The challenge for our generation is keeping our home as it has always been… a safe harbor for our children. As with all new technology, the internet presents both great opportunity and great danger. The internet is a tool that needs to be used very, very carefully. Parents need to be fully aware of the dangers the internet provides and how to keep their children safe.
As part of a five part series on internet safety, Here are 7 Great Web Filters To Keep Your Family Safe On The Internet.
Norton Family is a comprehensive web filtering and monitoring application that offers protection on multiple web and mobile platforms.
- Web filter allows you to block sites or create a white-list of approved sites.
- Easy-to-read activity report shows all websites visited.
- Set time limits on Internet use.
- Monitor your families use of Social Networking sites.
- Track the words, terms, and phrases that were searched for online.
- Receive email alerts if certain websites are accessed
- Monitor and filter all activity on on any Android Device with an Android App
For iOS, Norton only has an app that lets parents monitor their children’s activities but the app won’t filter websites or monitor mobile activity The Android app is more full featured and lets you monitor activity and block websites on a mobile device. Unfortunately Nexus 7 devices and Android OS 4.2 are not supported at this time.
The base version is free, the Premier Version is $50 and lets you monitor text messages, get weekly reports emailed to you, more detailed reports, video monitoring and more.
Norton Family is a great value if you want good filter and monitoring tools for a computer or Android device. If you have an iPad or iPhone you may want to look at other options.
K9 Web Protection is a free Internet filter and parental control software for your home Windows or Mac computer.
- Web site blocking for over 70 categories.
- SafeSearch enabled on all search engines to show cleaner search results.
- Time restrictions, including NightGuard(tm), to disallow internet access during designated times.
- Time out option to temporarily disable internet access if hitting many blocked sites.
- Custom “always allow” and “always block” lists for your personal preferences.
- Ability to override a block with an accountability password.
- Tamper resistant for savvy user (even children)
- Compatible with Windows or Mac machines
- View easy reports to monitor and control web activity
K9 web offers great protection on Android and Apple devices, using their Blue Coat Technology which is used by 15,000 customers and 80% of Fortune 500 Companies. K9 gives you a modified Mobile Firefox Browser that is very secure and does a great job from protecting users from unapproved sites. It’s drawbacks include little ability to customize controls, lack of any mobile monitoring.
K9 Web Protection is free for all home users and mobile devices. If you would like to use it for your organization it is available for $1.85 per user per month (that would be $222 for 10 people per year).
If you are looking for an inexpensive web filter that does a good job blocking and filtering sites on computers and mobile devices this is a great place to start. If you want more user options or better monitoring options you may want to consider Norton Family.
3. Open DNS
Open DNS gives you the ability to filter every internet device in your home instantly. Open DNS gives you the option to set up protection through your router giving any device connected to the internet through the router instant protection.
- Offers Flexible Parental Controls and protects any device using your internet.
- OpenDNS Home VIP gives you detailed charts about websites being visited on your home network. See your top websites and be notified of problematic ones.
- You can choose to set up Open DNS on your router or computer.
- Instantly blocks access to adult websites. No complicated configuration.
Open DNS automatically protects and mobile device as long as it is using the internet from your home. There is no need to download separate apps.
Open DNS offers its Family Shield for free. Open DNS is $19.95 a year and comes with more features as well as premium support.
Open DNS does a great job securing your home internet, however there are a number of flaws:
- Open DNS does not support all routers.
- If you are using AT&T’s U-verse you cannot set up Open DNS through a router.
- Your phone or tablet is completely open and unfiltered when using internet outside your home.
- Can be pretty difficult for someone who is not tech-savvy to set up.
The bottom line is that we would recommend Open DNS Only if you have no mobile devices you need to protect, Don’t use U-verse, have a compatible router and know your way around a computer.
AVG Family Safety has been protecting families around the world since 2001 (formerly called Bsecure) with a patented, cloud-based technology.
- Social Networking Protection.
- Monitor searches on popular engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
- The Ability To Filter Search Terms
- Parental Alerts monitor both Web and Social Networks.
- Alerts sent via text and email.
- Integrated Mobile Filtering Browser for iPhone/iPad.
- Schedule or limit your child’s Internet access.
