Do you have children? Would you like to configure your home network to easily block adult content? Here’s an easy and affordable way to setup adult content filtering for all Macs, PCs, iPhones and iPads on your network. Sign-up for OpenDNS’ free FamilyShield service.
In recent years, when I’ve been asked to setup adult content filtering, I’ve recommended applications like Intego’s ContentBarrier which now appears to be part of Intego’s Family Protector product. This application gets installed on each computer on which protection is needed. This solution is no longer affective if you have iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches on your home network since ContentBarrier or comparable applications do not exist for the iPhones and other iOS devices. This is where FamilyShield comes in handy.
FamilyShield works by modifying the configuration of your wireless router. All network traffic in and out of your home network travels through your wireless router. Thus, by reconfiguring your wireless router, you affect all devices on your network, including computers, mobile devices and gaming consoles like XBoxes.
I should mention the protection offered by FamilyShield can be pretty easily defeated by somebody who understands how networks work. So it’s not a perfect solution if you have a savvy teenager who wants to get around it. However, FamilyShield could be an appropriate solution for younger children. OpenDNS also offers a paid service named OpenDNS Home VIP which might be more difficult to defeat, but because OpenDNS’ site doesn’t do a good job of highlighting the additional features included with this paid service, the degree of increased protection is unclear. It’s also possible that over time FamilyShield might become more robust.
I’m also watching a couple of other products that provide content filtering for your entire network. They included two wireless routers, the iBoss Home Parental Control Router/Firewall and Pandora’s Hope. iBoss has a range of other network products for home and business users so they appear to be a well-established company, but reviews of the iBoss are mixed, like this one and this other one. I couldn’t learn much about the Pandora’s Hope router or the company that makes it. This PR article indicates that the company started selling products in 2009 and that the current model was released in 2011. I couldn’t find any reviews by computer industry reviewers. The iBoss and Pandora’s Hope cost $40 and $160 respectively and then have recurring annual costs of $60 and $20 respectively. I’m not convinced that this money is well spent in comparison to the free FamilyShield service.
None of the solutions that I could find are perfect, but, for the time being, if you want to prevent children using computers, mobile devices and gaming consoles in your home from accidentally or intentionally finding adult content, I would check out OpenDNS’ free FamilyShield service. If I find a more robust solution, I’ll update this article.