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[Discuss] protecting kids online

The best you can do is openDNS on your router and to make it nearly
impossible to work around, if you know how, add a firewall rule on the
router to redirect any port 53 queries from your net to your opendns server.
The only way around this is if they install a VPN, but you can always block
the IPs of all the known free VPN servers, again, if you know how.

-----Original Message-----
From: at
[ at] On Behalf Of Kent Borg
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 4:02 PM
To: discuss at
Subject: Re: [Discuss] protecting kids online

On 02/05/2014 12:00 PM, Eric Chadbourne wrote:
> I have two nieces (7 & 9) with shiny new android tablets.  I've looked 
> at various browser plugins and apps but nothing really stood out to me 
> that would effectively block adult content and was no cost.  The 
> couple of things I tried seem pretty easy to get around.  Anybody have 
> any suggestions?

Speaking as one who once was a kid (but admittedly someone who has no kids),
blocking seems the wrong approach.

There are a lot of problems and worries and risks about technology, and we
are just figuring out what they all are, all as new dangers are being
invented every day.  Blocking "adult content" seems a recipe for thinking
the problem is solved, responsibility met, and moving on to other things
that are more fun and less work.

Just boring old Facebook and Twitter appear to be dangerous.  There was that
girl who recently threw herself off a cement plant tower or something in
Florida.  She was being bullied online, her parents had taken her off social
media sites when she was having problems and she knew she was having
problems, but she couldn't resist and she secretly went back.

Clearly this is an extreme case, but I think it has some value anyway: I
don't think looking at a dirty picture is going to shatter a 7 year old girl
(how much interest will she have in that anyway?), I would be far more
worried by other risks, much more insidious things, like posting stupid
things that might haunt her for years to come, or corresponding with a
predator who temps her to danger.  Or just spending up a storm with in-app
purchases from some addictive game.  There are so many apps I don't use, so
many risks I don't know about--and no one does.  This is not a simple

In olden days we had fairy tales that were cautionary examples to teach our
naturally trusting children to be suspicious of some dangerous things.
(Some of these old stories were rather violent and extreme, and in recent
decades have themselves been censored by worried adults.  Find an uncensored
copy Grimm's and see.)

At the moment we are in new territory, we don't know what the risks are, no
one does, we don't have a canon of standard precautions to teach children.
Which means the children need personal supervision here.  
They need to be warned that there are dangers out there that are new and
changing, and to be cautious, and ask about things they are not sure about.
We need children talking with their parents about what they are doing online
even if it is not dangerous--because you don't know.  We need children to
look at technology with skepticism and not think that it is a benign force.
(Sorry techies, this is dangerous stuff now.)

Children don't want to get hurt, they are capable of cooperation in this
effort to keep them safe.

But putting up content blocks seems the wrong first step, it sets her up as
an opponent, doesn't it?

I'm not saying that no technical assists are available here.  For example
recent versions of Android for tablets have different accounts, so it is
possible to set up one for a kid that only has a few apps, at first, and
maybe make her techie world bigger only bit by bit, over time, as she, and
her parents, master the earlier bits.

This is an evolving problem that *none* of us understand.  In my opinion, it
needs ongoing parental effort; having a techie uncle install something to
make it better not only won't do the trick, I think it goes in the wrong

-kb, the Kent who can talk big because he has no kids and this is,
admittedly, all theoretical for him.

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