AVG Family offers a mobile browser app for the iPhone and iPad. The mobile browser is used instead of the default browser (Safari) enabling the browser to be filtered. At this time AVG does not offer a browser for Android.
AVG Family Safety is $49 for three licenses, meaning your can load the software on up to three computers. You can add more computers for another $20 per license.
AVG Family Safety Is a good solid filter and monitor. There are some drawbacks however:
- Not compatible with Macs.
- No mobile browser for Android
- AVG just purchased this application from BSecure, It remains to be seen if they enhance and update it properly
If you need to protect a PC and/or an iPhone AVG Family safety is a good buy.
McAfee Family Protection gives you the ability to manage Internet use and prevent exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers, and other threats when your children go online.
- Protects from exposure to adult content.
- Manage the amount of time spent on the Internet.
- Prevent contacts with strangers.
- Keep your children from listening to explicit music on iTunes.
- Block objectionable YouTube videos.
- Receive email and/or text alerts instantly when inappropriate website access is attempted.
- Activity reports provide you a complete view of all Internet and IM activity.
The Android Edition lets you choose categories to filter or add specific websites to access or block. Unlike other apps McAfee Family Protection for Android is built to work with the default browser on the mobile device. To prevent from bypassing McAfee Family Protection, it’s designed to block other browsers from running. Currently the app is not available for apple products and is not yet compatible with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
The Desktop version is $49.99 for up to three computers the Android app is $19.99
The Bottom Line:
McAfee Family Protection can protect your kids on up to three computers. Configuration is all Web-based, so settings affect all computers. It’s a good choice for parental control and monitoring. If you are looking for more robust features and controls you should consider other filters.
6. Net Nanny
Net Nanny is currently one of the leaders in web filtering and family security.
- Mask Profanity- View a web page without being bombarded by vulgar language.
- Monitor Social Media Sites without having to login to users account
- Create seperate user profiles for each family member.
- Receive reports and mail alerts about your child’s online activity.
- Instant Message (IM) and Cyberbully Protection.
Net Nanny offers a safe browser app for Android (iOS app coming soon) that filters the web and blocks requested sites. The app also prevents other unprotected mobile browsers from being opened. The App Manager lets you remotely view, block, or uninstall apps deemed inappropriate from the device. App Manager also lets you block in-app purchases.
The desktop version is $39.99 per year and it is $19.99 for the Android app (14 day free trial)
The Bottom Line:
Net Nanny works well on both Macs and PCs and is currently one of the most highly rated web filters. Once they release their app for the iPhone Net Nanny will be one of the most comprehensive web filters and monitoring sites available. The only downside is that it can get a little pricey if you have a lot of devices.
Mobicip’s online content filtering technology creates a safe, secure and educational Internet for Windows operating system on your child’s netbook, laptop, tablet or desktop.
- A rich and easy to use parental control application that can be accessed from any browser at any time
- Protect and monitor multiple users on multiple devices (subscription is per device) under a single parent account.
- Allow or block categories of websites in our database. For instance, you can choose to block social networking or instant messaging websites.
- YouTube is filtered dynamically based on your filtering level. Customize the YouTube to allow or block specific YouTube sub-categories. For instance, you can choose to allow Education and News categories.
- Blacklist Or Whitelist specific websites that you would like to block or unblock.
- Setup specific windows of time during the day or week when internet access is not allowed using a simple and intuitive interface.
- View detailed activity reports of Internet usage for each user across all devices.
- Receive reports by email on a weekly or monthly basis in PDF, CSV or plain text formats.
The Mobicip safe browser is available on all iOS and Android Devices. If you purchase the premium version of the mobile apps you receive the same features as you receive in the Windows version.
Mobicip on Windows 7 is $9.99 per year. Mobicip mobile apps are $4.99 with the premium versions (recommended) listed at $9.99. All prices are per device.
The Bottom Line:
Mobicip is one of the most popular web filtering apps for Apple and Android and its features are on par or better than other mobile apps available. If you are looking for a filter for a desktop or laptop we would recommend choosing Norton Family, Net Nanny or K9 Web Protection which offers more features and is designed as a desktop app first mobile app second.