The best internet filter for your family is one you can trust to protect your children from dangers on the internet. There are many parental control software options to help you make a wise decision about your family’s internet use. Disciplining children in the digital age involves helping them use technology with wisdom and integrity. Parental control software and Christian internet filters are excellent tools to help your children navigate the dangers of the internet. We’ve reviewed several internet filters and listed tips to help you decide which one is best for your family.
|Best overall||Best package||Best for free||Best for families||Best for accountability|
|Covenant Eyes||Netsanity||Open DNS||Qustodio||Accountable2You|
|Best feature: Unlimited devices||Best feature: Automatic safesearch||Best feature: Family Shield||Best feature: Scheduled time limits||Best feature: Protected reports|
Read our five best internet filter reviews.
How to choose the best internet filter for your family
The best internet filter for your family depends on your needs and concerns. Are you looking for a filter to block dangerous or inappropriate websites? Do you want to monitor time on games or social media apps? Do you want to see an accountability report? You also need to consider what kind of devices (laptops, phones, tablets, etc.) you plan to put parental control software on. Answering these questions will help you narrow down your selection to find the right internet filter for your family.
Which type of content filtering is best for your family?
While deciding between internet filters, accountability software, or web blockers, first ask yourself the following questions:
- What can you afford to spend on a software program?
- Do you want both accountability and filtering?
- How many accountability partners do you want?
- What devices need protection?
- How many devices need protection?
What is an internet filter?
An internet filter, or content-control software, restricts access to content on the internet. With a filter, you can choose which websites to allow and which to deny. You can set permissions to visit certain web pages and block out everything else. Or you can choose to have the filter block certain website categories with dangerous or inappropriate content. These filters can be either browser extensions, downloadable programs, or a part of your network or router settings.
Why filter your internet?
Internet filters help protect your children when they’re on the internet and you aren’t with them. Many dangerous websites serve content that could be harmful to your family. Internet filters allow you to guard your children’s internet experience from malicious, harmful, or inappropriate content. They can also help your children learn to set boundaries around time spent on the internet.
The importance of internet filters for Christians
Guarding our hearts and minds doesn’t stop while surfing the internet. With easy access to pornography and other inappropriate content, it’s easy to sin online and think no one is going to know or that it’s no big deal. We need to model integrity and honesty in our internet usage for our children. God cares about what we do when no one is looking. Even when we try to avoid inappropriate content, it can pop up on the screen and catch us off-guard. That’s why internet filters and parental control software are so important.
First Thessalonians 5:22 exhorts us to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” The phrase can also be translated as “every form of evil.” As God’s children, we must be vigilant in guarding ourselves and our children from evil in all its forms, including content on the internet. As believers, we are called to a life of holiness. We must rely on God’s grace and strength and never think we are above reproach. Having boundaries is helpful, but it’s most important that we and our children choose holiness and fight sin in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Christian internet filters
Some internet filters are created by Christian organizations. Any brand will accomplish the same goals just as well, but some companies are run by believers who have Christians in mind when designing their filters. Some Christian companies are:
- Covenant Eyes
- Ever Accountable
Internet Filters, Accountability Software, and Web Blockers—What’s the difference?
Internet filters restrict access to content on the internet based on specified criteria. Accountability software monitors internet usage and sends reports to an accountability partner. Web blockers specialize in denying access to and banning content on certain web pages.
Internet filters vs accountability software
Accountability software monitors internet usage and sends reports to a designated accountability partner(s). This accountability encourages users to avoid inappropriate or objectionable content. If you use accountability software for your children, the software sends you reports about what sites they visited. It will flag any content you may find concerning. This system encourages you to have open, honest conversations about your children’s internet use.
Accountability software is great for helping your kids grow in integrity. Naturally, your kids may be hesitant and fearful of being caught viewing inappropriate content. The nature of sin is fearful and ignorant. It’s important to give your kids grace and show them kindness as you help them grow. Being accusatory will cause them to build walls while being gracious and understanding will help build trust.
