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As the Internet expands, it becomes more important to protect and monitor your children's online behavior, whether it's at school or on your home network. Most devices come with parental controls out of the box, as well as a multitude of third-party apps that we can use to track and protect them.
But kids are smart and naturally tech-savvy; Just because the control settings are there doesn't mean kids won't find ways to bypass them. Here are seven ways your kids can bypass parental control software.
Proxy sites redirect traffic in an innocent direction, unhindered by any filters. This means that instead of trying to visit horrificfilthyNSFWcontent.com directly, your child will be redirected to a site likehide meand just tap on the restricted address in the site search bar.
The proxy site takes care of the business by forwarding the request to an external server, which in turn fetches the content on behalf of the user.
Most traffic filtering programs cannot trace communications between the proxy site and the external server, but the proxy site itself is included in a filter. Many filters block the most popular proxy sites precisely for this reason. However, this can have other undesirable effects.
There are thousands of free proxy sites online. All it takes is a dedicated kid with an afternoon to go through them one by one to find one they can access. And while most proxy sites are legitimate and offer the free option of promoting their paid service, some are not.
All it takes is one click in the wrong place to perform a massive and irritating cleanup. Or even worse, full-fledged malware infecting your device.
2. Change or brute force passwords
A very common way to bypass parental controls is to simply change the password. If your kids know you use a specific password for certain accounts, they can do thisChange the settings to your likingwithout alerting anyone.
This problem is particularly widespread among older, tech-savvy children. There are countless ways you can get the password. For example, they can use social engineering to trick you into sending them your password via a fake security email. Or maybe you leave your primary email address open with no password protection so they can reset your password.
Genuine phishing schemes are easier to spot because scammers don't know the model of your first car or your great-aunt's middle name, but your safe kids do.
It's highly unlikely, but your child could also crack your password. If your child knows and can use the powerful password cracking tools, they may have other information security issues as well.
3. Wi-Fi differences
How well do you know your neighbors? You must know their names. Maybe their birthdays, pet names, and an emergency contact number. What about your WiFi password?
Admittedly, this is becoming more and more normal, especially when you're being friendly to your neighbors. However, for families living within reasonable proximity of one another, Wi-Fi coverage is likely to overlap. This means your SSID is visible from home. If your network security isn't up to scratch, your child can easily log into your unsecured network to access the content they want.
It can't even be due to a lack of internet security. If your kids are playing in a cohort with the neighborhood kids, it might be as simple as asking one of the older kids for their WiFi password. If it has been changed from an alphanumeric codesomething "easy to remember", it will be even easier to continue.
It's not just about adults escaping Netflix's regional restrictions by using a virtual private network (VPN). As with proxy sites, you can find plenty of free and discreet VPN solutionsReady to encrypt your kids' searchesEntries and the route between your PC and the company's servers.
Free VPN solutions usually come with limitations such as speed caps, data logging, or a download limit, which somewhat limits the scope of activities that can be accessed. However, it is possible that they can switch between different VPNs installed on their system to ease download limits and speed caps. What's more, it's really quite difficult to spot someone using a VPN with a quick glance over their shoulder.
When they use a VPN, it is extremely difficult to see that they are bypassing the parental filters. Your router does not show a new foreign IP address. Not to mention your broadband provider won't have access to the content delivered. Some VPNs log user details for law enforcement and marketing purposes, but they're still unlikely to share the details of your kids' VPN searches with you.
5. Portable browsers
Long gone are the days when Internet Explorer was used by default. Many browsers are fast and secure, with various additional features.
Most people are familiar with InPrivate or Incognito browsing modes, including toddlers and older children. SafeSearch filtering tools continue to capture blacklisted URLs even when using private mode. Particularly bright teens may have reviewed their personal safety homework andPay attention to the TOR browser, which can be easily installed and deployed from a USB stick.
The TOR browser routes web traffic through various international locations made up of more than 7000 individual repeaters. This multi-layered routing makes it nearly impossible to determine what content a user is viewing while using the browser. Their built-in focus on privacy and anonymity is a great way to bypass their filters.
6. Viewing "random" images
A somewhat trivial "bypass" method, but I'm sure many kids have come across it. Incognito and InPrivate Browsing tabs continue to adhere to the safest search filters, block content appropriately, and share the details with concerned parents.
While search engines work to hide sensitive images from search results, the right combination of search terms can sometimes cause some images to scroll when selecting the "Image" tab. Major search engine providers host and cache content on their own servers, which means that when you type the search, there is no specific URL to filter and numerous related images are displayed.
7. Google Translate Proxy
This is another transfer method that we hope some kids will be familiar with. If a URL is blocked, they can use Google Translate as a makeshift proxy. It's as simple as setting a non-speaking language in the text entry field, typing in the URL you want to access and waiting for Google to automatically translate it.
The "translated" URL becomes its own link in Google instead of the original website. The website opens in full, but inside Google Translate. That can be a bit slow, but it's unlikely to be slow enough to discourage a determined mind.
What can you do?
It's hard to appease a curious mind with one-touch access to all the information the world has to offer. In short, if they are determined, they will have access to it. And when you're not connected to the Internet at home, you're elsewhere on a friend's network or on an unsecured network.
Update your toolkit
Built-in settings and simple tools are easy to overlook, so why not use something designed to keep up with your kids and how they behave online?Google Family-Linkallows you to track their activities and view: how much time they spend on which apps and websites. You can also prevent certain apps from being installed completely.
But instead of going down the ban route, Family Link is designed to give your kids healthy alternatives to banned websites and apps. You can even involve your teachers and schools and let them recommend educational and entertainment apps and websites through Google Family.
Most importantly, limiting kids' time on their personal devices is the best way to get them to prioritize their online activities. Whether it's a set time of day or an active window that ends at bedtime, it's best to get rid of the problem at the source. boredom online.
Educate them and yourself
Younger children are likely to collapsebefore active filtering; Teenagers are much more likely to take up arms and engage in combat. If they continue to get access to restricted content, it's best to maintain a direct connection with them so they don't get into big trouble.
Education is a massive tool. Respectable and acceptable use of the Internet should be a fundamental part of your children's technological development. After a certain age, there are probably other things you should discuss with them as well, especially given the glorification of piracy in entertainment leading to a popularity of piracy among children and young people.
Prohibition has never solved one problem, but it certainly created many more, and curious minds will continue to do so, just without the education that goes with it.
Device usage and access should also be considered. Do small children need the latest iPhone or will a simple tablet suffice? If you give them something without a SIM card, they won't be able to sign in to apps and websites that require a phone number without your direct permission.
Likewise, you could enforce a rule “Internet use only in family areas” or ban tablets, laptops and smartphones from the bedroom at night. However, if your kids are using an iPhone, find out how to do itUse Family Sharing to monitor their activities.
Don't make internet security a prison
It doesn't have to be a terrible experience, but if you take an active, engaged, and realistic attitude toward your children's Internet use, they're much more likely to understand and respect your wishes. And if you need a little more help with multiple devices, check out how to use themParental Control Apps for Chromebooks.