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How to keep your kids safe online and block websites

We'll show you how to make sure your children stay safe online and also how to block websites

The internet is stuffed full of great resources and activities for kids, but there’s a danger they’ll find and do things which aren’t so wholesome. We continue our feature below, showing you how to keep your children safe online.

Smartphones and tablets

Windows isn't the only operating system that your kids are likely to use these days. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, children can access pretty much all the content you might have blocked on a desktop PC or laptop.

An easy way to restrict internet access and any other communication is to enable flight mode before you give the device to your child. Savvy kids will easily work out how to disable this, however.

Nokia Lumia 920 Kids Corner

Windows Phone 8

Mobile operating systems vary in their support for parental controls, with the new Windows Phone 8 leading the pack with its Kid's Corner. This is a separate, sandboxed area where your kids can access apps, games, music and videos that you select for them.

Configuring Kid's Corner is simple, and your child can access it by swiping left instead of up on the lock screen. If they do swipe up, they'll see the usual PIN entry screen, so can't access the main phone features. It's ideal if you want to share your own phone with a child.To enable Kid's Corner, go to Settings, then Kid's Corner. You can tap each app, game, video and music track you're happy for your kids to play.

iOS

Apple has put some parental controls in iOS, but they affect the whole OS so any restrictions apply to anyone who uses the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch - not just kids.

To set up an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad for your kids to use, tap on Settings, then General and then Restrictions. You'll have to enter a PIN to enable Restrictions in order that a child can't simply re-enable the apps or other settings.

iOS Restrictions Parental Controls

You can disable certain built-in apps such as Safari, but you can restrict other apps only by their age rating (or disallow access entirely). Similarly you can restrict films by age, TV shows by those rated Caution and music / podcasts with explicit content.

You will also probably want to disable location services for Facebook, Twitter and any other social networking apps. There are lots of other privacy settings which prevent apps accessing your photos, contacts, calendars and more, and the ability to disable multiplayer games and adding new friends in Game Center.

Safari itself has no parental controls, but you can disable it and install another, such as AVG's Family Safety. This is a free app which blocks inappropriate websites and keeps you safe from phishing websites, and those containing malware.

It's also sensible to disable in-app purchases, as well as the ability to install apps.

New in iOS 6 is Guided Access (shown above, left). This effectively disables all hardware buttons once within an app preventing kids from accessing anything else. You'll find the setting in General > Accessibility.

Once enabled, triple-press the Home button after launching an app to enable Guided Access. You can then draw on the screen to disable certain areas. Tap the Options button to disable touch altogether.

Android

Google's Android OS doesn't have much in the way of parental controls, and really requires you to download a parental control app.

What it does have is built-in content filtering for the Google Play store so you can restrict which apps can be downloaded. To do this, launch the Play store app and press your device's menu button and choose Settings from the menu.

Android Content Filtering

Scroll down to Content filtering, tap it and choose to allow apps rated for low, medium or high maturity.

This goes some way to preventing kids from downloading inappropriate apps, but there are many alternative apps you can install which do a more thorough job.

Consider the free Kid Mode app. This provides something similar to Windows Phone 8's Kid's Corner. It lets kids play their favourite Android games, read stories and paint pictures, but there's no way to accidentally buy anything, delete your emails or access any other app or setting on your device.

Kid Mode for Android

There are also lots of other parental control apps to choose between, including those from Kaspersky, Norton and the popular Funamo.

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