UPDATED 14:00 EDT / NOVEMBER 26 2015

NEWS

Free alternatives to keeping the Internet safe for kids

New devices were recently launched that aimed to help parents keep an eye on what their kids are accessing on the Internet — or keep them off sites and apps that are not appropriate for their age. But these devices come at a price. Circle with Disney costs $99. And Luma, which is a combination of a Wi-Fi system that boosts the Internet and also offers parental controls, has an early bird special price of $99 but won’t be shipped until next year.

To keep kids from accessing sites that are not meant for them, there are some great, free alternatives that are easy to download and use.

OpenDNS

Earlier this year, Cisco Systems, Inc. acquired OpenDNS, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud-based security firm. OpenDNS offers cloud security by extending the Domain Name System (DNS) by adding features that protect customers from malware, botnets, phishing and other targeted online attacks. It offers three tiers, two of which are free, but still offers formidable protection and control.

Family Shield promises faster, reliable Internet, built-in fraud and phishing detection, and parental control that protects every home device instantly. It is pre-configured to block adult content. As for Home, it offers the same benefits, but instead of being pre-configured to block adult content, users can customize filters and security measures.

For $19.95 a year, VIP Home offers the above-mentioned features, plus it retains Internet stats for the past year and is able to restrict access to specific white-listed domains for a “locked-down” environment.

Using OpenDNS, a user can choose to implement the protection right on their router so everything that connects to it is automatically protected. Or a user can choose specific computers or mobile devices to implement such protection on.

Learn more about OpenDNS’ offerings here.

Qustodio

This service allows parents to monitor and control what their kids can access on their mobile device or computer in three simple steps. First, a parent must create their Qustodio account and download Qustodio on their kids’ devices (it works with Windows, Mac, iOS and Android). Then, using the Qustodio web-based family portal, they can easily manage their kids’ devices.

Qustodio has real-time filters that block pornography, and even if a browser’s private mode is turned on, porn sites are still inaccessible. Parents can also monitor how much time their kids spend on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and others; set Internet limits on multiple devices so kids won’t spend the whole day stuck on their devices; set time limits on apps and games, or even set it up so they can’t access specific apps; and monitor who kids are calling and texting or set up a list of blocked contacts. And there’s also a location tracking and Panic Button feature so parents can keep an eye on their kids’ whereabouts, as well as give them something that they can use in case of emergencies.

Learn more about Qustodio’s offerings here.

Mobicip

Mobicip, LLC offers to protect computers, tablets and smartphones. It is compatible with devices running iOS, Mac, Windows, Android and Chrome and offers three tiers, basic which is free, premium for $39.99 a year, and enterprise, which businesses can request a quote for.

The basic package comes with pre-defined filtering levels, unlimited Internet usage, advance content filtering and a “safe browser” app for iOS and Android. It protects any browser when using Windows 7 or 8 and offers age-based filtering and strict safe search and utilizes a cloud database for app filters to keep up with the evolving Internet.

It also features an intelligent real-time content filtering engine that uses advanced heuristic algorithms to dynamically analyze and rate every single website, blog or web content as it is accessed. Parents can also be sure that what their kids are watching on YouTube is appropriate, as it is able to filter content based on the title, description or keywords. And finally, it encrypts all Internet traffic for over-the-air protection at unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots.

Learn more about Mobicip’s offerings here.

Photo by Yu. Samoilov

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