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Parental Controls

Live Parental Controls works at the router level, so all traffic on your local network - even game consoles, iPads, and Smart Phones can be controlled. When you make a request for a web site, normally, the DNS lookup is done by your ISP.

With Live Parental Controls, the DNS request is forwarded by your router to OpenDNS. OpenDNS evaluates your request, applies your selected filtering rules, and either directs you to your requested site, or returns a webpage that informs you that your request has been blocked.

Setting up Live Parental Controls is simple. First you download the Live Parental Controls management utility from The management console is shown in Figure 5. Next, you choose to use an existing OpenDNS account or create a free account.

Live Parental Controls Management Utility

Figure 5: Live Parental Controls Management Utility

Finally, you choose the default filtering level to apply to your network(Figure 6).

Choose a filtering level for your network

Figure 6: Choose a filtering level for your network

That's all it takes to set up basic Live Parental Controls. If you want more granular control over your network, you can click on the "Change Custom Settings" link shown in Figure 5. This will take you to the OpenDNS web site.

Here you can view which of the 57 categories are blocked by each filtering level. You can also choose to add a time block with a different filtering profile. This would be useful, for example, to set a more restrictive filtering level for kids after school before their parents arrive home. Alternatively, you can choose categories and create your own customized filtering profile as shown in Figure 7.

OpenDNS provides 57 categories of filtering

Figure 7: OpenDNS provides 57 categories of filtering

Of course, the default filtering level may not be appropriate for everyone in the household. Parents will probably want a less restrictive filter than what they want for their children. OpenDNS handles this with "bypass accounts". Within your account, you can create bypass accounts with individual filtering levels and/or time blocks.

Figure 8 shows two bypass accounts that I created for my account. In order to use the bypass account feature, you need to download and install a small Windows utility. Currently, there doesn't appear to be a Mac bypass utility but NETGEAR advises that one will be available sometime in the fourth quarter.

Setting bypass accounts

Figure 8: Setting bypass accounts

This utility must be running, and you must log in with the bypass account name/password (cellison in the example) in order to bypass the default settings. This bypass account disables filtering for bypass user cellison.

Should you attempt to go to a web site that's blocked by your filtering profile, OpenDNS will send you a blocked page that explains why you didn't arrive at your site (Figure 9.) You can also see why this service is offered for free - it's supported by advertising.

Blocked website

Figure 9: Blocked website

OpenDNS offers a VIP service for $9.95/year that eliminates the advertisements, allows you to create a customized block page, and keeps reporting metrics for a year.

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