How to block porn on all of your devices (#1 free parental control)?

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How to block porn on all the devices at home?

Is it really necessary to impose porn restriction on children?

Obviously YES. But why?

Scientific researches prove that pornography can have a severe impact on children and adolescents mind. Young minds exposed to porn can suffer from mental disturbance, demotivation, lack of focus on studies and sports, violent behavior, and unsafe knowledge about sexuality. (12, 3)

Nearly half of children between the ages of 9-16 experience regular exposure to sexual images.

Even adult minds are prone to the harmful effects of porn. Pornography addiction is on the rise across the world, and so is sexual violence.

As Psychology Today reports –

If people seek to act out what they see, they may be more likely to commit sexual assault, rape or child molestation.

Further reading –  Overexposed and Under-Prepared: The Effects of Early Exposure to Sexual Content

I assure you, this comprehensive guide will help you in blocking porn access as much as possible.

P.S – Adults can also voluntarily block porn to fight porn addiction. Watch this documentary on how porn can impact our minds:

Your Brain on Porn: How Internet porn affects the brain

 

Now let’s get down to business.

This guide is all about blocking porn at home, school, or even at work.

The entire process shouldn’t take over 10 minutes.

The process works on almost any device that connects to the internet – be it an iPhone, an Android, Windows, Mac, or even video game consoles.

How much does it cost?

It does not involve any cost – you can block porn and other adult websites for free! 🙂

Let’s start.

Which is the best method to block porn and other inappropriate content?

When searching for a good website blocker, a lot of questions hit me:

How do I block porn on my Windows computer/ laptop? Can I block porn on Google Chrome browser? Can I block porn on an Android phone? What about the iPhone and iPad – can I block porn on both? Is there a website blocker for PlayStation 4 or Xbox One?

Phew, I just bombarded myself with these questions!

Here’s the answer –

There are three methods available; I combine method 2 & 3 listed below-

Method #1 – Parental control apps and software

Softwares like NetNanny, Qustodio, Norton Family and many others provide parental control options on Mac and Windows PCs.

For Android phones – Kiddie Parental Control, Sentry, and other parental control apps with basic functions are free. These apps offer paid upgrades to activate advanced features. The iPhone and iPad users are lucky as the basic Parental Control is an included feature in iOS.

One needs to install parental control apps/ software on each & every device your child will use. And that is a tedious and cumbersome job. On top of that, most of the good parental control software and apps cost money. Why pay if there are free and better alternatives available?

Method #2 – Built-in parental control options for devices and services

Devices like Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, etc. come with parental controls to prevent children from playing video games that show blood, violence and sexual themes.

Other services like Netflix, YouTube, Google provide parental control options to restrict inappropriate content.

These parental control options are linked to your account and restrictions sync across any device with your account signed in.

I use built-in parental control options wherever possible.

Method #3 – DNS based adult content blocking

It doesn’t provide “parental control” as such, but it is the first line of defense to block porn sites from entering my home.

Let me explain to you what is it and why is it the best?

DNS based parental control – blocking porn with finesse 🙂

What is DNS? Is it an app, software, or a device?

Every web server has a unique IP address number. Each of these IP address numbers is linked with a website “name or URL” in a Domain Name Server. And it is the DNS that helps you connect to specific web servers through easy to remember names instead of difficult to memorize IP address numbers.

Let me first explain how web browsers open websites through website addresses? (optional read)

For the sake of simplicity, let’s take an example of our phone number. Everyone has a unique mobile number. So, if I want to call you – I will dial your number.

Now let me ask – how many phone numbers do you remember? 1, 2, 10?

I remember just four phone numbers – mine, my mom’s, my brother’s, and my wife’s.

To contact other people – I have a contacts app on my mobile phone which stores names and their corresponding numbers. To call people, I search their name and dial. As convenient as it can get.

Just like a phone number, every server on the internet has a unique number that identifies its location and other nitty-gritty. This unique number is called an IP address. An IP address looks like – 140.82.6.57 (IP address of this website).

DNS or Domain Name Server acts as a directory of website names and their corresponding IP addresses. So, to go to this website, you typed shahidfakih.com and NOT 140.82.6.57.

