There are a lot of bad things on the internet and just as many ways to protect your family from unwanted online content; but why pay thousands of Rands every year for something you can do for no cost at all?

Imagine you could protect your children against bad advertisements, scams, adult content, gambling and violence-encouraging sites for free. Your child is important to you and what he/she sees online can greatly affect his/her thoughts and actions. Although we know we cannot completely protect our children against the negative things the world has to offer, we would like to know when they are exposed to it so we could help them understand what they’re learning and how to handle it.

ContentWatch Inc, noticed the risk of the internet to kids back in 2001 already and established the well-known NetNanny. Although this is an amazing service, a one year subscription on one device will cost you more than R300. Some anti-virus software also provides features to protect your children, these can cost up to R700 a year. Luckily we’ve got a service you can set-up, implement and manage yourself, without spending a cent!

It’s called OpenDNS and in this how-to we’ll show you how to set-it-up in 5 easy steps!

Step 1: Create an OpenDNS account

To manage your OpenDNS service, you want to go to the OpenDNS website and set up a FREE personal account. You’d want to choose between OpenDNS home, which protects against a wide variety of content which you can customize and OpenDNS Family Shield which has been preset to protect explicitly against adult content. It is important to pick a strong password when creating your account as you do not want your children to have access to this account.

Step 2: Change your computer’s settings to use openDNS’s DNS Server

Although there are 2 ways to do this, namely setting your router’s default DNS and your computer’s DNS settings, we will only change the settings on the relevant computers as this is a quick and painless process.

Changing the DNS using your Windows GUI

  1. Open Network and Sharing Center. On Windows 7, 8 and 10, you can find the Network and Sharing Centre by right-clicking on the Network Connections button in the taskbar and selecting “Open Network and Sharing Center”.
  2. In the Network and Sharing Center, click “Change Adapter Settings” on the left-hand side
  3. Right-Click on the Network Adapter you’re using, usually called “Wi-Fi” or “Wireless Network Connection” (If you’re using WiFi) or “Local Area Connection” if you’re using a LAN Cable. Now click Properties
  4. Click on “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)” and click Properties
  5. In the bottom of the just-opened windows, select “Use the following DNS server addresses:”
  6. In the boxes enter 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220
  7. Check the “Validate settings upon exit” box
  8. A window will pop up-up and do some tests to make sure you did everything right
  9. Finally a window saying “Troubleshoot couldn’t identify the problem” will indicate that you did everything right!

TIP: Restricting Administrative Privileges on your child’s computer will prevent them from changing any settings back and thus removing the restrictions

TIP: You can skip this step and automatically let the settings apply to all the computers and phones on your network by setting this up in your router. Since this can be a very complicated and can be high-risk, we suggest you contact us to do it for you.

Step 3: Log into openDNS and choose which categories to restrict

We now need to set the level of filtering for your network. To do this:

  1. Log into OpenDNS
  2. Under Dashboard > Settings, choose your network by clicking the appropriate IP address under “your networks”
  3. Under “Choose your filtering level”, choose a level between None and High and click “Apply”
  4. You’re good to continue!

Step 4: Download the OpenDNS IP Updater and log in

Beacuse we primarily use dynamic public IP addresses in South Africa and your public IP Address is linked to your OpenDNS account, we need to download and install a piece of software to keep your IP address updated with OpenDNS (Don’t know what a public IP address is? Read an article on IP Addresses here. To do this:

  1. Log into OpenDNS
  2. Under Dashboard > Settings, choose your network by clicking the appropriate IP address under “your networks”
  3. On the right-hand pane, choose Advanced Settings and tick the checkbox to Enable Dynamic IP Update and click apply
  4. Download, install and log into this software on the computers you want to have restricted

TIP: To skip this step and ensure that your network’s public IP is always linked to your account, contact us to do a DDNS setup for you instead

Step 5: Open the OpenDNS console to view your family’s statistics

  1. Log into OpenDNS
  2. Under Dashboard > Stats, you will find a wide variety of statistics regarding recent activity on your network. If after 24 hours no data is displayed, something might not be set-up correctly. Verify all the above steps were done correctly or call us to help you.

That’s it! Your family is now protected against most of the online threats currently in existence! No updates or settings need to be changed from here and you’ll never have to renew your subscription!