How to Block Websites on a Mac

The Internet is a foundation of knowledge, but it’s also a gateway to unsavoury material. The last thing we want is for our children to venture into unknown territory online, so it can be useful to know how to block certain websites.

Use a Dedicated Application

With so many tools at our disposal, it should come as no surprise that there are many different applications that can help monitor your child’s Internet use, as well as blacklisting certain sites. The kind of program you use can depend on personal preference, but among the more popular are Net Nanny and Norton Family.

If you’re looking to safeguard several devices as well as your Mac, then it may be worth looking at something that’s a little more adaptable such as Family Zone. Regardless of whether you’re looking to safeguard devices around the home or within a school, there are several options available to ensure that Internet access is safeguarded at all times.

Set-up a Child-Friendly Profile

If you’d rather set up your own restrictions, then it can be a good idea to set up a profile exclusively for use by your children. It should be noted that you cannot apply restrictions to the main administrator profile.

Setting Up the Profile

You need to tap on Open System Settings, which can be accessed via the dock, or via the Apple logo in the top-left corner.

Create a New User Account

When creating a new account, ensure you click the option that reads Create a New User with Parental Controls. Once you have selected this, simply click Continue.

Should you already have an account set up (other than the administrator account) then you will be met with a different set of instructions. If this is the case you can simply move onto Web Parental Controls.

You will then need to fill out the details for the account, which includes name, account name and password. Once all fields have been completed, click Continue.

Web Parental Controls

Once an account has been set up, you will then be able to select how you want to block websites. To ensure that you make alterations to the correct account, ensure the account you want to change is highlighted on the left and click Web.

Once you access the web parental controls, you will be given three options. The first is to allow the account to browse all sites, which we obviously want to ignore. The second option is to allow Apple to automatically block websites, which is done by clicking Try to Limit Access to Adult Websites Automatically.

Although Apple will produce a blacklist, we shouldn’t take this at face value. As an algorithm is used, it could be the case that some sites are missed. As such, we should click the Customise option. From here, you can either allow access to websites that might have been restricted incorrectly, or add more sites to the blacklist.

When it comes to Internet usage by children, it can be advisable to use the whitelist method. To do this, you simply click Allow Access to Only These Websites and then start building your list accordingly. You will find that Apple comes up with a pre-set list of child-friendly websites, and you can add to this list by clicking the + symbol. Similarly, you can also take away any websites using the – symbol.

Once you have finished with the settings, you then need to lock them. This is done by clicking the padlock on the bottom left of the screen. Only those with a password for the account will be able to make changes to the settings.

Which Method is the Most Effective?

There can be many reasons as to why you wish to restrict certain website. In some instances, it can be to shield your children away from adult-related content, or it could be that you’re worried about who they’re contacting via social media. Those looking for a record of websites visited would be better using an application such as Family Zone. However, if it is solely restriction you’re looking for, then you’ll be able to attain this without an application using the above method.

How to Block YouTube

To begin in a completely honest mode and give you answers that are practical, it’s necessary to say there are several ways to block YouTube video content. The easiest method might be to simply go to the YouTube site on your web browser and set the Restricted Mode. You and other adults will be able to access the site but you will have some control over what children will be able to experience.

This may be enough to keep youth from viewing inappropriate and/or dangerous content. For example, one parent was able to restrict access to YouTube after her 11-year-old son viewed and took notes on how to make illicit drugs!

How to Set the Restricted mode on Youtube:

  • Sign in using an account children don’t have access to, which keeps them from turning the Restricted Mode off.
  • From the Home page, click on the letter at the upper right, generally one of your initials, then select Settings.
  • At the bottom of the page, you’ll see Restricted Mode, and "Off." Click on the triangle/arrow, scroll down, select "On" then Save.
  • You should also see the message stating you’re locking the Restricted Mode on this browser.

Repeat this process for other browsers that may be used, because the Restricted Mode setting applies only to the browser you changed it on. You should find the process the same with each browser.

This setting is optional, allowing you to screen content that you decide is objectionable. It’s a basic parental-control method for YouTube.

From Safety Mode to Restricted Mode

Just a few years ago, industry observers were touting the feature from YouTube known as Safety Mode. At that time, this was intended to help block others from seeing videos that might be objectionable or inappropriate to the person making the control decision. It was designed as a parental-control filter, and worked in a way similar to other computer-security software.

