Rated G: For All Audiences

Censorship is disagreeable to some for various reasons, but few deny the need to protect young and fragile minds from inappropriate media. Many would agree that a parent has the right, as well as the responsibility to ensure that their kids are kept safe from from the gazillion bytes of questionable content found on the Internet today.

Rating is a method of classifying content so that people can decide the suitability or otherwise of content before they consume it. Unfortunately, rating hasn’t quite caught on on the Internet: there is no uniform infrastructure for specifying rating, and web browsers do not properly allow filtering.

This troubling situation means that people with Internet access at home can only hope that their kids use it responsibly, or perhaps resort to software that may not be entirely foolproof (of which I don’t know any).

A solution exists. And I believe it is good enough to be worth recommending: www.opendns.com .

The two-minute guide to filtering your net access involves simply setting your DNS servers to:
208.67.222.222
and
208.67.220.220

The procedure for doing this depends on your Operating System or Router. You simply replace the ISP supplied DNS servers with those two above. There is no loss of functionality (except for blocked access to filtered sites, which you can configure on www.opendns.com ) and no decline in performance either, so if you’ve been looking for a way to filter your Internet access, you’re out of excuses now.

A smart kid may find out a way to replace the DNS entries on his PC or laptop with unrestricted DNS servers, thus, nullifying the filtering, but if this is used together with access control (you revoke the kid’s ability to modify network settings at the operating system level) which again, varies according to operating system, you can ensure that the only Internet access they get is through the filtered pipe. There are other corner cases where OpenDNS can be circumvented as well, but if your kids figure those out, you probably should counsel them to apply their ingenuity to more positive things, since the nature of DNS can’t cover those cases.

On Microsoft Windows systems, as far as I know, the only way to remove someone’s ability to change network settings is to assign a Guest account to them. On Linux, it is simply a matter of removing the appropriate tick when creating their user account. I expect Apple’s OSx to be similar to Linux.

You can have control over the extent of filtration, you just need to create an account. I encourage you to visit www.opendns.com to find out more about this useful service.

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Random quote: I try not to break the rules but merely to test their elasticity. — Bill Veeck

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