Our Complete Guide to Web Filtering and Browsers

The Root of the Problem

The root of the problem when it comes to ‘Parenting Technology’ begins with what content comes into your home. There are typically three paths:

  • What comes via web browsing over Wifi
  • What comes via web browsing over cellular
  • What comes through the major content providers (YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, cable TV)

Parents need to consider all three sources when setting up parental controls. In this guide, we focus on web browsing and filtering, but have made sure to help you cover all the bases in Our Complete Guide to the Major Content Providers.  

Filtering for Web Browsers (Wifi and Cellular)

We recommend that parents limit their kids to one browser to sidestep having to set parental controls in one more place. We tested Safari Restrictions extensively and think they are fairly effective as they:

  • Automatically disable the Private Browsing Mode
  • Can be enabled for both iOS devices and Mac Computers
  • Filter out content on devices when using cellular or Wifi, so your child’s web-browsing activity is covered at home and on-the-go
  • Require a passcode to activate and make any changes

We also recommend targeting the other areas where kids are the most likely to stumble upon questionable content. Given that YouTube is the most popular platform among teens, and 81% of parents with kids under 11 permit their children to watch, we recommend activating YouTube’s Restricted mode. It’s important for parents to remember that YouTube is both an app and browser-based, so it is easily accessible via any web browser which is why we’re covering it in this guide.

For practical considerations and for most use cases, we believe that combining the following is fairly effective in protecting your kids from inappropriate content:

For Younger Kids:

KidzSearch Browser (Google has filtered out content)

or

Safari Browser with Safari Restrictions

+

YouTube Restricted mode 

For Older Kids:

Safari Browser with Safari Restrictions

+

YouTube Restricted mode

Parents should know that YouTube’s Restricted mode is easy for any child to deactivate. Because of this, we recommend that parents discourage their child from using the YouTube app, and be sure to use Safari Restrictions.  Safari Restrictions will still provide some protection in YouTube’s browser version even if Restricted mode is turned off, but do not work in the YouTube app.

There is YouTube Kids which already filters out content, but for a more dependable solution there is Mobicip. It is the only content filter that works for both youtube.com and the YouTube app, and it blocks private browsing (~$40/year).

See Our Guides.  

Setting Safari Restrictions

For iPhone/ iPad -iOS 11

  • Go to Settings > General >Restrictions 
  • Enter Restrictions Passcode or set one up
  • Scroll down to Websites and click on it
  • Select Limit Adult Websites
    • Choose if there are any websites you want to Always Allow or Never Allow (for example, youtube.com or amazon.com)

OR

  • Specific Websites Only (for younger kids) This setting is useful if you want to limit your child to a specific set of websites. For example, you may want to install a kid safe browser, such as Google’s KidzSearch (www.kidzsearch.com), PBS kids, and other learning sites as directed by school
  • Tap Done when you are finished

Note: When you select Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only, you subsequently also block your child from using the Private Browsing mode. Also, a KidzSearch app is available in the App Store for mobile devices

For iPhone/ iPad -iOS 12

  • Go to Settings and hit Screen Time 
  • Click on Content and Privacy Restrictions
  • Enter your Screen Time passcode
Tap on photo to zoom 
  • Toggle Content & Privacy Restrictions to the ON position
  • Tap on Content Restrictions
  • Tap on Web Content; under the Web Content section, and select either:
    • Limit Adult Websites
      • Choose if there are any websites you want to Always Allow or Never Allow (for example, youtube.com or amazon.com)
    • Allowed Websites Only (for younger kids)
      • This setting is useful if you want to limit your child to a specific set of websites. For example, you may want to install a kid safe browser, such as Google’s KidzSearch (www.kidzsearch.com), PBS kids, and other learning sites as directed by school.
Tap on photo to zoom 

Note: When you select Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only, you subsequently also block your child from using the Private Browsing mode. Also, a KidzSearch app is available in the App Store for mobile devices.

For the Mac

After creating a User Profile for your child:

  • Navigate to the Apple icon (top left of screen) and select System Preferences
  • Click Parental Controls
  • Click the lock icon to unlock it, then enter your administrator name and password

Tap on photo to zoom 

      Tap on photo to zoom 

  • Select the user you‘d like to activate Safari filtering for and click Enable Parental Controls
Tap on photo to zoom 
  • Under the Web tab, select either:
    • Try to limit access to Adult Websites
        • Choose Customize
        • In the pop up, you can choose if there are any websites you want to Always Allow or Never Allow (for example, youtube.com or amazon.com)
    • Allowed Access to only these Websites (a good option for younger kids)
      • This setting is useful if you want to limit your child to a specific set of websites. For example, you may want to install a kid safe browser, such as Google’s KidzSearch (www.kidzsearch.com), PBS kids, and other learning sites as directed by school

Tap on photo to zoom 

Note: When you select Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites Only, you subsequently also block your child from using the Private Browsing mode.

Setting YouTube Restricted Mode

For the computer:

  • Go to the account icon 
  • Click Restricted mode
  • Toggle on Activate Restricted mode

        

Tap on photo to zoom 

For the iphone/ipad (the browser version):

  • Go to youtube.com and click on the to the top right
  • Click on Settings within the pop up that appears
  • Tap on Restricted Mode  to activate it

      

Tap on photo to zoom 

For the iphone/ipad (the app):

  • In the top right, tap your account icon
  • Tap Settings 
  • Toggle on Restricted mode 

      

Tap on photo to zoom 

If parents want to monitor their kids on YouTube, they can:

  • Use Screen Time (iOS 12) to see how much time their kids are spending on it
  • Review Watch History found in YouTube’s Settings

See Our Complete Guide to YouTube for more information.  

When Safari Restrictions are enabled, but YouTube’s Restricted mode is Off

 

When Safari Restrictions are enabled and YouTube’s Restricted mode is ON

   

A Note about Chrome 

While Chrome is the most popular browser, we still believe that that Safari is the better option. Safari allows parents to lock settings with a parental passcode, whereas Chrome does not.  

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