Free Internet Parental Controls
I’d like to make some of you aware of a free way to implement “parental controls” on your computers. (I used quotes there because the Internet has so many pitfalls that I’ve found this useful for myself.)
I have no connection to the service I’m going to describe. I just think some people would benefit by it. So here it is.
First, how it works. Every time you call up an Internet site, your machine sends out a DNS request, which finds the numeric site location on the Internet. Usually, your ISP takes care of this for you, but some companies have arisen that specialize in DNS service, and they often do a better (ie, faster) job.
One such company, OpenDNS.com, took an extra step and amassed a huge database on sites. Their services are free and you don’t even have to sign up, but if you do open an account (also free) you can configure it to block what you don’t want your computer to load. So you could block porn, liquor ads, violent sites, gross-out sites, etc. There are over a hundred categories you can parse through and make your own choices.
To activate the service, all you need to do is switch your DNS servers. Here is how to do it on an XP machine.
But if instead you make the change on your router, all machines on your home/office network will automatically be covered at the same time.
I’ve used this service for a couple of years, and found it excellent in every way. And I’ve installed it on friends’ systems also, to help them protect their kids.
I’m not an expert in parental controls, and there may be better ways to do them, but this way is very clever and AFAICS, quite effective. And it is absolutely free.