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How to Block Pornography on Your Child's Devices

Parents and caregivers can use these tools to limit adult videos and images on phones, tablets, and computers.

Parent using laptop, with pre-teen child using phone in the background

Here's the thing: There's a chance your child might come across pornography online. Setting up filters on the tech that children use is a good way to keep them from seeing sexually explicit videos and images—especially for younger children.

However, no filter is 100% effective. That's why it's also important to have age-appropriate conversations with younger children and pre-teens and teens about pornography.

Here are five ways to block pornography on phones, tablets, and other devices:

Turn on browser filters, like Google SafeSearch

Setting up Google SafeSearch will block explicit images, videos, and websites.

  • Use this guide to set up Google SafeSearch on computers, phones, and other iOS or Android devices your child uses.

  • Check the filters every now and then. These filters can be pretty easy for children to turn off, so make sure they're still working properly.

Use parental controls

Parental controls on phones and other devices can let you block specific apps and websites. You can also make shared family accounts that are password protected.

For Phones and Tablets

  • If you use Apple devices: Use the Screen Time option to restrict explicit apps, websites, games, and more. This includes movies and TV shows that aren't age appropriate for your child.

  • If you use Android devices: Set up parental controls on Google Play. This will prevent your child from downloading apps that aren't age appropriate for them. You can also use the Google Family Link app to set filters on websites and apps.

For Desktops and Laptops

Ask your internet service provider (ISP)

Depending on your service, these settings can apply to TV channels as well as the internet. These programs may cost money.

  • Check the website or call your ISP. See if your internet company offers parental controls, content filters, or other screen-time features. These can effectively limit exposure to pornography.

  • Look for different options from the company. Every company designs these filters differently. Their websites should have details and guides on their parent or family sections. Check out these options from popular providers: AT&T, Cox, Verizon.

Install software

These programs can give parents and caregivers a lot of control. Many of them require paid subscriptions, although some have free trials.

  • Explore options based on your family's budget and needs. This chart offers a good overview of available products and what they do.

  • Review the settings. Try out free trials from reputable companies to get a sense of what they offer. Options can range from blocking certain websites to getting alerts if your child uses specific search terms. Look for programs that work with your devices and feel manageable to you.

Go the hardware route

Hardware can let you monitor every device on the Wi-Fi network in your home. Like parental control software, many include paid subscriptions. They don't cover children's devices when they connect to other networks, like at a friend's house or out in public.

  • Determine your existing setup. Your internet router may already have built-in filtering services you might not have explored yet. Open the network icon on your main computer to see whether it has anything that looks like parental controls. Get more instructions on how to do this.

  • Check out the available products. Look for products that work with your network router. Circle Home Plus and Gryphon are popular with families. If you're buying a new router, search for one with advanced features and parental controls. Here's a good guide for finding routers.

  • Select which devices you want to monitor. The big advantage of router filters is that you can choose specific devices. You may not want to monitor your own devices, unless there's a chance your child will use them.

Learn more in the 2023 Common Sense report, "Teens and Pornography."

Caroline Knorr, former senior parenting editor, contributed to this article.

Common Sense Media

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