The Internet is filled with content on any topic you can imagine, including objectionable content that is designed for adult reading. This means parents should rightfully be concerned about what their children may be subject to online. While you can make sure your child knows what websites they are allowed on, what could start as an innocent search could turn up bad results that can leave your children uncomfortable or subject them to something you don’t approve of. This is where web content filtering comes in handy to help you block this content and keep your children safe online.

What Is Content Filtering?

In general, content filtering is described as a program that can be used to block certain content from being viewed on a computer or mobile device. This can include emails as well, ensuring your children are safe from the types of content you want them to see. By installing web content filtering software on your computer, you will gain full control over what your children are able to see, effectively blocking the content you don’t want them to see. While this isn’t an alternative to proper supervision while your child is online, it can help provide protection so you don’t have to constantly stand over your child’s shoulder.

In addition to being used in the home, content filters can be used by corporations. In these situations, a content filter isn’t used as a method of blocking objectionable content in general. Instead, it is typically used to prevent employees from using the Internet for something other than work tasks and to reduce the risk of viruses being transmitted between work computers.

How Does It Work?

An Internet content filter can be a valuable tool for parents, schools, libraries, corporations and any other place where it may be useful to restrict the types of content individuals can view. In many cases, content filtering software uses a variety of methods to evaluate the content and determine whether the user is allowed to view it. Some software comes with a variety of preset options, while most of them will allow you to customize the filters used to block content. It all depends on what you expect it to do.

One of the biggest advantages of presets is they often block pornographic content from computers and other devices. This can be done both for adults and children alike, especially in schools and libraries, to prevent anyone from viewing this objectionable content. However, children’s filters often block much more, including graphic depictions of violence and other questionable types of content, allowing children to safely search for terms without concern over whether the results will contain content the child shouldn’t see.

If you enter the settings of the content filter software, you will be able to add additional content filters that can help you hide other types of content from your children or other computer users. In some cases, you can choose various restrictions that are already listed in your filtering software, while others may require you to enter words and phrases you want to be blocked. If the filter identifies the specified words or phrases, the site will be blocked from viewing. You may need to make adjustments to ensure only the content you want to be blocked is inaccessible.

Are There Potential Downsides?

Unfortunately, a web content filter isn’t perfect and you may encounter problems along the way. In most cases, these filters are excellent at blocking the content you don’t want your child to see. However, it’s difficult to create a perfect system, especially if you customize the words and phrases you choose to block. Sometimes words and phrases have multiple meanings, which can lead to blocked content that is actually useful to the user.

For this reason, it’s important to make sure you check the settings often and make adjustments to ensure users can have access to what they need without letting the items you don’t want them to see through. This is also why it’s still important for parents to closely monitor Internet usage to ensure nothing is getting through that shouldn’t be.

Find the Best Option for Your Needs

Content filtering software is available from a number of companies, giving you a variety of price ranges and features to help you find the right option for your needs. There is even some filtering software that is free to use, giving parents access to the tools they need to keep their children safe as they browse the Internet for school work or entertainment. LifeHacker provides a listing of the best filtering software options, helping you evaluate the various features so you can find one that is easy to use and provides the coverage you need to protect your children.

When it comes to protecting your children online, talking to them about the potential dangers is just one step in the process. There are also steps you can take to prevent them from visiting certain websites you don’t want them to see. In addition to directly blocking specific websites, you can also use content filters designed to block content that falls under a specified category or contains certain content phrases. Many of the software options are easy to use so parents can quickly and easily block the content they don’t want their children to see. This is important so even parents who aren’t familiar with technology can feel confident their children are safe online.