Get your tech gear Family Safe for the Holidays.
Posted by Joseph Calamita on 12/20/2016
As the holidays quickly approach, it is a good time to catch up on some of the latest ways to create a safe environment for children to use internet-aware products.
The Xbox one is the latest greatest game system from Microsoft. It is based on Windows 10, so a lot of the great features for Family Safety also applies to the Xbox. Here is a great article with some tips on getting the Xbox ready for family usage.... Parents Guide to Setting up the Xbox One
Apple has really built out their Family Settings and parent controls. You can lock an iPhone or iPad to only allow apps to be purchased with parent approval and can even disable messaging and the Safari web browser. It can be a little complicated to set up parent/child accounts properly, so check out this great article from the folks at iMore... Parental Controls: The Ultimate Guide
Windows 10 has a pretty extensive Child safety section and does control other non-pc devices like Windows Phone and the Xbox One. Parents can limit access to the Internet, allow applications at only specific times, and get a report of your childs activity on the computer every week. For a step by step guide, check out gottabemobile's recent article... Parental Controls in Windows 10
Google also has parental controls in google chrome, ChromeOS (Chromebooks) and android. Though not as extensive as IOS or Windows, they still do a pretty good job of limiting a child's access to apps or specific websites. Some of these settings are the same settings we use to limit videos in Youtube or limit the types of websites students can access. Google's own Safety Center is a good starting point to learn the in's and out's of setting up a Google product for a child.
Finally, a couple of products to add to your network. Circle is small cube you add to your existing network that allows you to control access to apps and websites. You can grant specific access to each member of your house and limit access on specific devices. It is supported by Disney and even includes some access to videos, etc from Disney properties. The product is around $100 and includes no subscription fee. However, they do offer an additional service that extends the limits set by the Circle device to IOS (iPhone, iPad, etc) devices even when they are not in your house! There is a monthly fee, but may be worth the cost to limit phone access when your child is at school. For more info, check out meetcircle.com
OpenDNS is a great free product from Cisco that allows you to configure your router to filter websites and block adult content. There is a pre-configured setting and also the ability to customize some options. You can also setup the system to automatically go to websites when words are typed into your webbrowser. For example, you can configure your browser to open ESPN anytime the work "Sports" is typed into search. This is not as easy as Circle, but they do a great job of walking you through the setup process step-by-step and even include pictures for the most common routers. For more information, check out OpenDNS's Home Internet Security page.