How to block adult content using free OpenDNS
We are often asked how you can set up a computer or mobile device so any inappropriate adult sites are automatically blocked. While you can purchase software that does it, it is really easy to set things up using OpenDNS, which is a free internet security service. The entire process just takes a couple minutes to complete. Please note that nothing is 100% perfect, so we still suggest always having adult supervision around when kids are online.
OpenDNS will definitely block porn sites, but certain domains, like YouTube.com that may contain r-rated content will still be available. You can signup for a free account with OpenDNS (home version) and register your IP address with them. Once you do that, it will let you add customized sites to block in addition to the standard ones they supply, like YouTube.com. You can also whitelist sites that you want to appear which may be blocked.
iPad, iPhone and Android Mobile Devices
1.) Go to your Settings section and tap on your WiFi icon.
2.) Click on the details section of your wireless provider. On an iPhone you will see an ‘i’ with a circle around it. You want to edit the wireless settings for your current provider by tapping on the ‘i’, or whatever links gets you to the DNS editor.
3.) The next step is what will give you automated filtering and it involves changing the DNS settings. Before you change it, be sure to write down what is currently set so you can go back to regular non-filtered settings if needed. It will be a set of numbers like “22.214.171.124”
4.) Click on the DNS numbers and erase them by back spacing. Next, add a DNS provider that filters websites. We like OpenDNS Family Shield. You need to use the following for OpenDNS.
Enter it exactly as shown above. Double check your entry and click return/done when finished.
You might also find that the parental controls on a newer iOS device are good enough so that you don’t even need to use a DNS content filter, but the extra layer of safety cannot hurt.
On an Android Device, including the Kindle Fire, you will need to go to settings / Wi-Fi and then press and hold your current connection for a few seconds. Select Modify Network and be sure Show Advanced Options is selected. Change the IP settings from DHCP to Static. Next, page down the list of options until you see DNS 1 and DNS 2. This is where you would change it to use Open DNS Family Shield (126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52).
Important Note: If you don’t see the Save button, it may mean that you need to re-enter the IP address field. Write down what it currently shows and enter it again. The Save button should appear again.
If you are having problems getting the change to work and have access to the Playstore, there are apps like DNSChanger that can do this for you. For Kindle Fire tablets, you can try using the WiFi Settings App. An added advantage to using it is that you get protection on mobile carrier networks as well as your home router. Be sure to select OpenDNS as your default DNS and change the IP address after selecting OpenDNS so that the last 3 digits are ‘123’ which gives you family shield protection (184.108.40.206, 220.127.116.11). The default OpenDNS settings will not provide full protection with adult websites and mostly just block malware sites, so make sure to change them.
You now have OpenDNS installed which will keep your mobile device safe by blocking any adult sites. You should really also use a Safe Search Engine, like KidzSearch.com as your default search engine since you need to know what safe sites are available that won’t get blocked by OpenDNS when doing a search. Further, even with OpenDNS, an image search using a site like Google.com will still given potentially unsafe thumbnails in the search results based on the terms entered.
For added safety, we strongly suggest also using Parental Settings and blocking all web browsers and unapproved App downloads. You can usually delete a web browser app by just holding down the icon until an ‘x’ delete symbol appears, or you see a trashcan icon at the top of the screen. Delete the the icon, or drag/drop it into the trashcan. You can do the same thing for integrated search boxes that appear on the main tablet screen. Just hold it down and delete them. You want to remove all possible access to the default tablet web browsing devices, since that is main way kids will get into trouble.
You can then use the Free KidzSearch App as your tablet or mobile phone browser, which will prevent outside website links from being entered directly (sites can only be searched using the SafeSearch engine provided). Installing the free KidzSearch App just takes a minute and there is no setup or signing up for anything. It will make your setup a lot safer and block adult thumbnail search results. In addition, OpenDNS settings may not work if the tablet or phone is being used on a 3G/4G outside signal, such as if you are away from your wireless home router. The KidzSearch App will give you backup safety when this happens. It is also a lot simpler in case your are not able to configure OpenDNS on your device, even for home use. However, we still suggest always using OpenDNS if possible for added safety.
More detailed instructions for using OpenDNS are available from the OpenDNS Website that covers just about any mobile device, but the process is all the same in that you only need to change the DNS provider.
Alternative DNS Services to Block Porn Sites
The following services can also be used to block adult content. It is often just a matter of personal preference when choosing what is best for you. The procedure is exactly the same as described above, but uses different DNS IP numbers.
Primary DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
Secondary DNS Server: 22.214.171.124
Primary DNS Server: 126.96.36.199
Secondary DNS Server: 188.8.131.52
Primary DNS Server: 184.108.40.206
Secondary DNS Server: 220.127.116.11
Primary DNS Server: 18.104.22.168
Secondary DNS Server: 22.214.171.124
Locking Your Settings
For extra security, there are numerous apps that will lock your settings so a password is required to make a change to them, such as Mobile Fence. This will keep a more adventurous child from changing the DNS settings. Some of these apps also claim to block adult websites, but based on some testing we did, they were just not nearly good enough in our opinion and still required using the OpenDNS Server filtering to properly block adult content.
We also strongly suggest protecting what apps can be downloaded. Just click on the settings menu when in the app store and select Content Filtering. You can then set it to the appropriate level, such as only showing Everyone rated apps. Requiring a password to make any purchases is also a very good idea too and can be activated via the settings menu.
