While doing research about how to put parental restrictions in place on my child’s iPod Touch, I found it was recommended to remove Safari, the default browser that comes installed on the device. Safari doesn’t offer any content filtering controls, and I’m of course concerned about the websites and inappropriate content my kids might stumble onto. So while setting up the restrictions on their devices, I removed Safari as the default browser. I then tried to find a kid-friendly alternative to the Safari browser and happened upon Mobicip Safe Browser and thought it was worth checking out. I’m not in any way recommending this as the only or best option. I have no affiliation with the company—it’s just a tool that I decided to try.
Bear in mind too, that no filtering software is going to be bulletproof. My hope is to find something that will make it less likely that my kids will come across things I’d rather they not see.
An Overview of Mobicip Safe Browser
A description from the iTunes App store:
Safe Browser is the most popular parental control app for the iPhone, iPod touch & iPad. The optional web-based dashboard allows you to monitor browsing history remotely and setup a custom internet filter across tablets, smartphones and computers.
Currently Mobicip Smart Browser is available for the following devices and platforms: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows
Mobicip offers a free, basic plan option for mobile devices as well as a premium plan offering greater control of the filters you can set as well as reporting capabilities. The premium plan is available for an annual subscription of $9.99 per device. There is also an option to use Mobicip on your Windows computer, offered only as a subscription service for $9.99 per year, per device.
I chose to try out the free plan for mobile devices to see how it works, and will consider upgrading to the premium plan in the future if I feel it’s necessary.
Getting Started with Mobicip Safe Browser with Parental Control
Setting up Mobicip was really quick and easy. The website is great—with very clear instructions. Simply go to Mobicip.com, click the ‘Get Started’ button and you’ll walk through the process of setting up a parent account. Within that account, you’ll set up a profile for each of the devices to which you will download the Mobicip browser app. In the profile for each device, you can set the level of filtering you’d like. For the free plan, there are only 3 general filtering levels available to you: ‘High School’, ‘Middle School’ or ‘Elementary School.’
The Premium service options offer a much wider range of controls that you can set. With the paid subscription, you can block content by category (ex. addiction, pornography, social networking, etc.). You can also filter out particular websites, set time limits on device usage, limit access to particular networks, and filter content based on phrases. There are even reporting options allowing you to view browsing and email activity on the devices. I don’t have first-hand experience with the premium options, but they appear to be very comprehensive and something I will consider using in the future. For more information about of the Premium services offered by Mobicip for mobile devices, click on the ‘Mobicip Premium’ tab on this page of their website: Parental Controls for iPhone
Once you have set up the user profiles in your account, you will then be instructed to download the Mobicip mobile app to the devices for which you set up a user profile. For Apple devices, this is just a matter of downloading and installing the free app from the iTunes App Store. For an Android device, you can download it from Google Play. Once the app is installed on your device and you launch it for the first time, you’ll be prompted to log into your account and select a user profile for the device from the list of profiles you set up previously.
After selecting the correct profile for the device, you will be presented with instructions on how to turn off Safari, YouTube and the App Store (if you haven’t done so already) and ensure that Mobicip is set as the default browser.
That’s all there is to it!
If you prefer video tutorials, Mobicip offers some great demo videos on their website:
So once you’re up and running with the Mobicip browser, launch the app and give it a whirl. Put in some search terms and see if you get the expected results. I put in the word ‘cocaine’ and this is the screen telling me that content was blocked:
Filtering YouTube Content with Mobicip
One the things I really like about the Mobicip Safe Browser is it’s also useful for filtering YouTube content. When setting restrictions on my kids’ iPod Touch devices, I removed ‘YouTube’ from their home screen, so the only way to access it is through the Mobicip browser. When accessing YouTube.com with the Mobicip browser, the search results from within YouTube are also filtered based on the level you set in the user profile for the browser.
Here’s an example of what is returned in the YouTube results when searching for the term ‘sex.’ Notice the little ‘Blocked by Mobicip’ message? Love that!
For more detailed instructions, here’s a tutorial for filtering YouTube content with Mobicip:
How To Setup Mobicip To Filter YouTube On The iPhone & iPod touch
As stated earlier, no filtering software is 100% foolproof and not a replacement for keeping a careful eye on what your kids are dong online. However, the reality is that you cannot be constantly looking over their shoulders, so putting some controls in place can be helpful (and keep you sane). Understand, however, that if anyone sits in front of the computer with the intention of finding inappropriate content, they will likely be able to do it. In my mind, controls like Mobicip Safe Browser can make it less likely for kids to “stumble onto” inappropriate things, but not impossible.
So far, I’ve been happy with the results of my experiment with this tool. Relatively speaking, my kids still have limited internet usage, and the free option is meeting my needs at this time. I know this is likely to change in the future, so I’ll keep you posted when I start experimenting with the premium options.
If you have found any safe browsing software that you are happy with, kindly share your experience with it. I’d love to hear about it!