Trevor has a special needs teenager and he needs to get her a phone that has no access to the internet but can send text messages. Leo says don't completely rule out a smartphone as there are plenty of apps out there for special needs people. But it can be risky, so maybe waiting on a smartphone is a wise idea. The iPhone has excellent parental controls though. A feature phone, or flip phone, is inexpensive and you may be able to get one for free. But texting is a lot harder on a flip phone.
Gary wants to be able to know when members of his family login, where they go online and for how long. Leo suggests NextDNS. It's a new DNS standard that has a lot of great features. It's known as a "pie hole," and it can be used to monitor and block suspect websites and bad activity. You go into your router and input the NextDNS DNS settings. It'll also give you privacy since your activity is no longer routed through your ISP. And you can get blacklist and whitelist options, and a huge page of analytics by device.
Scott got his daughter an iPhone 7 and he wants to know the best way to lock it down to protect her online activity. Leo says that there are parental controls built into the iPhone, but there are apps that really take it to a new level. He can block apps and features as well. He can even white list numbers that would allow calls while disallowing others. He should also look at what restrictions the carrier offers. There are kid friendly browsers. iBlacklist will filter calls and SMS.
Ron got his granddaughter a Google Tablet and his parents want him to set it up with parental controls. Leo says that there's built-in settings for Google Play. He could also restrict it at the router level using OpenDNS and the router's own settings. This won't help when the phone is taken outside of the home network, however, so here are some options that can run on the phone itself:
Pedro created an account at OpenDNS but it isn't working for him. Leo says that OpenDNS can protect kids with a custom "phone book" that has a list of approved domain names in it. OpenDNS can then filter out the undesired addresses that he wouldn't want. If he inputs the router server settings of OpenDNS properly, it'll filter the traffic correctly. But if his kids have figured out how to change the settings in the computer, it can override that, unless he's made the settings in the router itself.
Jennifer wants to be able to control all her kids' devices at the router level so they can't work around it or stay up all night. She's also concerned the Verizon FiOS router could stop working. Leo says it may be a good idea to get an additional router for wireless applications and turn off wireless capability in the Verizon router, and just keep it wired. She should use the Apple Airport Extreme. Then she can work with the settings in the Airport under the Access Control List.
Don wants to be able to cut off access to the internet with a touch of a button. Leo says that some routers allow him to do this by MAC address (called an "access control list"). They can set the internet to go off at certain times. He can also go to OpenDNS.com and use their DNS system to filter out unwanted websites. This will work for smartphones as well.
Esther would like to monitor her teenagers' activity online. Leo says that parents should have every tool they can, but one thing she can do is change her DNS settings to use OpenDNS.com. That's the "phone book" that routes web traffic to the appropriate addresses. OpenDNS has great parental filters and blocks, and a lot of schools and business use it.
You may have seen programs that are meant to block websites and protect your kids online, but these can cost a lot of money and aren't the most effective solutions. For instance, if that software is just on the home PC, kids could use a different device to still access undesirable websites. Kids are also very good at finding ways to bypass this software altogether. There is a free and more effective way to do this, though, and that's through the DNS.
Max has teenage girls and they live on the Internet. What can he do to limit their use? Leo says that most routers can limit time. Apple's Airport can limit time and even restrict specific computers (look in the advanced settings and filter by MAC address). He should also lock down his router with password protection. He can also use OpenDNS to limit where they can go.