When choosing a broadband supplier, it is important to consider how your family will be using the Internet so that you can put together a package to suit everyone’s needs. Purchasing a broadband deal for a family can be a little more challenging than purchasing it for yourself as you will need to consider security aspects such as parental controls. We’ll look below at some areas to consider when looking into a new broadband provider.
Most broadband suppliers will offer some sort of parental controls to restrict access to certain parts of the internet or certain services. This will often be via some sort of software supplied alongside the router; sometimes it may also be installed within the firmware on the router itself. It is worth checking with the broadband suppliers first to see how it is included.
The parental controls themselves will block any harmful websites that your children may come across while browsing the Internet. For example, they may stumble across a pornography website or gambling sites that are not for young person's eyes. Restricting this via the parental controls software or firmware should be sufficient to blocking most of these sites but may not block everything. We’d recommend that if you are keen to block access to certain areas of the web then consider purchasing a standalone broadband router so that you have more control over what sites can be accessed and what can’t. Some of the newer broadband routers come with enhanced capabilities to prevent access to a range of sites.
It is possible to set up time restriction so that certain members of the family (meaning the kids) can’t access the Internet past their bed time for example. You may also want to restrict access at times when they should be doing things such as homework or chores around the house. This will give them an incentive to get homework done.
Time restrictions can be controlled in a number of ways depending on how your broadband supplier has set it up. If you are provided with software alongside your broadband you may have to set it up on individual devices, and this isn’t always practical or idea. Therefore it is better to invest in a router that has the ability to set restrictions on its firmware. The broadband router may have several methods to do this; you may be able to select individual restrictions based on the devices MAC Address, however, it is much more practical to set up a separate wireless access point that has its own restrictions. Give this wireless access point to your kids and don’t make them aware of your “Master” access point.
You can also set up time limits on your broadband which works by allowing access to the Internet for a certain time period. So, you may wish to allow your children to have access to the Internet for an hour our two but no more. It is a device specific service you can either set up via the router firmware or via an external software.
Most major broadband providers will have some kind of parental controls as part of their broadband package. However, there are some which have more robust and feature inclusive.
TalkTalk is one of the UK’s largest broadband suppliers, and so it stands to reason that they would be offering additional features like parental controls. TalkTalk Homesafe has many features for families including “Homework Time” which allows you to block access to certain areas of the Internet during homework time. You can block social media sites, gaming, etc. and allow access to reference sites that will aid in Homework so no more excuses for “needing access to the Internet” you can restrict what you don’t want them to access at certain times.
TalkTalk Homesafe also has basic parental control features to block access to certain sites such as pornography or gambling.
BT offer some basic parental control features like TalkTalk, blocking sites such as pornography and gambling. In general, the filters work OK, but according to many reviews, it can be quite easy to bypass certain filters, so that is worth considering with BT.
BT also have time control features which can allow the parental controls to be switch off at certain times of the day. While not as comprehensive as TalkTalk’s Homesafe the features are still better than most broadband suppliers.
Sky Broadband offer the most comprehensive controls of all suppliers, and they extend to their TV services as well.
Sky Broadband Shield is the simplest of all of the parental controls we have tested; they have a website dedicated to it. The broadband Shield has simple parental control features such as the like of controls on BT and TalkTalk. It will block certain sites and also set up time restrictions. Sky Broadband Shield offers simple restriction controls under the categories of PG, 13, 18 in a similar vein to its TV and film ratings.
Sky also offer a free trial of McAfee Security suite on up to 3 PC’s over 12 months which is a great way to keep secure online and trailing the features of McAfee without spending a lot of money for protection. If you were to keep the broadband package for just 12 months, this means that you can use McAfee for the duration of your contract. Considering the costs of Anti-Virus and Firewall protection, this is can be a great deal of cash you could take into account when choosing a broadband supplier.