Notes for Parents: How Do Kids Bypass Internet Filters?
Admit that probably not a few times in your childhood you were tempted to forget about all the home tasks and just read some new exciting book, watch TV or run outside to meet your friends. Nowadays, children are dreaming of freedom to do everything they want no less than their parents, but their main temptation is the Internet, of course. Moreover, they want to have no limits and access any sites, even those that are improper for them or just way too much distracting. Parents, as well as school authorities, may activate Internet filters, but the forbidden fruit is sweet, and kids find ways of getting around content filters. How can you identify their tricks? Learn more below.
According to research by Ofcom:
- 18% of children 12-15 y.o. have learned how to disable Internet filters;
- 47% of kids aged 12-15 delete their browser history;
- 29% can mask their browsing history;
- Over 50% of parents of 8-15 y.o. kids admit that they know less about using the Internet than their children.
One of the most widely known methods to bypass content filters is using proxy sites. Proxies work as a middle link; they let a user view forbidden website through another website’s server. All the kid has to do is to google proxy web page with a special search box on it and just type the URL of a site he/she wants to visit there. They then will be redirected to this site in a moment. Proxy websites to get around filters are almost impossible to block and can be found in hundreds via any search engine.
Even if you would try to block all proxy sites, which you can’t do anyway, your kid still can create a new proxy. It’s not that simple, but the Internet may provide detailed step-by-step instructions for that case, too.
Even if you set passwords on some accounts, a child may try to find them out by guessing. Of course, strangers don’t know you so well to answer common security questions like “the name of your pet” or “your mother’s middle name” etc. But your kid surely does. After cracking this “code”, the password may be altered easily.
Using another Wi-Fi
The home network is not the kid’s only option. Hospitable neighbors or good friends may always share their Wi-Fi password. And if they live in a flat or a house just next to yours, your child’s PC or mobile devices may connect to the Web via their network effortlessly.
Installing new browsers
Sometimes, it’s enough to install and use another Internet browser that bypasses filters to have total control over viewing any sites and deleting the browsing history. So you might want to check if any new browsers have been installed on your child’s PC. Yet, it is also possible to open a browser from a USB stick even without installation. That can be done with, for example, TOR Browser, which, in addition to everything else, is considered to provide maximum anonymity and is almost untraceable.
Whether the filters are built into your browser or your PC’s control panel, they can be disabled if there is only one user account with admin rights set up on the computer. Yes, just as simple as that.
Typing in an IP address into a navigating bar of a browser can also lead you to the desired site, but many browsers may block this way.
Anyway, there is a simple trick to overcome any restrictions by creating a text file with an IP address in it, saving it as .html document and opening website as a hyperlink. Are there chances that your kids know how to do this?
Browsing through mobile devices
Even if you set filters to your children’s PC and laptop, what about their smartphone, tablet or iPod? Don’t forget to install a filtering or monitoring app specially designed for the mobile devices.
What can you do?
As you may see from all the tricks listed above, it’s not that easy to control how your children use the Internet even if you mean to do it for their good. No matter how hard you try, the kid may still find a way to overcome the restrictions. Yet, there are a couple of steps you can undertake.
- Education may be the best prevention. Talk to your kid, explain why exactly you want to filter the content that may do harm with their content or appear to be distractive while a kid’s attention should be paid to much more important things. Be a good friend to your child and gain his/her trust with your honesty.
- Maintaining discipline. Friendly relationships are great, but at the same time, you shouldn’t forget to show your authority and set certain rules. For example, control the time children use the Internet as well as laptop and all other mobile devices. No gadgets during dinner time, after 9 pm and no phone near the pillow at night in the kid’s bedroom – choose what you think will work.
- If your main reason for buying a phone for your kid is staying in touch and being available in everyday and emergency situations – why to buy a “super cool” gadget which is designed primarily for using the Internet? The simplest “emergency phone” will be just fine.