DNS Based Parental Controls
Recently a friend asked me about managing online access in a house with young children. The internet is an astonishing and amazing thing filled with wonders to fuel your children’s imagination, but also contains stuff that parents will want to manage their access to.
I wrote a column on some methods for managing this a few years back, but it’s time to revisit the subject. Especially as a new method is now available: DNS based parental controls.
Domain Name Systems (DNS) are one step in how you connect to computers on the internet. When you go into Google and search for something, you get back a list of links which contain the names of the system and locations on those systems where what you’re looking for resides. But in order to go there, you need the actual address of the computer on the internet. The Internet Protocol (IP) address looks like 188.8.131.52. That number is what your computer’s browser actually uses to connect to their web server.
So, how do you get that number? That’s where the DNS server comes in. Given a domain name it can return the address. Because every lookup on the internet for a computer requires a request to a DNS server, using a DNS server which filters out malicious and adult content sites can make it much more difficult for children (or anyone) to access. I’m going to show you how to setup one DNS filter using OpenDNS’s Family Shield DNS servers.
One caveat. No filtering system is perfect, but it works well for most inappropriate sites.
If you have a Telus WiFi Hub, like most people in Fernie, you can log into it and change the DNS settings. You will need your Telus Hub administrator password, located on a sticker on the bottom of the Telus Hub.
Warning. Be careful if you’re going to follow these steps. It is possible to put your Telus Hub into a state where you may no longer have access to it. Don’t change anything you don’t understand.
To access settings on your hub, open a browser on a device connected to your Telus Hub (i.e. your phone, laptop or desktop computer) Type 192.168.1.254 into the address bar and bring up your Telus Hub’s administration page. If not, your Telus Hub may be at a different address.
The easiest way to find this out is from your phone while it’s connected to your WiFi. Open Settings -> WiFi and click the info icon at the right. Scroll down to find your router address. Type that address into the address bar.
Then you’ll be required to log in. If you haven’t done this before, the administrator password is on a sticker on your router.
Once logged in, go to Network -> WAN and click the Edit button. Under WAN DNS setting, you’ll see Connect to DNS Server automatically. Choose No. Two new settings will appear.
Beside DNS Server1 enter: 184.108.40.206
Beside DNS Server2 enter: 220.127.116.11
Confirm you have entered exactly those settings and hit Save settings.
It may take several minutes to trickle down through your network. To test if it’s working, open a browser window and go to welcome.opendns.com. You should see a success window. If not, go back and check your settings.
To undo these changes, follow the instructions and change Connect to DNS Server automatically back to Yes.
If you don’t have a Telus WiFi Hub, OpenDNS has instructions for almost every other kind of router here: support.opendns.com/hc/en-us/sections/206253667-Individual-Router-Configurations