Are you a concerned parent? Have no fear – every company behind all the popular browsers equally cares about keeping kids safe online. From Chrome and Firefox to Internet Explorer and Opera, the makers of these browsers have added a slew of built-in security features.
These features cover it all – from the option to add site exceptions and control cookies, to safe browsing mode and blocking access to certain sites by a user. Our guide will outline how to set-up parental controls in every popular browser.
Enable Parental Control in Chrome
Chrome may be picking up new users at a fevered pace in the last couple of years, but the one thing this browser lacks is built-in parental controls. Chrome does however have a few nifty security features that help in locking down this browser.
One is turning off Chrome’s ability to save passwords, so you can prevent your child from using certain sites you share, such as Netflix. To turn this off, go to “Settings > Show Advanced Settings.”
Find the “Passwords and forms” section and uncheck the box “Offer to save passwords I enter on the web.”
You can also manage which content is shown under “Content settings,” which is also in advanced settings area of Chrome. In this area you can control several aspects of images, from whether any images are shown at all, which cookies are saved and disabling certain plugins to make certain sites unusable.
Don’t forget, you can also control what exactly your child searches for in Google. You can lock “Google’s safe search,” so that your child can’t search for anything inappropriate.
Better Parental Control Using Chrome Extensions
There are however several Chrome-based parental control extensions. One of the most highly rated of these is “Nanny for Google Chrome.” This extension can block URLs, set time limits on sites and even blacklist sites you never want your kids to visit.
Another great Chrome parental extension to consider is “tinyFilter,” a customizable filter that will block sites containing any unquestionable content you pre-specified, from adult material to anything else you deem unfit. Also, a “Profanity filter” is included, which comes with a set of pre-defined words.
Great news too for parents who use Chrome – Chrome is planning on putting more parental controls in their next release, such as making it impossible to delete your browsing history without entering the right password. If you want to test what they’re like in beta mode, you can do so here.
Parental Control Options For Firefox
Firefox too has been criticized for its lack of built-in controls, however it does have some security settings a concerned parent might use. By going to “Options” and the “Security” tab, you can change whether any passwords will be remembered, which you can uncheck to ensure your child never has a password-protected online hiding place.
Also, one of the best things about Firefox is that it meshes well with security settings you’ve set-up in Windows, such as stopping unwanted downloads, website filtering settings or blocking certain users from certain sites. There are also a number of good parental control extensions for Firefox.
Better Parental Control Using Firefox Addons
One of the most popular is “BlockSite.” This extension has 199,000 users and counting and it does an impressive job of blocking URLs you designate, as well as further disengaging any links that go to these sites. You can also create black and white lists of sites you want to permanently block or allow.
“FoxFilter” is another filtering extension for blocking adult material and it works by having the user select from various categories that cover everything anything a parent might disapprove of, from drug use and plagiarism to adult material dating sites.
Parental Control Options in Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer may not be the big dog anymore in the world of browsers, but it still soars above the rest when it comes to parental controls. Microsoft made sure of that years ago when the rest of these browsers were just an idea. To access them, go to “Internet Options” and select the “Content” tab. Here, find the “Content Advisor” area and click “Enable.”
In this area, make sure you’re in the “Ratings” tab and select from the dozens of “blocking” categories, from depictions of drug use to sexual material.
Also in this area, you can adjust the slider to various limitation settings.
Under the “Approved Sites” tab is where you can create a list of approved sites.
As for extensions made for IE that take parental controls even a step further, these do exist. However, many are new and awaiting user ratings. There is one add-on that’s the most popular, the “ParentalControl Bar,” a toolbar that blocks adult websites and other sites you specify.
Parental Control Options in Opera
For those who use Opera, a lesser-known browser from Scandinavia, this browser struggles a bit with solid parental controls. It does however allow users to change whether passwords are saved, by going into the main menu to “Settings,” and then clicking the “Privacy & Security” option in the left sidebar. In this window, find the “Passwords” section and click to uncheck the box that says, “Offer to save passwords.”
You can also block all images in Opera, or add site exceptions for images in “Settings.”
As for parental control extensions in Opera, one of the best Opera add-ons that gets the job done is Disconnect, an add-on that blocks any sites you specify. While it wasn’t invented strictly for parental control, the option to use it as such is quite nice. It will also stop 2,000+ third-party sites from tracking your child’s online activities.
You can also install any parental control extensions made for Chrome in Opera. All you need is the latest version of Opera. Click to see how it’s done.
Also don’t forget, you can use a desktop application to put parental controls inTO your browser of choice. Either Open DNS or K9 Web Protection are solid options and provide a whole slew of parental controls at your fingertips, such as filters, time restrictions, forced save searches and overriding web pages.
Your first line of defense in keeping your kids safe whenever they go online is in your browser itself. While some might be too smart for browser limitations, it’s the best place to start. Whether you use Chrome, Firefox, IE or Opera, you can never do too much. If you haven’t set-up parental controls in Windows yet, here’s how it’s done in Windows 8 and in Windows 7.