Internet filters vs web blockers
Web blockers specialize in denying access to and banning content on certain web pages. They keep users from accessing inappropriate, violent, or dangerous content. Blockers can also be used to block certain web pages to limit distractions. For example, during focus time, you can use a web blocker to only allow kids to access their schoolwork.
How to filter internet content
You can set up internet content filters in several different ways.
- First, you’ll need to set up an account with the software of your choice (e.g., OpenDNS, Microsoft Family Safety, Covenant Eyes).
- After you set up the account, you’ll likely have to install a browser extension or download a program. Through the software, you can choose what to filter. Most filters allow you to choose specific types of sites to block and limit your children to kid-friendly sites.
- Many kinds of content-control software allow you to also set up filters for apps, games, and search engines in addition to content pages.
How to control internet usage at home
You can control your internet usage at home in a couple by using passwords or a router. Passwords require your children to ask you for permission for access, and you can know whenever they’re on their devices. You can also manage your router’s settings. Through your router, you can set your internet to turn off at a certain time each day, block certain websites, and stop Wi-Fi usage on specific devices. Each router is a little different, so you’ll have to research what abilities your Wi-Fi has.
5 Best Internet Filters
Installing one of the filters we’ve recommended below will allow you to monitor your child’s online activity. You can use these apps to limit screen time, filter what content your children see, and customize what reports you get. Some filters also notify you as soon as suspicious or concerning activity occurs.
Covenant Eyes: Overall best internet filter
- Doesn’t slow down your browser
- Compatible with all devices
- Customizable filters for adults and families with kids
- Unlimited devices
- Monitors YouTube
- Slow on android app
- iOS functionality: Won’t work with default browser.
- You will have to use the CovenantEyes browser.
CovenantEyes is a screen accountability software that monitors onscreen content for offensive or inappropriate material. This allows it to monitor YouTube videos, while most other filters cannot. Because the software doesn’t rely on checking URLs it won’t slow down your internet. In addition to being an accountability software, CovenantEyes has options for filtering and blocking content.
There are different levels of filters you can use. The adult screening blocks all pornography sites and enables safesearch. The family settings are more secure, have stricter filters for websites, turn on safesearch, and enable YouTube restricted mode.
Cost: $15.99 a month. And you can try it risk free for 30 days.
Netsanity: Best parental control software package
- 30 preset categories for blocking websites
- Phone and device locator
- Automatic safesearch
- Simple installation
- Not necessarily designed for use on computers
Netsanity works for iPhone, iPad, and Samsung mobile devices. It is a great option for parents looking to moderate their kids’ mobile phone and device usage. You can block apps, games, and their “catblocker” filters out the categories you designate. They have around 30 preset categories you can choose from. You can also set parental controls about time spent on the device and when their apps will time out. With their family plan, you can add up to 25 devices.
Cost: The free version that blocks porn, includes 2 devices with safesearch and logs the last hour of activity. You can also upgrade to the premium plan for even more features for $6.95 a month. They also offer a 14-day free trial on premium accounts.
Open DNS: Best free internet filter
- Filters all devices on the network
- All important features are free
- Family shield already set up to block adult content
- Doesn’t offer reporting
- Cannot report which device accessed what
- May not protect against malware and phishing links
Open DNS is a free internet filter with customizable filter settings and basic protection against malicious content. There are over 50 customizable filtering categories to help parents control what their kids can access on the internet. Open DNS is set up through your router settings, meaning you don’t have to set it up on individual devices. It also means that guest devices connected to your Wi-Fi have the same restrictions.
Qustodio: Best internet filter for families
- Well designed
- Time limits and blocks for games & apps
- Easy to set time limits or a time schedule
- Monitors YouTube
- Works across different platforms
- iOS limitations
- Limits which browsers you can use
- Slow on web
Qustodio includes web filters, app blocking, and social media monitoring. You can also track location on your kids’ mobile devices. The web design is easy to figure out, and their app is easy to use as well. For their web filters, you can block any unwanted categories and make sure your kids use safesearch when searching on Google and Bing. Their time restrictions are also great if you want to manage when your kids can be on the internet and for how long.