The key statement then, and now, is that no filtering/control ability is perfect, though the current Restricted Mode process outlined above should handle most of the situations in which a parent or educator may be involved. Employing a reliable parent-control software is also suggested by Google.

In addition, you might try setting up separate users on a shared computer, which gives you another monitoring step and control over a child’s activities. This means you’re the administrator of the computer, which allows you to personalize use and establish filters as you deem necessary.

This is certainly not an all-inclusive look at how to block YouTube or any other online service. But it should be enough to give you a good foundation for future success.

Additional Ideas

Family Zone Cyber Safety is a good choice for learning how to restrict video-viewing online. You’ll also benefit from removal of adult content, be able to manage social apps, online purchasing, manage screen time, and you’ll have access to support from cyber-experts.

Qustodio, Norton Family, and Surfie are also other great alternatives for parental control software. Any of these would be worth a try, in addition to Family Zone already mentioned.

How to Turn on SafeSearch

When browsing online, there is the danger of finding unsuitable content. This is especially worrying if we’re allowing our children to explore what the online world has to offer. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure that children are kept away from sites that may be upsetting or contain mature themes.

Enabling Safe Search on Google

If you have a Google account that your children use, then you can enable SafeSearch to limit the content found when using the search engine. To do this, simply log into your account from the Google homepage. From here, click on Settings and then Search Settings. Underneath the Safe Search Filters you will need to check the Turn on Safe Search box and then click save.

Enabling Safe Search on Bing

Changing the settings in Bing doesn’t require you to log in, although you can if you have a Microsoft account. To enable the SafeSearch settings, you need to click on the Setting icon in the right corner, which is characterised by three horizontal lines. You then need to click on SafeSearch Moderate. From here, you will be given three choices.

  • Strict: Filters all adult images, videos and text from search results.
  • Moderate: Will not filter adult text, but will restrict adult images and videos.
  • Off: Disables all adult filters.

Once you have selected a filter, you then need to click on Save. It’s important that cookies are enabled, otherwise the filters may not work.

Restricted Mode on YouTube

YouTube allows users to manage the content they view by offering a Restricted Mode. To enable Restricted Mode, visit the YouTube platform and click on the three dots at the top right-hand side of the screen. You will be then given a dropdown menu, which will include a Restricted Mode. Simply click on Restricted Mode, and YouTube will restrict the following subject matter:

  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Sexual-Orientated Content
  • Acts of Violence
  • Offensive Language
  • Mature Themes

It should be noted that any settings made will only apply to the browser. For example, if you made the changes within a Google Chrome browser, but then use Firefox to access YouTube, then none of the changes will be in place.

Drawbacks of Safe Search

There’s no denying that search engines and content providers are working hard to ensure children remain safe online. The issues arise from the way we connect to the Internet. While we can make changes to settings on certain devices and certain websites, it’s likely that access can still be accessed via a separated device or web browser.

Another drawback is that companies like Google will use an algorithm to determine what is deemed suitable content. For the most part, this works absolutely fine, but there can be instances where some websites weave through the filters, even though they may contain content that is unsuitable for the younger online population.

Alternative Solutions for Safe Web Browsing

If you feel changing the settings isn’t as effective as you’d like, then you may want to look at an alternative solution.

Those who are concerned about their child’s browsing habits can look at browsers designed exclusively for children, such as Kiddle or Kidsplorer. However, if you’re looking to employ a more tailored and reliable solution, then you may wish to sign up for a cyber security option.

Family Zone is one such company, and can offer parents a plethora of options to ensure their child’s online journey is a safe one. As well as restricting access to unsuitable websites, it also allows parents to monitor their child’s browsing habits.

How to Block Websites on an iPhone

Regardless of whether your child has their own iPhone, or uses yours on a regular basis, it stands to reason that you want to ensure they remain safe online. Fortunately, this is a straightforward process that can be carried out using the following processes.

Blacklisting Specific Websites

This option will allow for general web browsing, other than the sites you ask to be blocked. This is done by launching the Settings app from the home screen, then tap General, followed by Restrictions.

At this point you may need to Enable Restrictions. If you do, you will be asked to enter a four-digit password that your children won’t be able to work out. You will then need to enter the password again to confirm it.

