How to use OpenDNS to provide boundaries for your kids internet access
A MESSAGE TO PARENTS
Of course, as parents we might not all agree on exactly what we should allow our kids to access on the internet. But most of us would agree that there should be SOME limits. If you don’t think so, maybe you aren’t really aware of what’s out there. A quick perusal of something like ogrish.com will give you some idea. These sites are full of disturbing content and miss-information (not to mention many have nasty virus’s etc. which can get on your computer by just visiting the website once).
If you want to protect your kids, there are several things you can do. We keep our kids’ computer out in the living room so we can literally keep an eye on them. It’s not like we hover over them and watch their every move, but I think it does discourage them from inappropriate activity. We also use something called OpenDNS to limit access to the net. For those not familiar with how DNS servers work, let me briefly explain. Whenever you type in an address to your internet browser that you want to go to, such as www.yahoo.com, that address is really an alias for the true address for Yahoo, which is a number like 188.8.131.52. It’s kind of like the difference between John Brown’s house and 123 Main st. Anyway when you type in www.yahoo.com, and hit enter, that ‘alias’ is sent out to a computer somewhere called a DNS server. That computer is like a phone book which takes the alias and looks up the actual address to ‘connect’ you browser to. Normally your internet provider provides the DNS server, and you won’t be aware of it. OpenDNS is an alternative that you can easily switch to . It allows you to easily restrict access to various different categories of content. It’s very easy to set up, you just have to change a setting on your router to tell it to use OpenDNS. Going to www.opendns.com you will see instructions on how to do this. It takes only a few minutes to set it up. One big advantage is that you make the change on your router, and only you have the password for your router, so you have complete control of ANY and ALL computers in your house (including iPod touch, your kids friends laptop they brought over, or any device using your wifi). OpenDNS also claims that your internet access will be faster and more reliable. Our experience seems to support that. When I had a question at one point, the OpenDNS support did respond fairly quickly. Standard disclaimer applies: we are not connected in any way to OpenDNS, just satisfied customers :-))
OpenDNS also has some phishing and botnet protection and some other useful features. And best of all it’s free! So, if you are reading this, maybe it’s time to look into it. I hope this didn’t sound too much like a commercial for OpenDNS, I’m sure there are other options (Webnanny etc) that work well too. I’m just mentioning OpenDNS since we use it, and it works extremely well. There really no excuse not to exert some control over what your kids are exposed to on the internet. You have the power to set the limits however you see fit. To find out more about whats being done to fight the choking game go watch our most recent TODAY show segment which aired Feb 8th. You will find it in the links tab under NEWEST TODAY SHOW SEGMENT. Check it out.
Best wishes to all and be safe.