How to prevent certain types of websites from being viewed from an Android mobile device? How to block access to certain Android apps and prevent purchases from the Google Play Store? Over the years, Google has added several features to enable parental controls on Android ( parental control, in English), but how can you enable them, and how best to configure them? It should be noted that not all features are usable on all Android devices available on the market. Some are only present in Android 5.0 Lollipop and following releases but may be absent if the manufacturer had decided to deeply customize Google’s operating system.
Android Parental Control: Add A Restricted Profile User
Since Google introduced Android 5.0 Lollipop, the ability to add limited user profiles has been planned. Touch the Users item in the Android settings and then choose Add User. The step-by-step procedure will allow you to create a limited account ( Restricted profile ) for access to the mobile device and manually specify the apps that can be run by the User among those installed.
Alternatively, you can create a normal user account (with its personal space and specific Android apps). In this case, it will be possible to disable – for example – the possibility of making calls. In the case of the Restricted profile, if you still need to set up protection for the main account, Android will ask you to set a PIN for the main User, who will become the administrator of the other accounts.
Alternatively, if using the multi-user approach is impossible, you can use a handy app like HexLock: Lock Android apps with passwords and protect your data. HexLock lets you decide which apps to make available or block by creating multiple password-protected profiles. Alternatively, you can use App Lock, which allows you to prevent access to various system settings individually.
Also Read: How To Create An Android App
Prevent The Purchase Of Apps From The Play Store
Another operation to be carried out with a view to parental control on Android consists of disabling purchases from the Play Store. From the Play Store app installed on your Android device, you must access the settings and then scroll through the various settings until you find Require authentication for purchases. Here you can select For all purchases on Google Play from this device.
In doing so, all purchases – including in-app purchases – must be previously authorized and confirmed. Possibly, on devices equipped with a fingerprint reader, it is possible to confirm the purchase by fingerprint authentication to speed up the procedure. On the same screen, there is also the Parental control item which allows you to set restrictions based on the unique content type. For apps and video games, reference is made to the PEGI classification ( Pan European Game Information ), which the Google Play Store has long embraced. To block the installation of apps from other sources, we suggest checking that the Unknown Sources setting ( Security section ) is turned off.
Restrict Web Browsing By Blocking Inappropriate Content
On all Android devices, it is very simple to set up “ad hoc” DNS servers. Using those that integrate filtering functions for inappropriate content will prevent the visit of all websites that host inappropriate information. To proceed, if the device connects to WiFi to surf the net, go to the Android settings, select the connection, then choose Static in IP settings.
At this point, you will have to assign a private IP address (you can use the IP and MAC binding technique to avoid conflicts: Assign static IP to PC, mobile devices, printers, and so on ) to the device and specify, for example, the DNS servers of OpenDNS equipped with filtering functionality :
The service, completely free, is called OpenDNS Family Shield. On the Play Store, as we explained in the article Change DNS in Android: how to do it, many apps are available to automate the change of DNS without accessing the settings. They all work very well with one serious limitation: they cannot modify the DNS servers used when using the mobile operator’s data connection (for example, 3G/4G).
This depends on the fact that Android does not allow this modification by default, which is only possible after acquiring root rights. Applications like DNS Changer are decisive and work without rooting the Android device. Still, they imply the activation and use of a VPN managed by the application’s authors. In other words, the app modifies the DNS server by passing all data through a VPN.
Frankly, we do not feel comfortable recommending this approach, always preferring personal VPNs (such as the one that can be activated at home or in the office) or with mirrored characteristics: The best VPNs compared. And even the worst. To change the DNS on the mobile operator’s data connection, you can follow the instructions given in the in-depth study on How to block sites on Android after rooting your Android smartphone.
OpenDNS Also Allows You To Monitor The Sites Opened On All Devices If You Configure The Service’s DNS
To proceed, follow the instructions in the article. Check the sites visited by the router, local network, and WiFi with OpenDNS. The only attention is always to communicate the updated public IP address used by the devices connected to your router to OpenDNS. In addition to the suggestions indicated in the article, if you are not using a static IP, consider installing the Dynamic DNS Update app, which works very well and is also compatible with DNS-o-Matic, offered by OpenDNS.