From here, you then need to click on Websites, Allowed Content and then Limit Adult Content. To add websites, tap on Add a Website beneath the Never Allow tab, then click Done. You will need to repeat this process for each website you want to block. It’s also worth noting that if you’re looking to block specific websites, you will also need to block their mobile counterpart.

For example, if you want to block Facebook, you would need to block both www.facebook.com and m.facebook.com. Although they represent the same site, two different addresses are used, depending on whether the site is accessed by a mobile device or desktop. However, the mobile site could still be accessed via laptop.

Whitelisting Specific Sites

If you’re only looking to allow your child to access specific sites, then you may want to use the whitelisting methods. This blocks any websites other than those listed.

As before, launch the Settings app from the home screen, followed by General and then finally Restrictions. Again, you may need to enable descriptions, so you will enter a four-digit password as before, which will need to be confirmed.

You then need to tap on Websites, and then Specific Websites Only. As with the blacklist method, you will need to enter each website manually.

Are There Any Other Alternatives?

While the aforementioned are the most popular methods of restricting websites, there are other ways of restricting access to websites. However, these can be limited, but may prove to be useful in the correct settings.

If your child only has access to your iPhone via Wi-Fi, then you may want to log into your administrator panel to restrict access. The settings made within the router will apply to all devices, but won’t alter the settings of the device itself. So, if your child was to use the phone when out and about, then the settings wouldn’t apply.

The process of logging into your router can depend on the manufacturer. If you don’t have any instructions to hand, then you should be able to find them quite easily online. If your router was supplied by a broadband provider, then you could contact the company for further assistance.

Child-Friendly Browsers

While third-party browsers can’t eliminate the unsavoury websites from an iPhone altogether, it is an option that’s worth exploring if you just want to ensure that your child doesn’t stray onto the wrong path. If you search the application store, there are many child-safe browsers available, including Mobicip and Surfboard for Kids.

How to Block YouTube Channels

There can be several reasons as to why you may want to block a YouTube channel. For some, it makes for a more pleasant user experience. For others, it could be to safeguard the children in the home. Whatever the reason, it makes sense to find out what options are available, and which is best-suited to your needs.

There are several ways you can look to block certain YouTube channels and videos, depending on the outcome you’re looking for.

There can also be variations depending on the type of browser you use. The following will explore what options are available for blocking YouTube channels, as well as the browser they are associated with.

YouTube

The first port of call for many will be the video platform itself, and there is an option in place that ensures that certain content is restricted. This can be found by clicking on the three dots at the top right-hand side of the screen. These will bring up a series of options, including a Restricted Mode. Simply highlight this and click save, and any content containing adult themes, profane language and violence will be restricted, as will the viewing of some comments.

Google Chrome and Firefox

Both Google Chrome and Firefox are popular web browsers among Internet users as they allow for a truly tailored online experience. Both browsers allow for plugins to be added to restrict certain content. Plugins can be found on the following platforms.

Chrome Web Store Extensions

Firefox Addons

Searching each respective store will give you a series of plugins, depending on the keywords used. One of the more popular choices for blocking YouTube videos is “Video Blocker” which can be found on each respective platform using the following links:

Google Chrome

Firefox

Once the plugin is installed, you can amend the settings to restrict access to certain YouTube channels. While this is a potential fix, there is a drawback in that it only applies to the browser being used. While this is fine for younger children, those who are a bit more tech-savvy may have the hindsight to simply use another browser. As such, it won’t be suitable for everyone.

Cyber Security

Although there are solutions in place for the most part, there will be parents and those within the education sector who are looking for something a little more robust, and can be tailored more in relation to what content is being restricted. Cybersecurity platforms offer more security as they deal with the network, as opposed to specific device or web browser. This means that content can be restricted on several different devices, if they’re all connected to the same network. While there is a cost for using such methods, they do offer a sense of security that really can’t be fulfilled using other methods.

One such example is Family Zone a one-stop shop solution that caters for home networks, as well as more complex setups, like a school network. As well as being able to easily restrict access to YouTube content, it also allows users to restrict the time spent online, as well as disabling features such as the webcam. Usage reports can also be viewed for each person using the Internet with ease.

