How to set up parental controls on a computer, tablet or smartphone

There are tons of things on the Internet that you really don’t want to show your children. From dubious sites demanding money to forbidden adult content. How to make your Internet surfing safe? Set parental controls, of course!

What are parental controls?
Parental Controls are software and tools that allow parents to control their children’s Internet use. This is a great way to keep your child from accessing inappropriate content online.

Control types
At the network level. Installed directly on the router and applied to all devices connected to the router on the home network (covering all home gadgets).
At the device level. Installed on the device itself, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer, and is applied regardless of when and where the device is connected to the Internet.
At the software level. Installed on the operating system or application being used. For example, Google search settings or YouTube video viewing. You need to make sure that restrictions are set on every device that your child has access to.
What can you control?
Filter and block content that you don’t want children to see, such as violence and pornography.
Set time limits on how long children can be online.
Control the time of day when children can go online.
Set up different profiles so that each family member has the appropriate level of access.

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Home broadband control
Most ISPs have free content control filters. Any device that connects to the home internet is controlled by the restrictions set on the home router . To activate this feature, you need:

go to the section of the router settings of the same name;
check the box “Activate”;
choose the duration of parental control;
mark the mac-addresses of devices to which restrictions apply.

Game consoles
Modern consoles are connected to the internet. Therefore, through them, you can browse the web, make in-game purchases and communicate with other online players. But all devices come with parental controls. On the latest generation models, you can create several profiles with different rights for each family member. Create your own PlayStation Network account and then for each child.

For Xbox consoles, the developers have released a special application Xbox Family Settings, where you can play the child’s activity. Guided tuning allows you to limit play time, purchases, adult content, and view statistics on your child’s use of the console.

For Nintendo consoles, there is a dedicated application called Nintendo Switch Parental Controls. We have the same step-by-step principle of setting with a limit on the time of the game, by the age of the child, notifications about the end of the allotted time for games, etc.
Google and Yandex have filters. For example, Google SafeSearch blocks inappropriate or explicit images from search results. These filters are not 100% accurate, but they do help avoid most adult content.

Entertainment platforms
YouTube and Spotify have parental control settings available. For example, you can create individual profiles with different levels of control so that each family member sees only the content that suits them.

There are two ways you can restrict adult songs on Spotify. The first is to disable all songs marked with E – explicit content in your account settings.

But children can sometimes be smarter than their parents by restoring the original setting. The Spotify Kids app solves this problem where adult content is completely excluded from access.

In Netflix, you can set restrictions based on the age of the child. The corresponding child profile will hide films, cartoons and TV shows that are not suitable for age restrictions.

For iTunes, like other Apple services, parental controls are performed using the PC and parental controls, as well as account settings through Screen Time. We’ll go into more detail on how to use these tools in the following sections.

Mobile networks
Most mobile operators offer 18+ content blocking setting. You can check with your operator what is included in content blocking and monthly subscriptions. For reliability, it is better to install controls both on the mobile device itself and on the mobile network. Because the settings of the mobile operator, accordingly, do not work if the smartphone is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

Built-in operating system capabilities
Even in the operating system itself, both on a computer and on a smartphone, there are already opportunities to work with the content filter.

Windows . In your personal account settings, go to the Parental Controls section. Here you can set individual restrictions and parameters that need to be controlled: time limit, game limit, resolution.

Mac . Create an account with parental controls. In the “Programs” tab, you can allow or restrict access to specific software, as well as games and webcams. On the Web tab, you can configure valid sites and restrict access to adult sites. The Stores tab lets you restrict access to paid and free content from the App Store, iTunes, and Apple Books. In the same menu, you can set the access time to the computer, use the simplified Finder search.

Android . Through the Family link app, you can link your child’s phone or tablet, as well as their Google account, to your device and set up parental controls remotely. You can set filtering for Google searches, impose restrictions on the use of applications, filter visited sites, restrict the purchase and download of applications, track the location of the device. You can learn more about detailed settings for parental controls on Android here and here .

iOS . With Screen Time, you can restrict access to content and applications, block games and, in particular, multiplayer games, and screen recording. But before that you need to make sure that all games are connected to Game Center. Also in “Screen Time” you can enable a limit for individual applications, for example, restrict access to YouTube 1-2 hours a day. You can also block purchases and set protection against content 18+.

Third party control applications
On older iPhones with legacy iOS, where there is little in the way of built-in controls, you can use the OurPact app . The utility allows you to manage the operating time of the display, access to the Internet, remotely block access to the network, filter content.

For Android, in addition to the free Google Family Link app, there are paid analogues of Kaspersky Safe Kids , Kidslox, etc.

For Windows, there are programs such as Qustodio , as well as add-ons from anti-virus software manufacturers: Norton Family , Kaspersky Safe Kids, etc.

Should you pay extra for paid versions of parental control software? It all depends on the type of platform on which you want to set the restrictions. So, if the child has only an Android smartphone at his disposal, then it is quite possible to get by with Google Family Link.

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If a child has access to different devices, then the paid Kaspersky Safe Kids package will help establish parental control on all home platforms using only one account.

All of the above programs offer approximately the same parental control options: limiting the time of the screen, the Internet, applications, access to adult sites, the time spent on the network and in games.

Therefore, for most tasks, the capabilities built into the operating system will suffice, with the exception of older versions of the OS. But if you want to use one program for all platforms, then you can consider paid packages from reputable antivirus providers.