Being a parent of two children at St Stephen’s School , I have always been concerned about the Internet in our home. My children are involved in internet searches for their school projects and enjoy online games in their spare time. So, since they first began to use the computer, we have used content filtering software to block inappropriate content from entering our home. Some of these programs were free, but these are now unavailable. So for the last two years I have been using OpenDNS.
How does OpenDNS work?
Typically your traffic is routed through DNS servers through your Internet Service Provider (iiNet, Telstra, etc). Instead of using a default DNS server, you can point your wireless router to direct traffic through OpenDNS. Now that OpenDNS is performing the translation of website domain names and IP addresses for all of the traffic in your network, they can refuse to resolve a domain if the website is listed in a blocked category.
OpenDNS will filter all traffic through your wireless or wired network!
How to Set up OpenDNS
1. Sign-up for OpenDNS
Go to the OpenDNS site for Parental Controls. You can chose between ‘OpenDNS Home’ or ‘OpenDNS Family Shield.’ They are basically the same, however, I chose the OpenDNS Home route because I wanted to be able to customize our filtering more.
Simply by changing the DNS servers in your router, you can block objectionable material automatically. Generally, you can get to your router through a web link:
Going to this IP address will bring up the control panel for your router. Your control panel may or may not have a password to gain access. Check your router’s manual for the default password and change it once you login. You can usually find the manual online. Just type the router’s model number with the word “manual” in a Google search. When in doubt, try the username as “admin” and the password as “password” or blank. You can get specific instructions for your router at the OpenDNS website:
Once you go through the sign-up process and confirm your e-mail address, OpenDNS will automatically detect the home network IP Address. It is likely in Perth that your home IP address changes (depends on Internet Service Provider,) you may want to get OpenDNSUpdater.
2. Set up filtering levels for Internet Safety
I set up moderate filtering on my account. You may want to go through the categories to see if you would like to visit sites within a certain category. For example, if Dad likes to play Lotto, you may want to allow the ‘Gambling’ category. Or, you could add Lotterywest to the custom domain allowed list.
Check to see your internet filtering is working.
In order to achieve Internet Safety for the home we need to test the web filter. But how do you test a web filter? I don’t know any porn sites? I don’t want to visit any porn sites!!
OpenDNS has two sites you can try to make sure your filter is working.
OpenDNS Welcome Page – This tells you that your OpenDNS is running and configured for that device.
Example Adult Site – http://exampleadultsite.com – OpenDNS owns this domain. You can click on the link to make sure that the desired web filters are active.
Blocked Site Image: Your kids can send a message to the “Administrator” to give you a reason why they should be allowed to view the site. You will get an e-mail from your OpenDNS account regarding the request.
Boundaries of Internet Safety Filtering – Once a device leaves your wireless network it will not have any filtering enabled. Consider installing a filtered web browser app like ‘K9′ on your kids iPad, because you know they will be accessing it at multiple friends houses. Here’s a link to a tutorial on Internet Safety for Apple mobile devices. (All traffic is filtered when your child is at school and connected to the St Stephen’s wireless network.)