Internet Safety for Kids

Resource Guide

Safe Browser Settings for Kids

"We limit use of the internet for my 12 year old. We only allow it for homework and her phone is on limited use as well," said V Phan, a mom of three and LMSW-IPR by trade. How does she manage to control her kid's Internet usage? "Setting passwords and privacy settings, but also by monitoring my child."

There's a lot you can do to protect kids while they're online just by making adjustments to the web browser settings. A web browser is the software application that gives you access to the Internet. The most common browsers are Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome.

The one caveat is that there are no universal settings on your computer or device. You'll need to make adjustments to each browser to improve safety for your kids no matter how they access the Internet.

Internet Explorer

Windows has created technology called Family Safety that can be set up on PCs, Xboxes and Windows phones. With Family Safety you can control the amount of time spent online, block specific websites or content, prevent online chatting and set defaults based on age. You can also block games and apps in the Windows store with Family Safety.

To control which websites your kids have access to do the following:

  • Sign in to the Family Safety Website.
  • Click on your kid's account.
  • Select the Web Filtering option.
  • Select the website categories your kid can see.

Using Family Safety you can also monitor their Internet usage and see which search terms they use on Bing. This can help you make adjustments to the settings to minimize your kid's exposure to adult content.

Other ways to make Internet Explorer safer include:

  • Enable Windows SmartScreen - It will alert you if there is a high risk for malware and phishing on a website.
  • Use Parental Controls within your Windows user account.

Mozilla Firefox

Parental controls give guardians the ability to set parameters for what can show up on Firefox. A unique feature of Firefox is that it will use the computer's existing parental controls to set a default safety mode. When you set things this way kids can't adjust the browser settings because it has to be done through your password protected computer parental controls.

The browser itself doesn't have built-in parental controls. Instead, there are dozens of add-ons that can add and extend parental controls. These extensions allow for website and content blocking, control over pop-ups, limiting the time spent using Firefox and much more. Adding extensions allows you to customize the controls that you use. Once they are installed you can access them in the Add-ons section of the menu.

You can also enhance the security settings in Firefox by doing the following:

  • Click on the Open Menu icon in the top right corner.
  • Click on Preferences.
  • Select the Security tab at the top.
  • Check the boxes for:
    • Warn me when sites try to install add-ons
    • Block reported attack sites
    • Block reported web forgeries

Safari

Have an iPhone, iPod or iPad? Then you're surfing the web on the Safari browser. To control Internet usage on iOS devices you'll need to enable Restrictions first. Restrictions are essentially the same as parental controls in that they let you block access to apps. To turn on restrictions for Safari:

  • Go to Settings.
  • Click on General.
  • Scroll down and tap on Restrictions.
  • Then tap Enable Restriction and enter your passcode to turn it on.
  • You'll then be able to select each feature and app you want the Restrictions applied to, including Safari.
  • You can also disabling the downloading of new apps, which is a good feature.
  • To change or disable the Restrictions setting you'll need to enter the passcode.

Safari does not block web content so you'll have to disable it using Restrictions. To continue to use the Internet on an iOS device install an app like Net Nanny which allows for parental control when using the Internet on an Apple device.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is one of the newest options, but it's quickly becoming one of the most popular browsers. This is partly due to the release of Chromecast and the streamlined look. It doesn't have the most robust parental controls, but additional filters can be added to enhance the browser's security.

First let's set up the built-in parental controls:

  • Go to www.google.com/preferences.
  • At the top of the page you can check the box for the SafeSearch to filter out adult content from search results.
  • Click save at the bottom of the page.
  • Next create a Supervised User account for Chrome. This will allow you to see what webpages the supervised user (your kid) has accessed through Chrome, block them in the future and keep the supervised user from installing apps and extensions.
    • Click on the menu icon
    • Under the Users setting click Add Person
    • Set up the profile with a name and picture
    • Check the box to control and see the webpages the user accesses
    • Finally click Add
    • To adjust the settings for this user go to your Supervised User Dashboard
    • Click into the Permissions section
    • Click Manage
    • In the Allow section select Only Approved Sites
    • You can then block websites by adding the URL with * in front of it. For example, *website.com
  • Next lock your account so that the supervised user can't see your information.
    • Login to your profile
    • Click Exit and Childlock

Don't forget to also adjust the settings on your search engines as well for all of the browsers your kids use. To add extra security you can also set parental controls within your computer's operating system and use tools provided by your Internet Service Provider.

"1 in 20 children– has arranged a secret meeting with someone they met online."

- Netmums survey of 825 kids


Teaching kids Internet safety is as important as teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street. Don't wait until their safety, your financial security or a family member's identity is compromised. Take action against cyber criminals that use the Internet to gain access into our lives and the lives of our children.