Costs per year:
- Small plan: $54.95 (5 devices)
- Medium plan: $96.95 (10 devices)
- Large plan: $137.95 (15 devices)
Accountable2You: Best accountability software
- Only shows the title of webpage in the report
- Plans for both individuals and families
- Very detailed
- No filter
- Time limits only on family plan
Accountable2You works best if you are only looking for an accountability software. This program will monitor your internet browsing, device activity, apps, and more. When someone accesses a site with trigger words on it, the accountability partner will be notified immediately. Another great thing about Accountable2You is that they do not send images or URLs to the person seeing the report. Hiding images and URLs is important for the partner so that they are not tempted themselves.
Cost: $84 per year for 6 active installs on the personal plan. The family plan is $144 per year and gives you 20 active installs.
We want to mention a couple of other options for your family that didn’t make our top five.
Review: NetNanny is a popular web filter and parental control software that works well across different devices. It offers multiple layers of protection through personal accountability, alerts, filtering and blocking, setting time limits, unlimited personalized user profiles, and prohibiting obscene language.
Cost: Three different price plans are available are based on the number of devices that need protection. Yearly costs are $39.99 (1 device), $59.99 (5 devices), or $89.99 (10 devices). The latter two plans can be used for iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and PC.
A few more great options:
We tried Net Nanny, but found it unreliable. It worked for maybe 2 weeks and then continuously was unable to communicate with any device. Unfortunately, they did not offer a free trial period and would not prorate any of our 1 year plan. Their customer service was unable to help our issue. Now I am thinking we should try a free service and see if that does anything.
CleanBrowsing.org has good dns-level filters – both free and paid programs.
Luke Johnson says
Avoid OpenDNS they are not as secure. I would like to recommend cloudflare’s dns blocker 188.8.131.52, it does a good job of keeping data private and secure as well as the free family plan. The DNS is easy to put into your router which affects every device connected to it, and will make browsing faster. They have ios and android apps as well to make on the go a safe browsing experience. you can set it up on your kids devices and then use parental mode to disable their access to it. The DNS for family and malware protection 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11 its simple easy and free. Check out their Website: https://18.104.22.168/family/
Thank you for your comment! Arianna did note the concern about reliability and security. However, because the security of a specific software depends a great deal on how updated the software is, the type of device you use, and even the age and skill level of your children, we can’t give an accurate assessment of how secure each platform is. NetNanny was given as an honorable mention because it is so popular, but you’re right, the security concern is its biggest con. The next time we update this post, we will be sure to add a note clarifying that.
I cannot agree with Net Nanny as an honorable mention. It is quite easily defeated by some simple keystrokes. Any reasonably computer-savvy kid will soon have it turned off whenever he wants, leaving no trace that he’s done so.
On that note, I have to say that this is a huge, gaping hole in this review. There is no mention of how secure they are. That’s like reviewing cars and not mentioning their reliability. It’s THE most critical factor.
If you think, “my children would never do that!”, you are fooling yourself. My oldest sons learned how to defeat my protections from their friends in a Christian Boy Scout troop.
BTW, OpenDNS works well at protecting against accidental exposure, and it’s free. If you have no other protection in place, please at least do that. But be aware that it cannot protect against image searches, and it cannot filter YouTube videos, other than blocking YouTube completely.
Thank you for adding it! K9 Web Protection is a free program, but the others can get expensive, especially for families with multiple devices. It looks like familyfriendlydns.com can be a valuable resource for blocking unwanted media, though it seems to only work with Windows right now.
My wife came up with an application called FamilyfriendlyDNS.com. recently, we used to use Net Nanny, however, it’s quite expensive. FamilyFriendlydns.com is free and works pretty well at filtering out profane ad’s and all these sneaky erotic game pop-ups. I’m sure that the software listed on the article is effective, however, it costs money and not everyone can afford such money for web filtering.