Keep kids safe online with OpenDNS

OpenDNS is a free and super-easy way to help keep your kids safe online, without the need to install any software.

Before explaining how OpenDNS works, let me first explain a little about Domain Name Systems (DNS). When you key a website into your browser, your computer contacts a DNS server and asks for that website’s IP address. The IP address is then used by the computer to direct you to the website. For example, when you enter into your browser, your computer contacts a DNS server and the server tells the computer that’s IP address is and your computer then uses those numbers to get you to the website.

Now, the DNS server your computer contacts usually belongs to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). However, you can easily change that so that OpenDNS’s server is used instead. Why would you want to do that? Well, unlike your ISP’s DNS, OpenDNS can be configured to block websites that you consider to be inappropriate – pornographic, file sharing or social networking sites, for example. You can block categories of websites simply by checking a box:

… or block websites on an individual basis:

While the subject of DNS may sound complex, OpenDNS is actually extremely simple to use. For most people, the best option is to configure their router to use OpenDNS. It’s very easy to do using the step-by-step instructions provided on the OpenDNS website. The benefit of doing it this way is that the restrictions you set will be automatically applied to any device that connects to your home network – be it a computer, a smartphone or an iPad.

However, if you’d prefer to have restrictions apply only to a particular device or devices, you can do that too. Instead of configuring your router to use OpenDNS, you’d simply need to configure the individual devices to use it. This means you can block your kids’ computers from accessing certain sites, while still being able to access those sites from your own devices. Again, it’s extremely easy to do and step-by-step instructions can be found at the OpenDNS website.

What steps do you take to protect your kids when they’re online?

Rhonda Callow is an award-winning freelance blogger and editor who has worked with numerous leading high-tech companies. She also helps companies with their public relations and social media management. Rhonda is a photography enthusiast and enjoys camping and hiking with her family during her free time. You can follow Rhonda on Twitter (@rhondacallow) or contact her at [email protected].

By Rhonda

January 18, 2013