Hello! We’re really glad you’ve reached out for help to protect your family online. The good news is there are plenty of options available.
Some are really simple but cost a bit of money; others are completely free but can take a bit of time to set up.
No matter how tech savvy you are (or aren’t), we’ll talk you through everything you need to know so your family can surf the internet safely.
In this guide we’ll cover:
- How to filter your family’s iOS (Apple) devices
- How to set up a blanket filter across all devices in your home
How To Filter Your iOS Device For Free
Apple does offer a built-in tools for its iOS devices. To make them foolproof we recommend using the Safe Surfer app as a double layer of protection.
Safe Surfer App
One of the easiest and most effective solutions is to download Safe Surfer’s app from the App Store. It’s FREE and will protect your families’ iPhones and iPads from all harmful websites including pornography. It will enforce safe search options on Google and other search engines so your kids don’t accidentally stumble across anything bad.
You’ll also be asked to set a pin so changes can’t be made – make sure you pick a pin that your children don’t already know or will easily guess.
Tip: Ensure your child isn’t screen recording when you enter the pin.
Click here to go to App Store, otherwise:
- Launch the App store on your iPhone or iPad
- Search for Safe Surfer in the search bar (it has a black and white flags logo)
- Press the ‘install’ button on the App’s page
- Now that the app’s installed, let’s launch it. You’ll be prompted to enter a pin-code which prevents your child from easily disabling the protection.
- To enable general protection, press the ‘Start’ button and ‘Allow’ the app to Add VPN Configurations when the dialog appears.
The Safe Surfer protection will start and the ‘Stop’ button will appear.
Note: Closing and reopening the app or pressing ‘Stop’ will prompt for a pin-code before the Safe Surfer protection can be stopped.
iOS Built-In Controls
Apple now has built-in screen and content settings on their devices to help you control what your children can see and do online, and how much screen time they can have.
A keyword filter can be enabled, and you can prevent family members from deleting their Safari or private browsing history so you can keep an eye on what they’re up to.
These content settings also work across other in-app browsers such as Instagram, Pinterest and Google Docs to filter out adult content sites.
- If you have iOS 12, you can activate these functions by tapping on ‘Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content > Limit Adult Websites.’
If you have iOS 11 & below, these parental settings can be found in ‘Settings > General > Restrictions.’
- To control what apps your child can install or delete, go to ‘Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes and App Store Purchases’. Then choose ‘allow’ or ‘don’t allow’ for installing apps, deleting apps and making in-app purchases.
Tip: Selecting ‘don’t allow’ will prevent your child from installing apps (this includes a Virtual Private Network or ‘VPN’ to override your filtering system) or stop them from deleting apps such as Safe Surfer without your knowledge.
- Set a iOS restrictions 4-6 digit passcode so the built-in filter settings can’t be changed and note the pin down somewhere safe (It isn’t easy to recover an iOS restrictions pin if it is forgotten).
Tip: Ensure that the phone isn’t recording in the background when you set the pin.
Screen Time Restrictions
Apple’s ‘Screen Time’ function (found in ‘Settings’) allows you to keep track of exactly how much time your family has spent using individual devices and limit time on certain apps.
You’ll also be asked to set a pin so the settings can’t can’t be uninstalled or changes made – make sure you pick a pin that your children don’t already know or will easily guess.
Tip: Ensure that you set up an Apple Family Sharing account and Child Accounts otherwise the Screen Time will not be enforced and can be snoozed.
You can check out daily and weekly reports and see precisely what’s happening. You can also schedule ‘downtime’ at certain hours of the day so only apps you choose to allow and phone calls will be available. Daily time limits for different app categories can also be set.
We think it’s great that Apple now offers these built-in controls. But we get even more excited when parents step up and intentionally guide and teach their kids how to use technology safely and appropriately.
How To Set Up A Blanket Filter Across All Devices In Your Home
Let’s face it, most homes these days have multiple devices operating at once – smartphones, iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, Smart TVs and more. It can be hard to keep an eye on what everyone is up to!
You have two options to solve this problem – buy Safe Surfer’s Lifeguard device and plug it into your router, or reconfigure your router to block access to harmful sites.
Reconfigure Your Router
Changing the DNS servers on your router is an effective and free way of blocking access to harmful content such as pornography. Any device operating on your WiFi network will pick up these settings and be protected.
DNS stands for Domain Name System and it’s like the phone book of the internet. It links a website’s name (eg google.co.nz) to your IP address (which is like a destination).
For a step-by-step guide on what to do, click here safesurfer.co.nz/how-to-set-up-your-home-router-to-block-pornography-for-free/
Safe Surfer Lifeguard Device
This is the simplest way to achieve 24/7 protection across your home’s Wi-Fi network. It costs NZ$164.35 and you can buy one online here.
This device comes out of the box with the best safety settings already applied. Just plug it into your router and it will block offensive and unsavoury content, enforce ‘safe search’ results on Google, Bing and other search engines, and allow you to choose which categories (such as violence, swearing, illegal downloads) and which social media sites to either block or allow.
You can also customise your settings to set device bedtimes, block specific sites for each device or view browser history for every device in the home. Easy.
Struggling to keep your kids safe online? Purchase your lifeguard device today.