Children with smartphones have unfiltered access to the Internet unless their parents make a decision to filter. Today, we discuss five options for filtering and why it is something parents should discuss with IT Director Mike Daugherty from Ohio.
5 Home Filtering Options for Parents
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e245
Date: Friday, February 2, 2018
Vicki: Today we’re talking to Mike Dougherty from Ohio.
Today I’d like to do a show for my parents at my school, as well as for parents around the country, I’d like to make a resource to be able to share with parents.
Why Do Students Need Protection on their SmartPhones?
You know, we may filter at school, but our students are taking everything home. We may install things on their Chromebooks, but when they are on their phones, they are getting unfiltered access to the internet.
Now, you know, Mike… the other day I had an 8th grader come in and say, “Oh, I heard about the Dark Web on a show. What is it, Ms. Vicki? I have been looking it up.”
And I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness! Please! Like DON’T. Like this is so bad!”
And you know, kids are innocent.
Do you think filters are as important as I seem to think?
Mike: So… I do.
And I know that there are a lot of questions about privacy and ethics on this one, but again… with kids? I still feel that they need this.
I feel that they need some form of monitoring so that parents can make sure that the kids are being safe online.
Even really, really good kids make some bad choices at times, and I feel like the filters really help guide your child — especially as they go through those teen years and off to college.
Vicki: Well, they’re so innocent. Sometimes they don’t know that a word — just typing in a word — could be a bad choice. They just don’t know better.
Vicki: You know… So you have five options that you have recommended to your parents. We will include a link to this in the Shownotes.
What’s your first option for home filtering for parents?
Mike: So my first option — and by far my favorite option is called Circle.
#1 is Circle
It’s actually Circle by Disney now. They were not a Disney company, but Disney purchased them in the last 18 months.
It’s actually a device that you install at home. It’s a physical device. You connect it to your home WiFi and all of the configuration is done through an app. It is extremely, extremely easy to use for parents. I feel like even those parents who are not very tech savvy can figure this one out. It’s not hard to do at all.
Parents are able to set time limits per usage by device or by child. So if you have three children, you can set different limits for each child. You can filter out content, again, on a per child basis. So if you want your oldest child to be able to do some things that maybe the younger kids should not, you can do that.
They have a PAUSE option which I really like. Sometimes, I know in my household, trying to get them to look up from the device or to just take a break can cause some trouble.
So, they’ve got a pause feature, which literally just pauses the internet on all of the devices. So no matter what they’re doing, it just stops it.
It’s got a bedtime functionality, in which devices stop connecting to the internet at a certan time at night.
It’s a great, great, great device.
The other thing that I really like about it is that they have a new product called Circle Go, which can be installed on their cell phones. You can have the same functionality when they’re not inside your four walls.
It’s a fantastic product.
It’s a little bit costly. It costs $99 one time.
But again, I think it’s well worth it.
Vicki: Yeah, and the cell phone is particularly an issue, because…
You know, parents may have a filter at home, and we may have a filter at school, but once they go on their data on their cell phone, typically they have unfettered access to the internet.
Mike: Sure, and Circle will tackle that for you, so that even when they’re on their unfiltered data access, the content is still filtered.
Vicki: So Mike, what’s our second option?
Mike: Number two is the Norton Family Premier.
#2 is Norton Family Premier
Norton has been around forever. I’m sure that your listeners have heard of Norton throughout the years.
It’s got a lot of similar features, but again what I really like about this one is it’s a little less expensive up front. It’s $50 a year. But it updates constantly, and it works on any gadget and on phones.
The one downside to it is you actually have to take their phone to install it, whereas with Circle it just happens from the Circle device. But other than that, it’s a great second option for families who just want to dip their toes in, but don’t want to spend that hundred dollars up front.
Vicki: And it does not have the PAUSE feature, though, does it?
Mike: It does not. So that’s one of the downsides to it. You don’t have the ability to pause. The Family Premier is really more about blocking than setting time limits and anything else, whereas Circle gives you a lot more features just overall.
Vicki: OK, what’s our third option?
Mike: Third one is NetNanny.
#3 is NetNanny
Again, one of those that have been around for years.
I know, especially in the late 90’s it was really, really popular. It was one of the first ones to come out and allow you to control your internet access at home.
Again, website blocking, time limits — adjusted per child.
The one thing that I really liked about NetNanny that kind of stood out was that it has the option to mask profanity on sites for younger students.
Mike: So if you know that you’ve got a student that’s a little bit younger, and they’re surfing the web… if an inappropriate word comes up, it automatically masks that so that the child doesn’t see that word.
