Can You Block Harmful Websites on Android Phones and Tablets?
That’s the question concerned parents are asking as their children spend more and more time online. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) [*]:
“Kids aged 11–14 spend nearly 9 hours a day using digital devices, on average.”
The more time young people spend online, the more they expose themselves to a wide range of risks, including:
- Explicit and violent content. More than half of 11-16 year-olds have encountered explicit content online [*].
- Harmful malware and viruses. Researchers have found pornographic malware in popular children’s games in the Google Play store [*].
- Excessive screen time issues. Too much time online can lead to sleeping issues, or even anxiety and depression [*].
If you’re concerned about your children’s safety online, you may want to consider blocking or restricting certain content on their Android devices.
In this guide, we’ll explain how Android content blockers work, what you can block, and the best options for blocking content on your child’s Android phone or tablet.
Why Block Websites on Android? What Content Can You Block?
One of the ways parents can gain control over their children’s online activities is by restricting access to certain websites. There are multiple reasons why parents might want to block their children’s mobile device use:
- Control the amount of time spent online. Some website blockers allow parents to limit the amount of time children spend online. This lets parents enforce strict rules about their kids’ internet usage.
- Block inappropriate websites. Parents can restrict adult websites and violent content on their children’s devices, making it much harder for kids to access that content.
- Protect your family against malware. Malware can easily spread from your child’s device to the entire family network. A strong antivirus app can prevent malicious downloads from opening.
- Reduce your child’s digital footprint. Oversharing content about young people can expose them to risks from bullies and predators. Parents can use website blockers to reduce the amount of data available about their children online and on social media.
7 Ways To Block Websites on Android Phones and Tablets
- Aura’s award-winning parental controls app
- Mobile browsers with built-in content restrictions
- Google Family Link
- Third-party browser extensions
- Router-level restrictions
- Set up a firewall
When it comes to parental controls, you want an option that is easy to use and hard for your children to bypass.
Here are seven options you might want to consider when it comes to content restrictions or site blocking:
1. Aura’s award-winning parental controls app
Aura offers an award-winning family safety and parental control app that helps you protect your children from explicit content, online threats, and even identity theft.
Aura’s parental controls work across Android devices to block harmful content and give you control and insight into how your kids are using their devices.
With Aura, you can:
- Monitor content and block sites on Android (and other devices). Aura’s content and website filters give you insights into what sites and apps your kids are using and lets you block or filter inappropriate content.
- Set time limits on specific apps and websites. Aura also lets you easily configure and set daily time limits on specific apps so that your kids aren’t getting distracted by their devices (including streaming apps like YouTube and Disney+).
- Pause the Internet®. With Aura, you can instantly “pause” the internet on your childrens’ devices (for example, when they should be doing homework or other tasks).
- Protect your family against viruses and online scammers. Aura also includes powerful antivirus software, Safe Browsing tools, and a military-grade virtual private network (VPN) to protect your devices against hackers and malware.
The bottom line: Aura is one of the best options for all-in-one family safety, and includes Android parental controls along with protection against viruses, hacking, and other online threats.
Unlike other website blockers that only work for specific browsers, Aura can block content or entire apps that could be harmful to your child.
With Aura, you won’t have to worry about complicated settings apps or accidentally adding security vulnerabilities to your devices.
Plus, Aura works across the full range of Android and iOS devices (as well as Windows and Mac desktops). This includes popular Samsung and LG mobile phones, as well as Apple iPhones and iPads.
2. Mobile browsers with built-in content restrictions
The most popular Android web browsers – like Google Chrome and Firefox – don’t offer built-in website blocking features. However, some family-friendly browsers do. For instance, Microsoft Edge allows parents to block websites on children’s accounts.
There are two ways to enable parental controls in Microsoft Edge:
First, you can use “Browse in Kids Mode.”
Open your profile switcher and choose “Browse in Kids Mode.” This will give you the option to choose the age range of your child and limit what content they can find or view. To leave “Kids Mode,” you’ll need to enter your device password or passcode.
Next, you can use Family accounts to restrict content.
First, you’ll need to create a Microsoft account and link your child’s account to it.
Then, access your account on a desktop computer, and click on “Family.” Select “Add a Family Member,” and specify that the account is for your child.
Once your child’s account is linked, go back to your Family settings and navigate to “Content Restrictions” and then “Web browsing.” This is where you can block your child from accessing certain websites.
As long as your child uses Edge as their web browser (and is logged in to their child account), Microsoft will block the websites you listed.
The bottom line: Family-friendly browsers can block harmful content, but the restrictions are easy to bypass.
For example, if kids know your device’s password, they can get out of “Browse in Kids Mode.” In other cases, kids can bypass the restrictions simply by downloading and using a different browser.
3. Google Family Link
Google Family Link is an app that allows parents to set time limits, content restrictions, and even track their child’s location. It works on Android devices as well as Google Chromebooks.
To use Google Family Link, you’ll need to download the Family Link app on both your device and your child’s device. You’ll also have to create a Google account for your child.
Family Link provides three basic settings for blocking websites on Android devices:
- Approve all sites. This option does not block any websites. It allows you to supervise your child’s web usage and history, but does not restrict any content online.
- Try to block explicit sites. This option tells Google to try to filter out web content that is explicit or violent. You can also approve or restrict specific websites as well.
- Manually whitelist websites. This restricts every website you haven’t specifically approved. Your child will have to request your permission before accessing any unapproved websites.
