Not long ago, my fridge at home went out and we needed another one. Being one always looking for a deal I found an open box buy that was in our price point. They delivered it but unfortunately, it didn’t work. Maybe there was a reason it was an open box? Anyways, the place we bought it had a more expensive model that they gave us for the same price. It was delivered, and it worked. Yay! No more living out of ice chests.
One day while using the fridge, I noticed a label on the inside of it and it showed a Wireless SSID. This meant the fridge can be connected to our Wi-Fi. Without hesitation, I dove into the manual and figured out how to connect it and viola. I now have a fridge my phone can communicate with. It doesn’t do much but hey, it’s connected and that’s all that matters.
You used to have to be in front of a computer that sat on or under a desk with a wire connected to the wall to get access to the internet. Okay, it wasn’t as bad as the image but you were still tied to a desk. However, nowadays data connections are everywhere. You can be on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic, trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, or cruising at 400 knots at 26,000/ft and still have a data connection. Technology is an impressive, ever-changing branch of science that is with us everywhere we go, whether we want it to or not.
We always need to be mindful of always on, always connected devices in our home, especially when it comes to our children. The Internet is a great thing, but it is also scary and dangerous. Those of us old enough, remember life without it but our children today don’t even know life without a DVR or Netflix.
When it comes to safeguarding our homes, with regards to the Internet, there is a free solution provided by OpenDNS. OpenDNS provides a service that can help prevent children and others in your home, from accessing content on the Internet. The most basic and easiest service to setup automatically blocks certain content. Simply follow their step by step guide once and you’ll be restricting access to adult content and malicious sites without having to do anything else. It’s like magic and it’s free.
They offer 2 free services: OpenDNS Family Shield (mentioned above) and OpenDNS Home. OpenDNS Home allows you to block even more content by giving you more control. You can choose to block certain websites, or you can choose to block entire categories like hate, chat, drugs, tobacco, dating and many more. Trying to block websites one at a time is an impossible task. Nobody has that much time. Thanks to OpenDNS we have a free service we can take advantage of that helps us protect our home network.
Watch Out for This
OpenDNS is a great solution but it is not full proof. There are ways around it, but you would have to really know what you are doing and before you say it, no, not all kids know how to get around it. Even though they won’t be able to get around your safeguards on your home network, they might have a phone with a data plan. With this, a child could easily turn off Wi-Fi on his/her device and use cellular data. It would then be up to your provider to provide protection from websites. Some carriers like T-Mobile do offer web filters which can help in keeping kids off those sites but again, it’s not full proof.
Even if you use a carrier that uses web filters, that still can’t stop your child from going over to a friend’s house and connecting to another Wi-Fi or connect to an open Wi-Fi at a local store or fast food joint. At this point, OpenDNS and carrier filters no longer work. You now have to rely on someone else’s Wi-Fi network do the filtering. Let’s face it. That probably won’t happen.
We can do all of this and still not keep them from looking at things or talking to people they shouldn’t. We can take away their phones, tablets and computers and that is still not enough because they can still borrow a device from their friend and look and talk to whoever they want to anyway. Even libraries aren’t safe. Go to your local library and you’ll see desk after desk of computers that are free to use by anyone and most of those have no filters either.
Keep the communication going
Since kids can get around anything we set up, does this mean we shouldn’t bother? Absolutely not. We should do everything we can to protect our kids from this stuff. The best way to protect our kids from the dangers of this world is to talk to them. Don’t rely on just technology. Technology is great, but it is not an end-all-be-all solution. Talk to your kids. Engage your kids. Keep the conversation going. Tell them of the dangers and the consequences. As my mom says, “get in their business”.