Why Safe Browsers Don’t Work

Today’s topic is safe browsers. The Internet has gone from a curiosity to a necessity in a dramatically short period of time. When combined with the surge in mobile devices like smartphones, tablet computers, and others, the technology has become a fixture of the modern way of life. With so much access, though, it’s important for parents to do their best to make sure their kids stay safe. Parents need to ensure that they are not only regulating time spent online, as well as cultivating open communication, and making sure they’re on the same page their kids and teenagers are.child-night-surfing

One of the first steps many parents take when it comes to staying safe on the Internet is to install a safe browser on mobile devices their children use. While you might feel secure because you installed Google Chrome, rated the safest browser by Tip Top Security, it’s important to remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Safe browsers can be a smart tool for certain children, and they can go a long way toward maintaining security both at home and on mobile devices.

 

Problem One: They only work if you’re actually using a web browser

While a web browser is the main way one accesses the Internet on a laptop or a desktop, smart mobile devices like Apple iPhones, iPads, and the Samsung Galaxy, tend to focus more on apps. These simple, bite-size programs are easy to download, simple to use, and a smart phone can hold dozens or hundreds of them without any real strain. As long as someone is using apps to access the Internet, it doesn’t really matter how safe the browser is because the browser isn’t what’s being used. Our research points to the fact that over 85% of internet access by children on mobile devices is done via an app and not a browser.

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Think about your own kids and what they do on their smartphones and tablets. Do they sit there on Safari typing away in the little URL link (that’s so 90’s 😉 )or are they using Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, and Twitter? They are using apps!

Problem Two: “Safe Browsers” are easily bypassed

There are hundreds of browsers in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store (check out our new parental control app in the Google Play Store). Some are plainly good alternatives to Safari like Firefox and Google Chrome. However what most parents don’t know is that hidden in the App Store, are hundreds of browsers that are masked in other apps like fake calculators, image programs, and folder enhancers. Just search for “hidden browsers” in the Hidden Browsers - Safe Browser - Parental Controls Android and Apple - NetsanityApp Store to get a sense of options. So while you may block Safari with Apple’s restrictions and install your favorite safe browser, included with many mobile parental control companies, keep in mind that in the 15% of the time kids want to access browser-based content, they will simply use another browser to do that.

Most mobile parental control companies with apps, use a safe browser component to their content filtering. While the browsers themselves do a good job of filtering, as we stated, how does that help when 85%+ of your child’s internet activity does not even use a browser.

The only exception to above would be younger children, under 8 or so. They are not yet able to navigate the settings and will typically do what you show them. Having a safe browser installed on their iPad, for example, should suffice if you restrict what internet-apps are installed.

Keeping safe in the mobile world

If safe browsers aren’t the answer (or at least, are only part of the answer), then how can parents keep their kids safe in the modern world, where mobile devices are both a necessity, as well as potentially dangerous?

Simply restricting access to a phone won’t help, because what’s the point in having a phone if you aren’t allowed to use and customize it to suit your needs? Parents can install safety apps on a smartphone, but it’s important to remember that kids can turn off or remove those apps just as fast as they’re put on. Both of these “solutions” are common, but they’re actually just band-aids.

A day will come when kids have to make their own technology decisions, and they need to be armed with solid information, as well as experience in handling their own devices. Simply deciding that your kids aren’t old enough to make technology decisions means they won’t be ready when that time rolls around.

Solutions for parents

Well, the first part of the solution is open communication with your kids. Being trusted with a mobile device is a symbol of responsibility, and if they understand that they’re less likely to abuse it. I always encourage families to make sure that they keep their children safe and instill balance on their mobile devices.

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Secondly, take a look at a service that does not use safe browser apps, which can easily be deleted by your children.  I’m partial to Netsanity. They do not use any safe browsers at all, since their content filtering is done in their cloud. They have a 14-day free trial so its worth checking out.

Netsanity’s Appblocker can be used to block apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and others, on demand, if you find that your child is not old enough to use them yet, the app is inappropriate, or if you just feel that your child or even your teen is not ready for the responsibility associated with certain apps. What is cool about this feature is that it works in the background so even if the child has the app installed, Netsanity will block internet access to that app and the parent can do it remotely!250 X 250-14

Recently, Netsanity introduced another feature to try to help parents that need to regulate apps. It’s called  Hideapps which allows parents to remotely and instantly control which 3rd party apps are visible on your child’s device based on Apple age ratings, so that you don’t have to worry about every new app that comes out.

Parents Count

Finally, always keep in mind that a parents opinion and example is often the strongest contributor to your child’s decision-making process, even when not apparent to you! Honest conversations about staying safe online will do more to keep your child safe than virtually any other action you might take!


Netsanity was made by parents for parents. With easy to use software designed to give control and sanity back to parents, Netsanity enables a safer and healthier mobile experience for kids. See for yourself with a free trial!
Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.


Featuring a full featured parental control suite of tools, Netsanity allows parents to take back control over the mobile devices in their home. Block over 50 apps, manage texting on Samsung, control Internet access, filter out porn and nudity and 20 other premium features are included with a monthly or annual subscription. Try every feature on up to two devices, Apple iOS or Samsung Android, for two weeks completely free and with no credit card required. If our parental controls sound like they could help you get control of your family's mobile devices, then click here to start your free trial - and get some sanity back today!
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