I answered a question for one of our teachers today at school and emailed this to our entire staff in case it’s of interest. Here’s a slightly modified version of what I shared via email:

With more wifi devices than ever and kids getting online (sometimes) in their bedrooms and not just in “the family room” on “the family computer,” it’s a good idea to put at least a basic layer of web filtering in place for protection to block pornography at home. Our family has used OpenDNS for the past 5 or so years, first as a free service (which works great) and now for $20 per year so we can see stats/reports on access. You configure your home Internet router (in the same way you can change the name of your wifi network or change your password) to set this up. More info is on:

http://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/parental-controls/opendns-home/

I have some older posts about this if you want to read more:

  1. Home Internet Content filtering needs: Solved with OpenDNS (January 2008)
  2. The Value of OpenDNS (free) content filtering at home (March 2008)
  3. Configuring FREE Home Content Filtering with OpenDNS (June 2011)

There are NO guarantees when it comes to Internet content filtering at school or home, but it can be good to have something in place… and free is always a good price. I first learned about OpenDNS at the Apple Store, because they were using it (at the time) to block Facebook.

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  • richtcs

    What are your thoughts about using OpenDNS school-wide? That is, instead of the more traditional local, hardware-based proxy server filtering? I agree that for the home user, it’s a terrific solution – it’s got to be the simplest filter to configure (no hardware or software to install). As our school’s IT infrastructure evolves away from local servers, it makes me think that “cloud filtering” could make more sense too.

  • http://www.speedofcreativity.org Wesley Fryer

    Depending on the school situation, OpenDNS could be a fantastic solution. Looking at their website and the “school solutions” as well as “CIPA Compliance” areas it’s clear some schools do go with them for filtering. For larger districts I think you want to have more data about user activity than OpenDNS will provide, my perception is that it provides some but not everything you likely want and need when you need to investigate something for the authorities. Another issue is that OpenDNS can be relatively easily bypassed by simply putting in a different DNS server into your computer, for instance Google’s DNS of 8.8.8.8. If TCP/IP settings on client machines are locked this may not be a simple process, but on BYOD devices it likely is. As saavy as students are and can be, I’m pretty confident this workaround would become common knowledge at school. So while OpenDNS would provide a CIPA compliant filtering option, it would be easily circumventable and you’d want to weigh that in your overall cost/benefit analysis.

    If you’re interested in pursuing this further I’d recommend contacting the OpenDNS sales folks and asking for case studies and contacts (if they’ll provide them) of customers who have and continue to use OpenDNS as an all-school filtering solution.

    What are your thoughts/opinions about it?

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