DNS works at the global level (unlike a private contact list on a mobile phone). And there are multiple DNS services around the world. The best part is – you can force your modem/ router to use a particular DNS service to lookup websites 🙂

That’s where the control takes place. As soon as someone tries searching for a porn website, the specific DNS service (which I will share soon) will decline to provide that porn site’s IP address. Thus, the connection to the porn site will never happen!

Porn blocking DNS vs Standard DNS:

Standard DNS flow

Go to xxx.com > DNS server says xxx.com is pointing to 111.69.68.65 > connect to 111.69.68.68 > porn site loads

Porn blocking DNS flow

Go to xxx.com > DNS server says xxx.com is blocked > I won’t tell you xxx.com is linked to what IP address > can’t connect to xxx.com > ERROR!

Viola! No more porn on any of the devices connected to home Wi-Fi 🙂

How does parental control DNS block bad sites?

Parental control DNS services maintain a massive database of adult websites. They classify each site based on nudity, sexual theme, gambling, violent content, gore, scams, etc. Domain name servers are lightning fast to lookup the requested site and block/ allow basis the classification.

Non-adult sites with sex or related words in them are spared as long as they don’t serve adult content. Example – Official website of Middle Sex County of New Jersey – www.middlesexcountynj.gov is NOT blocked.

Now, the questions are-

  1. What if a new porn site opens up for business and it is not in the database yet?
  2. What if a porn site has a misleading name? Example – www.whitehouse.com served porn up until 2006!

If a website requested by the user is not in the database or has a misleading name, the domain name server will run a quick scan of the site to understand the content it serves. These servers are smart and super fast. Almost under a fraction of a second, they scan the content of the site and decide whether to allow or block it.

A new porn site discovered this way is then added to the adult website database for future use.

Smart, isn’t it?

As an example – try categorify.org. See how it detects and flags porn/ adult sites.

On what devices does parental control DNS work?

It works on literally every device…

As long as the device is connected to your home Wi-Fi router/ modem – DNS works.

It doesn’t matter if you are plugged in via Ethernet cord or connected through Wi-Fi, it just works.

To be specific – It works on Windows, Mac, PlayStations, Xboxs, Nintendo game consoles, Smart TVs, iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Android tablets, etc.

Note – If you want to continue using the parental control DNS on your mobile phone/tablet, even when away from home, add the DNS IP numbers in the Network Settings of that device.

5 Parental control DNS services tested & compared –

Like any concerned parent, I am searching for the best parental control system. To find the best, I tested all of the free DNS providers! (as of January 2020).

Test setup
  • Asus Vivobook S15 S512 Laptop with Windows 10
  • TP-Link C1200 Basic W-Fi Router
  • MalwareBytes Premium Antimalware (Uninstalled for the tests)
  • Coffee ☕


I use MalwareBytes Premium for protection against malware. And as of writing this sentence, I am not using a parental control software.

To prevent the antivirus from blocking malware, I removed Malwarebytes & disabled Windows Defender. This way, I tested the effectiveness of DNS based malware blocking.

Testing criteria was – porn blocking, malware blocking, and other adult sites blocking ability.

I took false positives in consideration too – I didn’t want a legitimate science website with the word “sex” to be blocked.

YouTube restricted mode enforcing was considered a bonus as YouTube’s filters are useful on their own.

Test suite comprised of 20 porn sites from various countries and 20 malware sites with viruses, spyware, bitcoin miners & scam offers.

Gambling/betting/slot machine sites were tested too – 10 of them. Lastly, 10 free proxy sites were put to the test to see if your child could bypass porn filters by using one of these proxy servers.

Non-English porn sites were also tested to see if the DNS service was smart enough to identify sexually explicit text written in a foreign language.

Here is an example of a Russian porn site with non-English address and content –   http://порно-русское.net/

I also tested adult reddit boards with sexual content to check if they were blocked.

