Preventing Access To Inappropriate Content – Parental Controls

Despite the Internet having endless positive uses there is a lot of content out there that you would not want your children to find. Fortunately there are plenty of tools to help you restrict what your children can access.

It can be difficult to know where to start with parental controls – you think you’ve mastered it then something else pops up on another device! See below for our tips on setting up parental controls; remember however that blocking content on one device (e.g. the home computer) does not necessarily restrict access through another device (e.g. a tablet) – you will need to set up controls through your broadband provider and/or on each separate device.

Parental controls are also not 100% effective. You can test them by attempting to search for the kind of content you don’t want your child to see. It is also really important to keep a dialogue going with your child, continue to monitor what they are doing online and help them to take on some responsibility for their online behaviour as they grow up.


1. Parental controls on your broadband

The great thing about parental controls through your broadband provider is that they protect any device.

Most UK broadband providers provide FREE parental controls including:

The great thing about parental controls through your broadband provider is that they protect any device using the broadband/wifi in your home whether that’s a computer, games console or mobile device.

Many of them come with easily customisable filter levels and various other features (such as the ability to set filter times so they are not active while your children are asleep for example).  Whilst you may worry that this will restrict what you can do yourself online, typically the services are easily configurable to work around this and we advise that it is best to start with the settings as strict as possible and decrease the level if necessary to give your children the best protection.

Revisit you settings regularly (at least once per year) and adjust them appropriately as your children grow.

BT Parental Controls


2. Parental controls on each device

Broadband filters do not always block content accessed through downloads such as apps and games.

For any device that has access to the internet beyond your broadband such as mobile phones and tablets with 3G or 4G, we also recommend including further device-specific parental controls.

These are also particularly relevant where content has not been restricted by your broadband filter. Broadband filters do not always block content accessed through downloads such as apps, games on games consoles, films, videos, TV programmes, music lyrics etc.

Apple devices have ‘Restrictions’ that include filters for age rated content, explicit lyrics etc.  Kurios, Innotabs, LeapPads, Kindle Fires and others have built in parental controls with varying features such as safe browsing settings, time management and the ability to have child accounts with different restrictions to adult accounts.

There are parental controls built into boxes connected to your TV as well, including set-top boxes, games consoles etc.  These often require a PIN to access content rated over a certain age.  Tailor this as appropriate and make sure your child NEVER sees you enter your PIN number!

If your device does not come with built in parental controls, download one of the many parental control apps.  For Android devices there are a range available such as Kids Place, Kids Zone and Zoodles that include features such as restricting children to apps you choose in their own area of the device that they cannot exit.

If your child uses a laptop away from home then parental controls built into PCs and Macs are worth including as well. There are various parental control options for Windows – look within Internet Explorer at Internet options > Tools. For Mac users look in System Preferences for Parental Controls.

Parental control services that work across devices such as Mobicip and NetNanny are also worth investigating.

Restrictions ipad 2


3. Safe browsers and search engines

Safe search helps to limit the results returned through a search.

If you and your children always use Google to search the internet then we recommend activating Google SafeSearch which you can turn on easily from any results page.  This can be useful on a computer, mobile or tablet. It limits the search results that will be returned, where possible, to avoid inappropriate content (although as always it isn’t perfect).

We also suggest that you look at the parental control settings within the browser you use – both Internet Explorer and Google Chrome have options.

Other services such as YouTube offer ‘Safe Search’ modes. Scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page to turn ‘Safe Search’ on.

If internet browsing worries you particularly then there are also a few child-specific browsers you can try.

Google safe search


We hope this helps your child use online services safely but do remember that no parental controls are perfect. We strongly recommend that you keep an eye on what your child is doing online and make sure they always feel comfortable coming to you with any concerns.


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