Using parental controls
Messing with your your computer’s hosts files might seem a bit frightening, but, thankfully, there are other ways to block certain websites from your kids. Both Windows and MacOS have built-in parental controls that you can use, and we’ve outlined a host of more capable software here.
Using parental controls in Windows 10
If you want to block websites from your child in Windows 10, you must first set up a child account. To do so, go to your Settings and click Accounts. Next, click on the Family & other people tab and click the button labeled Add a family member.
Click Add a child and enter the required information to set up your child’s profile. Once your child has a profile, you can manage parental controls via your Microsoft account page.
Once there, select the Web browsing tab and check the box labeled Only see websites on the allowed list. Here, you will see sections for Always allow these and Always block these. Enter URLs for any sites you want to block in the appropriate section, and click the Block button to the right.
Using parental controls in MacOS
Windows isn’t the only operating system that allows you to monitor your child’s activities online. You can use the Parental Controls feature in MacOS to block websites, which is particularly helpful if you want to keep your kids off of certain websites, without restricting the access of other users.
To do so, open System Preferences and click the button labeled Parental Controls.
Your Mac will ask if you want to Create a new profile with parental controls, or add them to your current profile. Assuming you want to block websites for when your kids use the computer — while keeping them open for you — select Create a new user account with parental controls.
If your current profile is password-protected, you will need to enter your password. Once you’ve created the profile, select it in Parental Controls and click the Web tab.
If you’re feeling particularly draconian, you can also allow access to only specific websites. If not, simply click the Customize button.
In the resulting pop-up window, there will be a section to add websites that are always allowed, and a lower section for websites that are never allowed.
To add a website that you want to block, click the addition sign under the Never allow heading, and enter the address of the site you want to block. Now, enter as many websites as you want to block, one per line. When you’re finished, click OK in the bottom-right corner.
Using your router settings
Blocking all users, at all times, on all browsers can be a little much. Fortunately, your router doesn’t require any external software and is another fantastic tool that will grant you greater control over the blocking process. Although we cannot guarantee your router is capable of blocking specified websites, most routers are equipped with some sort of parental controls for restricting website access completely, during certain days of the week, or even during defined hours.
Begin by opening your router’s web interface. Most routers can be accessed by entering “192.168.1.1” in your browser’s address bar and typing in a username and password. The defaults do vary from router to router, however, so be sure to check the instructional manual included with your router for the default IP address, username, and password. If unavailable, try looking up the router’s defaults at routerpasswords.com, or cirt.net.
Next, navigate to the router security panel or tab that features the blocking controls. The security options are typical housed under something like “Access Restrictions” or “Content Filtering.”
Once you’ve discovered the correct location, enter the websites you want to block and any other content restrictions you want to put in place. Save and apply the new settings when finished.
Updated 5-8-2017 by Will Nicol: Added parental control options for Windows 10 and MacOS.