The Internet can introduce children to a world they never knew about, but like anything, it must be used in the right way. Knowing what options are available allows parents, guardians and those who work in education to ensure that there is a barrier against more mature content, allowing our children to flourish in the right way.

Best Parental Control Software Australia 2017

The internet age has brought about many great things, but as with all great things, there are also some major downsides such as scams, cyber bullying, pornography, and online child predators. Combined with the speed in which the internet landscape changes with new apps popping up every day, the need to monitor and block unwanted apps and websites from our children becomes ever more complex.

We’ve put together a roundup of our top 5 favourite products for parental control.

FamilyZone 4.7 Stars4.7 / 5

Family Zone’s Family Bundle worked out to be the best option for us. There is a bit of an upfront cost of $89AUD as of writing, but the ongoing $5.95AUD monthly fee was very affordable compared to the other services.

There are some key core features of parental control software; as a parent you want the software to block adult and other unsafe content, restrict social media, and schedule when screen time is allowed.

The Family Bundle does all of the above with some additional benefits on top – because you have an additional device between the vast internet and your router, anytime you have guests or naughty children over, their internet usage is also filtered and blocked accordingly. The app is available for both iOS and Android. The home router also filters all internet activity if you happen to have any devices outside of iOS and Android. The apps also have the ability to disable the camera and any in-app purchases.

Lastly, the icing on the cake would be the usage reports and alert service so that you are made aware of any undesirable access in real time so you can act swiftly and accordingly. They also have cyber experts from all around Australia who not only keep you up to date with the latest information, but also how to teach and talk to your children about cyber safety. These are experts who not only have children of their own, but also teach and research this area for their day to day business.

Circle with Disney 3.7 Stars3.7 / 5

Considering this is a Disney product, I was a bit disappointed with the execution of this. The setup was fairly easy and straightforward, they have an easy to use wizard setup for those non-technical parents. The filtering is very good, and you can impose internet time limits.

But that’s about it…

The Circle Go subscription is a bit more expensive compared to the other services mentioned here as it’s currently only available in US dollars. $99USD upfront for their Circle management device, and then $4.99USD per month for 10 devices.

Other benefits is that it is a Disney product after all, and you get some kid friendly benefits such as videos, memes, GIFs, music, and games. The only issue here is that Disney is not the only entertainment provider on the market, and your children will likely outgrow the Disney library very quickly.

Kaspersky Safe Kids 4 Stars4 / 5

Kaspersky is already a well known and established anti-virus and firewall service provider and it makes sense that they step into the cyber safety game. They bring that strong brand recognition and they certainly don’t disappoint.

Their anti-virus and firewall products are renowned for their web filtering algorithms and it is clearly applied here. With some amazing filtering options and search rules which are quick and easy to set up.

When it comes to social networks however, this is where they lose a lot of points. Currently only Facebook and VK monitoring are offered, and if you are not Russian, I can safely assume you will not know what VK is. Facebook alone is not bad, but it gets worse, you can only get alerts about status updates from your child from one day ago. That is all. In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, music.ly and whatever else has popped up since, this is quite lacklustre and a bit disappointing.

SafeDNS 2.8 Stars2.8 / 5

This is included only because many cyber safety blogs have mentioned it and I want to debunk this one specifically. SafeDNS is not designed specifically for parental control and cyber safety for children. Yes it does have some options for it, but it is not designed specifically for it, it would appeal to those who are a lot more technical and don’t mind spending time tweaking and playing around with settings.

Additionally, it also lacks some of the core features I mentioned above such as social network monitoring, real time alerts and time based scheduling. And for $20USD a year for 3 users, sure it’s cheap, but you get what you pay for.

ContentWatch Net Nanny 7 4.3 Stars4.3 / 5

One of the most expensive products we have reviewed, at it’s most expensive, it is $9USD per device for up to 10 devices, but it comes with a fantastic array of features such as Mac OS support, social network monitoring, access scheduling, and they have apps for all devices including Windows’ mobile OS. Net Nanny 7 is the only product we could find that even supported the Window’s mobile OS, so this may be a big win for you if you happen to be a user of this.

Considering it’s also the oldest product reviewed here, and although they have apps for handheld devices, there is a lack of social media monitoring. There’s no option to disable the camera or specific social media apps which, in today’s world, would be crucial.