It is essential that parents ensure that the devices their children use to access the internet are as safe as possible. Most devices/web browers/websites have parental control settings although parents have reported these can be difficult to find. Below are direct links to parental control advice pages for common devices and web browsers. Be aware that even with these settings enabled it is not possible to block 100% of the inappropriate material accessible online.
Android (Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG smartphones and tablets etc)
Android devices tend not have a built in parental control setting although you can download a reliable app in the Google Playstore.
Some Samsung devices (Galaxy Tabs etc) do have a ‘Kids Mode’ widget that can be applied which allows parents to control the length of access time, the types of applications available and the option to only be able to download free apps appropriate to children. The link below gives more information on this widget:
The Google Playstore itself does have a parental setting for searching and downloading apps. Through accessing Google Playstore go to ‘settings’ then ‘control filtering’ to set your parameters. This allows you to control what apps are searchable including content and payment options.
Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone etc)
All Apple devices have ‘restriction’ settings which are parental controls. Step by step instructions for applying these can be found here:
It is important to ‘enable’ the restrictions and ensure that every option given has been considered, especially the section on ‘preventing access to specific content types’ which covers age restricted movies/ games/apps etc.
Slightly different options are available depending on the version of Windows on your device, e.g. Vista has slightly different control settings to Windows 7. The link below give instructions on how to set parental controls for Windows devices:
Some web browers, e.g Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, do not currently have parental control settings although Firefox does have an add-on called ‘Fox Filter’ which can be applied.
Internet Explorer does have parental/family settings, therefore, this may be a safer web browser for your children to use. Please follow instructions below to set parental controls:
To set controls:
- Open Internet Explorer
- Select “Tools” from the toolbar
- Select “Internet Options”
- Choose the “Content” tab
- Click “Enable”
- Adjust the slider to select the level you deem appropriate for your child
- Save changes
Youtube is a particular website that can be of great concern to parents due to the vast range of material available for searching. Whilst there are some excellent videos available to educate and entertain children, seemingly innocent search phrases can return with extremely inappropriate material even if you have enabled control settings on your web browser. There is a ‘safe search’ option available on the website and parents are encouraged to activate this before their child conducts any searches and also that the child’s Youtube use is carefully monitored by an adult. The below instructions explain how to set safe search controls for this website:
Once in the website scroll down to the bottom of the page, there is a Safety option (next to ‘help’ option) and it will say OFF. Click on this box and the below option will appear:
- Safety mode hides videos that may contain inappropriate content flagged by users and other signals. No filter is 100% accurate, but it should help you avoid most inappropriate content.
- Your safety mode setting will apply to this browser only. Sign in to enable safety mode everywhere you use YouTube.
- To activate the controls click ‘ON’ option and then click Save.
You may want to lock the safe option as it is very easy to turn off, by locking it you can ensure it is always activated for all family members. To lock the safe setting, you will need a Google account (www.google.co.uk, then click ‘Sign In’ followed by ‘Create an account’). Once you have a Google account you can log in to YouTube and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the safety mode link as shown above. After selecting the “ON” button, you will see an option to lock Safety mode. Select “Save and lock Safety Mode on this browser”. You may be requested to sign in to your Google account if you have not already done so. Once safe search is ‘Locked’, you can now log out of your account. This guarantees that no one else can deactivate the safety setting through that web browser. You will need to follow these steps for each browser your child has access to.