Here are the results –

Open DNSCleanBrowsingYandexNeuStarAdguard
Porn block75%90%95%90%75%
Proxy100%100%0%0%0%
Restricted Mode0%100%50%0%0%
Malware block35%70%45%60%85%
Gambling block5%0%0%40%5%

Open DNS –  

Open DNS servers –

IPv4: 208.67.222.123, 208.67.220.123

IPv6: Not available

Porn block – Average (75% sample sites blocked)

Malware block – Poor (35% sample sites blocked)

Gambling block – Failed (5% sample sites blocked)

Proxy Sites – Excellent (100% sample sites blocked)

YouTube Restricted mode – Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Google Safe Search –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Block message –

OpenDNS porn block error message

OpenDNS porn block notification

OpenDNS turned out to be a disappointment. It couldn’t identify a few of the non-English porn sites and fails miserably in malware and gambling departments too.


CleanBrowsing –

CleanBrowsing servers –

IPv4: 185.228.168.168, 185.228.169.168

IPv6: 2a0d:2a00:1::, 2a0d:2a00:2::

Porn block – Excellent (90% sample sites blocked)

Malware block – Good (70% sample sites blocked)

Gambling block – Failed (0% sample sites blocked)

Proxy Sites – Excellent (100% sample sites blocked)

YouTube Restricted mode – Passed (Child-friendly results)

Google Safe Search –  Passed (Child-friendly results)

Block message –

CleanBrowsing does not say that it blocked a site

CleanBrowsing will make your child believe that the site does not exist!


CleanBrowsing is the only DNS parental control service which blocks reddit. Yes, reddit has useful content too, but I consider it unsafe for children. Many reddit boards discuss adult interests, and few boards also promote posting nude photos of oneself!!

CleanBrowsing doesn’t identify a few of the non-English porn sites and fails miserably in the gambling department. Malware blocking has a decent success ratio.


Yandex –

Yandex servers –

IPv4: 77.88.8.7, 77.88.8.3

IPv6: 2a02:6b8::feed:a11, 2a02:6b8:0:1::feed:a11

Porn block – Excellent (95% sample sites blocked)

Malware block – Poor (45% sample sites blocked)

Gambling block – Failed (0% sample sites blocked)

Proxy Sites –  Failed (0% sample sites blocked)

YouTube Restricted mode –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Google Safe Search –  Passed (Child-friendly results)

Block message –

Yandex error message in Russian

Yandex throws a site block error in the Russian language

Yandex is the best for porn ban!

It blocked all the porn sites I tried to open. It blocked all the non-English porn too! Wow! Unfortunately, reddit was not blocked. Also, Yandex doesn’t fare well in Malware and Gambling criteria.


Neustar –

Neustar servers –

IPv4: 156.154.70.3, 156.154.71.3

IPv6: 2610:a1:1018::3, 2610:a1:1019::3

Porn block – Excellent (90% sample sites blocked)

Malware block – Good (60% sample sites blocked)

Gambling blockPoor (40% sample sites blocked)

Proxy Sites –  Failed (0% sample sites blocked)

YouTube Restricted mode –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Google Safe Search –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Block message –

Neustar's website blocker message

Neustar’s website block error message looks scary

Neustar blocked almost all porn sites except – one non-English porn site and an adult picture sharing reddit board. I consider this to be near perfect. I wish they start blocking reddit too, at least adult sections within reddit.

Malware blocking was good too. And this was the only DNS service which blocks few gambling sites.


 Adguard –

Adguard servers –

IPv4:  176.103.130.132, 176.103.130.134

IPv6: 2a00:5a60::bad1:0ff, 2a00:5a60::bad2:0ff

Porn block – Good (75% sample sites blocked)

Malware block – Excellent (85% sample sites blocked)

Gambling block – Failed (5% sample sites blocked)

Proxy Sites –  Failed (0% sample sites blocked)

YouTube Restricted mode –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Google Safe Search –  Failed (Adult content easily searchable)

Block message –

Adguard Parental Control Message

Adguard Parental Control Message

Adguard is the best for blocking malware. Otherwise, it fails in gambling block and performs mediocre in porn block tests.


Norton ConnectSafe DNS –  

Symantec’s Norton is a famous brand of Antivirus and Firewall software for PCs and Macs. They had a ConnectSafe brand of DNS service with parental control feature. For whatever reason, they’ve stopped the DNS service since November 15, 2018.

