do offer “safe search” capabilities, but it’s not always perfect, and it is easy to get around. A better solution is to find a program you can install on your desktop that will take care of content filtering for those devices.
Gaming consoles also have their own built-in parental controls that should help inappropriate content from reaching them as well. However, if a child brings over a game that is Mature rated, the game might still run even with the controls turned on.
Think of any other devices on your network that might have access to the internet. Smart TV’s, DVD Players, IoT devices. Basically, these days, if it has an on/off switch it likely has access to the internet. Make sure you know about any of the content filters that are built into those devices.
Once you have each layer of filtering set up, it will take an amazing feat of strength for your child to accidentally happen upon pornography. I am not saying it will be impossible, but it will definitely be more difficult to find.
However, there is still one gaping hole we have yet to fill, and that is neighbor networks and devices. If your child’s friend brings a device into your home, make sure you check with the parents on what kind of filters and parental controls are installed on the device. If your neighbor has an open network that can also unfiltered access to the internet. The device itself may still be protected, but it will lose the top layer filtering at the network level.