Making your Desktop or Laptop Safe
This is very similar to the change made for safe mobile browsing. You need to change the DNS settings.
The procedure for Windows 10 is as follows:
1.) Right click on the start menu and select Network Connections. Next, right click on the connection you are using (it must be active with no red cross over it). Select Properties from this new list.
2.) Look for ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’ and select it. Click on the Properties button.
3.) Change Obtain DNS server address automatically to “Use the following DNS server address and enter 126.96.36.199 as primary and 188.8.131.52 as the alternate. Click Okay to finish.
On Windows 8 go to Control Panel -> Network and Internet ->Network Sharing Center
1.) Click on your current Ethernet link.
2.) An Ethernet status box will come up. Click on the properties button.
3.) On the list, select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) located near the bottom.
4.) Click on properties.
5.) Change the bottom selection from “Obtain DNS server address automatically” to “Use the following DNS server addresses:” and enter
as your primary address
as the alternate DNS address.
If you need more details with step by step pictures click here . Information for configuring other operating systems is also available.
Your computer/laptop is now secure.
Flushing Your DNS Cache
You may need to flush your DNS cache for the settings to hold.
First, go to a command prompt window. In the programs run input box (click on the start menu to get to it, or use the “Ask me anything” box for Windows 10), type: ‘cmd’ followed by enter. Next, type ‘ipconfig /flushdns’ and hit enter. You may also want to reboot your computer too. Do not include the single quotes when typing things.
This is for more advanced users, but you can also configure your wireless router to make any device that connects to your router filtered by following these instructions on the OpenDNS site.
Dealing with YouTube
YouTube is a wonderful resource with just about any video ever made on it. Blocking it can be limiting for some people. With OpenDNS set, it will automatically filter YouTube videos so they are in “Safety Mode.” If you want to restrict YouTube videos without relying on OpenDNS, we have an article that explains how to turn on YouTube Safety Mode. You will need to decide for yourself if the Safety Mode settings on YouTube are good enough, but it is the best available. On KidzSearch.com we do not allow YouTube videos and have many child-friendly alternative video sites as good alternatives that are all reviewed safe videos.
You can also choose to use the YouTube App for kids A negative to this app is that the videos available may not match your child’s interest and they tend to be more commercial in nature. Older kids may find it too childish for them. However, it will give you video safety.
Safe Web Search Engines
Using DNS filtering will prevent adult sites from appearing, but you will still get adult content in the search results, including what might be offensive thumbnails, if you are using a regular search engine, like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. However, they will be blocked if a child tries to open one of the adult links. A major problem is that you can still get explicit titles and even adult thumbnail images appearing. A better approach is to use DNS filtering coupled with a SafeSearch website, such as KidzSearch.com. This method will block adult websites that are typed in a browser as well as blocking them from even showing up in the search results. You can also configure Google.com to only return SafeSearch websites, but that can get reset if cookies are cleared or if a different device is used by your child. On a mobile device we suggested using the KidzSearch App
Using Browser Plugins to Block Sites
Many browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox support the use of plugins/add-ons to provide more features. They allow you to block specific websites. For example, you might want to block search engines, like Google.com, Bing.com, etc., that are not blocked by OpenDNS, but can lead to bad sites if typed directly into a browser and then used to find adult content. The plugins will allow you to enter them directly and password protect them from being changed. A good free one for Chrome is Block Site, but there are many more that can be found by doing an online search.
Manually Blocking Websites in Hosts Files
You can block specific sites, like YouTube, etc., from being viewed on desktop computers by editing your host files. On a Windows computer, open NotePad in Administrator mode. You can do this by right clicking NotePad and selecting “run as Administrator”. Next, open your ‘hosts’ file using NotePad. It is typically found in C:/ Windows/System32/drivers/etc but it may vary based on your operating system. The hosts file does not have any extension. like .txt, or icon associated with it. You can also do a search for it. Scroll to the end of the hosts file and type
127.0.0.1 <website url> to manually block a website. Repeat this for each website you want blocked.
When you are done adding all the sites you want to block, save the changes. If you can’t save it or open the file, it means you are not running NotePad in Admin mode, The computer will not be able to visit the listed sites. You can add has hash tag ‘#’ before a listing to allow it back as a comment, or just delete the entry.
Note: Some websites, such as KidzSearch.com and most other safe search engines rely on Google.com for the initial results, which are later filtered for safety. Blocking Google.com can cause no results on these safe search websites.
In addition to the free options discussed, you can subscribe to paid website monitoring services. One of the largest and most trusted is NetNanny which has been around for over 15 years. NetNanny charges a monthly fee and automatically interfaces with your website browser or tablet. It keeps pornography from appearing on a computer or tablet. You can also limit internet usage time. NetNanny provides usage reports on their interface or by sending you e-mail alerts. If you have more than one child to protect that may have different filtering needs based on age, you can setup multiple accounts for different children.
Hardware devices, such as Meet Circle give another solution. They provide you with a special DNS router that filters content across all devices in your house. Meet Circle also has a monthly wireless service for protection on the go for tablets. Once the device is configured, all devices connecting to it will be protected, which is a nice feature. One of the disadvantages with them is the relatively high cost and complexity of setting it up.
We still suggest using a kid-friendly search engine with these services, such as KidzSearch, since it will always protect children, even if they are on a computer that is not protected, such as at a friend’s house. They also provide a better search experience with websites that are most suited for kids appearing at the top of the results, larger thumbnails, and many other benefits.