If anyone recommends you to use Norton ConnectSafe, please don’t as it won’t work anymore.

Which is the best DNS based parental control system?

Short answer – CleanBrowsing (overall).

CleanBrowsing DNS blocks what matters the most – Porn sites and proxy sites. Moreover, it sets Google to Safe Search, and YouTube works in Restricted mode by default.

It doesn’t fare well in Gambling block & Malware block. As far as gambling block is concerned, it shouldn’t be a worry unless you share your credit card with the kids. As gambling involves money, most of the gambling websites won’t allow you to gamble without a valid payment mode. Anyway, it’s not a good practice to share your credit card or PayPal details.

For malware, everyone uses an antivirus program on computers, so no big deal if CleanBrowsing could only block 70% of malware sites.

And the best part about CleanBrowsing is – it doesn’t let your children know that you are censoring the internet. Unlike all of the other DNS services, it does not throw a motivational message saying “your parents have a porn block in place, try to beat it!”

To conclude, my recommendation is CleanBrowsing. (period)

Now you know which is the best DNS based parental block, I will guide you to another guide on how to use the chosen DNS service to your advantage.

Click here to show a list of popular routers & instructions on changing the DNS service (Opens in a new tab). (Note – screenshots in the above guide provide DNS addresses as per OpenDNS, replace them with IPv4 addresses of the DNS service you prefer.)

Another note – Even if the exact model of your router isn’t listed, you can follow the instructions for another model from the same manufacturer.

Which is the best Wi-Fi router with parental controls inbuilt?

For nerdy people (like me), we prefer tinkering over buying a ready-made solution.

But not everyone is comfortable with tech…

If you want simplicity and ease of implementing porn restrictions with one click, then Wi-Fi routers like Netgear Nighthawk AC1750 router is what you need.

Beware, it implements none of the DNS services I’ve tested. It comes with a commercial parental control system from Disney that helps restrict adult content.

I think DNS based porn blocking is more straightforward compared to parental control apps. All that a non-tech person has to do is be brave 😛

How to block adult content on YouTube & Netflix?

My daughter loves watching nursery rhymes on YouTube.

But I ensure that she doesn’t become a YouTube zombie by limiting the time she spends on her iPad.

To be on a safer side, I have installed YouTube Kids (iPhone & iPad) instead of the standard YouTube app.

YouTube Kids app is also available on Android.

YouTube kids filters out adult content through AI-based algorithms and human reviewers (dip checks). You can also set timers to limit the time your child spends on YouTube.

As a matter of fact, even the YouTube website and it’s app doesn’t allow you to watch adult content unless you are signed in with an account of a person over 18 years of age.

What I don’t like is…

Images from adult videos still come up in search results when no one is signed into YouTube (without restricted mode).

Nevertheless, few DNS services will force YouTube to open in “restricted mode” even when not signed in. Restricted mode filters all the adult content on YouTube. Even YouTube search results show clean results only.

That’s why I recommend CleanBrowsing DNS. It always opens YouTube in restricted mode.

Still, I would strongly suggest using YouTube kids instead of YouTube on their devices.

Netflix too offers a parental control option.

From your Netflix account page, you can go to profile and create/ edit your child’s profile to show only content suitable for For Little Kids only.

You can check detailed instructions on Netflix’s parental control page.

Once the parental control is in place on Netflix, it will ask for a four-digit PIN when your cunning little one tries to access mature content.

And for god’s sake don’t put your or their date of birth as the PIN.

Loopholes you must know as a smarter parent –

It is always good to stay ahead of the game…

It is good for you, your kids and whoever they meet in the future 🙂

Like every other technology out there, DNS based parental control has loopholes too…

I will try to point out a few loopholes and recommend a few steps to stay ahead of your smarter at tech kids.

a picture of children smart with computers

Don’t let your children outsmart you.

  1. Teens can change the DNS settings to non-porn blocking DNS service
  2. They can use a VPN or proxy service to bypass your DNS settings
  3. Kids can access porn elsewhere

Now let’s have a look at each one of the workarounds.

How do I prevent my child from changing my router’s DNS settings?

For small kids under eight years of age don’t worry much as they probably won’t be able to figure out a way to access router settings.