Mike: Yeah! I thought that was a really nice feature that none of the other ones had.
It’s subscription based, so it’s $60 a year. Again, you have to install that on each device.
But again, a ton of really good reviews on that one.
Vicki: Yeah. OK, what’s the fourth?
Mike: So number four is called Qustodio
#4 is Qustodio
It’s really really similar to Norton Family Premier.
Again, it has the ability to set limits.
I really like the interface for Quostodio. It installs on apps (or on phones and devices across the board, so Windows, Macs, Android, all of that). It’s got an app kind of interface, so you can see what they’re surfing and where they’re spending their time.
So, for example, I know that 20% of the time, they’re surfing and on social media, while 10% of the time they’re actually playing online games. It really gives you a breakdown.
That was my big thing with Qustodio, is that you’re really able to have a better idea of what our kids are looking at, from nd easy to view dashboard.
Vicki: Cool. So what’s our fifth?
Mike: The fifth one is free, but this one’s a little bit tougher to use It’s called Open DNS.
#5 is Open DNS
So essentially what you’re doing with Open DNS is you’re telling your computers in your house — where things live on the internet.
So essentially you go through your wireless router, and instead of pointing to the DNS for your internet service provider (ISP), which is kind of like an internet phone book, you point to Open DNS, and it gives you a ton of control.
Again, it can be a little tricky to set up, but it allows you to block websites, turn things on and off. It has a lot of features. You just have got to figure out how to use it.
So again, for those tech savvy parents out there that aren’t looking to spend some money, Open DNS is a great place to start.
Vicki: Yeah. You got to be a geek, right? (laughs)
Yeah, and along those same lines, there are a lot of wireless routers that have built-in functionality as well. So if you’re looking to upgrade your router and this is important to you, maybe look online and see what routers are out there that allow you to set some limits on your devices.
What does Mike use?
Vicki: So Mike, I know you give these options in your parent newsletter. You let them make their choice, because ultimately it’s each parent’s choice, but what do you use at your house? You have three kids.
Mike: I use Circle.
I’ve been a huge fan since it came out.
Again, I think what I really like about it is the ease of use.
Here’s a great little story, Vicki.
A babysitter came over, and while we were out to dinner, she texted us and said, “Hey, what’s the WiFi password?”
We sent her the password, and she hopped on, and the minute she hopped on, my filtering policy started to take effect. So I knew that even an outside visitor to my home wasn’t getting unfiltered access to the internet.
I trust her explicitly, but at the same time, it was great to see that. So I know that as kids come over and they bring their devices — like my 9-year-old son, whose friends will come over with a device — I know they’re still filtered when they’re here.
So it gives me that peace of mind a well.
Vicki: Wow. That’s incredible!
Now some people complain about filters because they say it slows down their devices and their computers. Have you noticed any slowdown?
Mike: I haven’t noticed that at all.
Again, I think the way it works — from the technology behind the scenes — I don’t feel like I’ve seen any slowdown whatsoever with any of them.
I tried Circle. I tried Family Premier. I dabbled with NetNanny back in the day. But I have not felt like there was any slowdown with any of them.
Vicki: Wow. Well that’s great!
So teachers, parents, administrators, this is a conversation that we should all have.
I find it interesting, sometimes, that many parents are very adamant that schools have to have filters. And we do. We’re legally required. We have to do that here in the United States.
But they don’t think about the filtering at home. Kids are obviously at home a whole lot. So as we’re responsible adults, raising children in a digital age — particularly with things like the dark web out there, from my perspective there are just a lot of things that kids are not ready for yet. We want to protect them from those areas of just innocent curiosity in many cases.
So, consider… How are you going to filter? Make that decision intentionally.
Even if you decide to leave it open, to have those conversations with your kids so that you can decide what’s right for you family.
I do really hope that you will consider keeping your kids safe.
EVen with getting the rest at night. (laughs)
Vicki: Because I actually think that’s abig deal! A lot of kids are sleep-deprived, and it can make us as much as a whole grade level impact on their grades, if they’re losing enough sleep.
So thanks for listening. I hope you’ll have lots of interesting conversations in the break room and with parents on this one.
Contact us about the show: https://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford [email protected]
Bio as submitted
Mike Daugherty is a husband, father, author, technology director, Google Innovator, and possible Starbucks addict. He has eighteen years of experience in K-12 technology support serving in a wide variety of roles.
Currently, he is the Director of Technology for the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School district where he and his team have implemented a highly successful 1:1 Chromebook initiative.
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