Science + Tech

Control what your children view online while using iPod Touch and other iDevices

Most of my children have internet connected devices (iPod touch) that allow them to play games, to music and watch videos – and since most of them are under 7 they require some protection in terms of what they are viewing and how they are accessing information.

I control what they can and can’t install since they don’t know my iTunes password and even though iTunes will retain my password for 15 minutes after I load an application (by default), I keep an eye on the kids to make sure they’re not down loading more.

I was mistakenly allowing them to access YouTube and since they cannot spell yet I did not restrict access to safari or any specific web sites.

However, one day a few months back I happened to walk by and hear lots of giggling. With little ones, generally that either means fun or trouble.   Either way I’m interested to know what’s going on. So, I walk over to the kids and notice they are watching a video on the iPod touch where this annoying orange is yelling and cursing and they are cracking up about it. I don’t mind a humor in the least but I don’t want them running around using inappropriate language so it was time for a change.

I was interested in finding a way to block their web access but not completely. I did some research and ended up selecting OpenDNS.  It’s a free solution that will help block access to websites that I don’t want them to see yet.  Granted, this does not replace responsible parenting but it will help me have some comfort in knowing that most sites they are too young to view will not be visible to them. They have no need to social network or tweet yet so I’m good with a general block on most social sites since they often deal with more grown up oriented content.

On the flip side I do need social site access and so I don’t want to block everything for the whole house. There are a couple of places where a DNS entry can be effective for a home user (at the Router and on each device). In this case, since I want just the kids to be restricted, each iPod touch has to be set up individually.

Here are the basic steps

1. Go to Open DNS and set up a free account.

There are currently 2 free options and one paid – I’m content with the free Home option but you may want additional flexibility using a paid option.

You’ll want to make sure you’ve confirmed all your settings and the account is successfully set up before you go to the next step.

Note the name servers since you will need them

2. Find your iPod Touch, ipad or iPhone

3. Go  to Settings

4. Select General

5. Scroll to and select Network

6. Scroll to and select your Wi-Fi connection

7. Find your network connection and press the blue arrow off to the right side

8. Find the DNS entry and enter one of the “nameservers” provided by OpenDNS.

9. Save all your changes and you should be set.

Now most of the traffic going through your Wi-Fi connection from that one device will be routed through OpenDNS.  If it is deemed by them to be a “bad” site (depending on your settings) the device, and therefore your kids, will not be able to access them.  This works for me because the kids use the devices at home pretty much exclusively.  If they were to go to another house and connect to another Wi-Fi connection, the DNS server would need to be updated on that Wi-Fi account on the iDevice too.  As they get older, I’ll need more savvy solutions but for youngsters this works pretty well.

The kids get a little frustrated with me when they can’t go on YouTube but they can access other kid friendly video apps like Cartoon Network and still be entertained.


Lance Gilliland

Consumer Electronics. Technology. Media. Comics. Football. Family. Health. Entertainment. Great, now my fingers are tired. Follow me on Twitter | Facebook Google+

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