You be a better judge in understanding your child’s computer skills; If you think they will access network settings and change it. LOCK the settings with a secure password (one they can’t guess).

Routers and modems, by default, come with a password to protect the settings page. The default password is as secure as “password” or “admin,” seriously. A kid can refer to the router’s manual and easily access settings.

Fortunately, you can get into the router’s setting and change this password to something else (before they do).

Just google “how to change {router model} firmware login password” to get instructions for your router’s model.

Setting up a new firmware password will prevent kids from changing the router’s settings.

What are VPN & Proxy Servers? How can my teen use VPN & Proxy Servers service to bypass parental controls?

Virtual Private Network & Proxy Servers enable an open, unrestricted access to the world wide web.

Proxy servers are accessible through a standard browser. E.g., https://www.hidemyass.com/proxy

They provide a browser within a browser. And this browser in a browser bypasses restrictions.

Luckily, CleanBrowsing blocks most of these proxy sites.

On the other hand, VPN services are available as software (on Windows, Mac, and Linux) and as apps (Android, iOS).

Once a VPN is active with a click of a button, the device can bypass any form of restrictions put by you, your ISP, or even by the Government!

As a matter of fact,  many news reporters reporting from extremist/ harsh countries use VPNs to bypass government spying and censors.

Considering how VPNs can bypass restrictions, anyone can use VPNs to access banned sites — even your teens.

Can teenagers afford VPNs? Yes indeed. Premium VPN services with excellent speed cost as low as $5 a month. There are free VPN services available too. Free VPNs allow limited speed and usage. Still, that is enough to watch porn a few times a day.

As a parent, look for apps and software with the words “VPN” in the name. Uninstall such apps at once.

Click here to open a list of popular VPN providers who offer FREE services

IPVanish, Windscribe VPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, HideMyAss, PrivateVPN, TunnelBear, HotSpot Shield, Speedify, ProtonVPN, Hide.me …..

Conclusion

The effectiveness of any porn blocker depends on whom you want to block it for – teens/ small children.

For children, yes – blocking porn is easy. Young children who haven’t hit puberty show the least interest in porn. Yet, porn block can prevent accidental exposure to porn.

As children grow into becoming teenagers, they will try to access porn.

For teenagers, porn restrictions at home will work. Needless to say, it is impossible to restrict porn outside of your home as teens may share porn through peers. Formal sexual education can help prevent abnormal and unsafe sexual development in them.

A handy tip!

When watching porn, a brain chemical “dopamine” releases into a region of the brain responsible for emotion and learning. Dopamine supplies a great sense of pleasure (as much as narcotic drugs) and is also called the “pleasure hormone”. The next time the person gets a craving for more pleasure, small packets of dopamine release in the brain driving the person to get a full flush of dopamine just like last time when it saw porn! Thus, the person gets a strong impulse to watch more porn and get more dopamine!

But, there is a safer way to get dopamine.

Creative activities which give us “joy” also release a moderate amount of dopamine and can help overcome the craving for porn.

It is proven that children and teens involved in healthier self-development activities are less likely to become porn addicts.

As parents, you need more than just blocking porn – you need to guide, motivate, and encourage them to focus on constructive activities like painting, learning music, reading, sports, etc… 

Remember – the best way to get rid of a porn-induced dopamine craving is to provide dopamine through other creative and healthier means.

As a matter of fact…

Even adults can avoid pornography addiction by involving in healthier recreational activities.

For now,

Through multiple tests, I found CleanBrowsing DNS to be the safest for children. And the easiest way to enforce a DNS is through changing DNS in the router settings.

A request…

As a parent, you can share your knowledge with other parents and help them too.

If you’ve got something to share with me and other readers, leave a comment below and help the community.

To add to that, you can also post questions/ doubts in comments below so that other readers or I can answer them for you.

Additional resources [for nerds]

Source of the latest malware domains. (text file download)

 

Google SafeBrowsing database (Google Chrome & Mozilla Firefox use it to filter out malware, phishing, and scam sites.)

Test various parental control DNS servers on your own – DNS Angel, DNS Jumper

Find your DNS service (not precise) – http://www.whatsmydnsserver.com/

 

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