Google Family Link works on any device signed in to your child’s Google account. However, its functionality is limited on third-party web browsers and other devices. If your child has access to someone else’s device, they can use it to bypass Google Family Link restrictions.
The bottom line: Google Family Link can block explicit content effectively, but only if your child remains signed in to their Google account.
4. Third-party browser extensions (Blocksite, Leechblock, etc.)
Some web browsers (such as Firefox) provide parental controls through third-party extensions. These tools allow you to block certain web pages on your child’s Android devices.
Here are a few of the more popular third-party website blockers:
Blocksite: The Blocksite app works across multiple browsers to block sites based on category or keyword. However, Blocksite was designed for users who want to improve their productivity (by avoiding distracting websites) — not as a parental controls tool.
Leechblock: This browser extension is another simple way to block sites for a specific duration or during moments of the day. Again, Leechblock was designed for productivity-minded users, so it doesn’t include parent-specific features.
Firefox offers hundreds of different website-blocking extensions and add-ons to choose from. You can browse Firefox’s selection of add-ons to find the one that works for you.
The bottom line: Third-party extensions only protect against adult content accessed in the browser. They don’t protect against harmful notifications or pop-ups in games.
Most extensions will also ask you to specify which websites you want blocked. Like other browser-based solutions, they won’t block websites accessed on other browsers, apps, or devices.
5. Set router-level restrictions
Many home Wi-Fi routers can block websites, limit screen time, and supervise certain user’s connections. To access these features, you’ll have to connect to your router’s control panel (either online or by using the router’s mobile app).
Most home Wi-Fi routers use the same default IP address. You can usually access your router by typing “192.168.1.1” into your browser while connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
Here’s how to set router-level content restrictions:
- First, access your router’s control panel and look for the “Security” or “Parental Settings” app or page.
- Then, add specific website URLs (that you want blocked) to your blocked list.
- You may also be able to schedule specific devices and set time limits here.
Keep in mind that router-level restrictions won’t work outside of your home network. Android users with a paid data plan can also bypass these restrictions by switching off Wi-Fi or by accessing blocked websites away from home.
The bottom line: Router-level restrictions may offer useful blocking and time limit features, but they aren’t very user-friendly and only work at home.
6. Use OpenDNS
OpenDNS is a free domain service that lets you set up customized web filters and categories. To do this, you need to route web traffic from the Android device to OpenDNS servers, which will filter the results according to your specifications.
Your Android device allows you to change the DNS address that it uses to access the internet through Wi-Fi. However, it will not allow you to change your wireless network provider’s DNS settings.
This means that without rooting your device to remove your wireless carrier’s protections, you can’t use OpenDNS to block mobile data traffic — only sites accessed over Wi-Fi.
Here’s how to set up OpenDNS on your Android device:
- Find your Android device’s Wi-Fi menu.
- Press on the Wi-Fi network that you’re connected to for three seconds.
- Select “Modify Network” on the menu that opens.
- Look for “DNS 1” and “DNS 2” settings. You may have to open an “Advanced” menu to view them.
- Add 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 to the fields next to “DNS 1” and “DNS 2.”
- Save your settings.
This change tells the device to route all Wi-Fi traffic through OpenDNS’s FamilyShield servers. These servers will automatically block explicit and sexual content. If you want to block other websites, you’ll have to sign up for an OpenDNS account first.
The bottom line: OpenDNS offers strong protection from explicit websites, but only on Wi-Fi. Setting up custom filters can be complicated.
7. Set up a firewall
Firewall apps can help you to block websites on Android devices by giving you control over outgoing network connections.
This means that you can choose which apps can access websites on your Android devices. If your device has multiple browsers, you can restrict one browser’s activity without impacting the other.
There are two broad categories of firewall apps:
- Rooted firewall apps require you to root your phone, removing some of its built-in protections.
- Unrooted firewall apps work like normal apps and don’t require rooting.
Mobile wireless carriers generally don’t allow users to block web connections made on wireless data connections on unrooted devices.
For this reason, some Android users prefer to root their devices and force them to block unwanted websites on both Wi-Fi and cellular data. If you plan on using a firewall website blocker app, use an unrooted one like NoRoot Firewall.
The bottom line: Firewalls are versatile, but getting the strongest protection requires rooting your device. This comes with additional risks.
Is It Safe To Root Your Android Devices?
Some options for blocking explicit websites on Android devices require root-level access. This means bypassing the phone’s built-in security system, which restricts the types of apps you can install.
This makes it easier to block unwanted websites on your device — or even block a device from accessing its wireless data plan. However, rooting an Android device comes with severe cybersecurity risks, including:
- It voids your warranty. Manufacturers build security systems into their devices for a reason. If you disable those systems, you void the device’s warranty. The manufacturer may not offer you any support if the device breaks or malfunctions.
- Performance may be unreliable. App developers don’t generally design apps to work with rooted Android devices. Your device may run into errors causing it to freeze and restart, or it could get stuck in a boot loop without warning [*].
- Rooted devices are vulnerable to malware. When you give yourself root-level access, you allow the apps you install to disable key security settings on your device. Without the manufacturer’s built-in security settings, your device is much more prone to malware infection.
- Battery life may suffer. Some of the built-in security settings included on your device focus on battery management. Rooted devices can’t prevent apps from draining the battery, which often leads to dramatically reduced battery life.
In the end, rooting your device can add more security risks than benefits. If you want control over how your children use their devices, try Aura’s award-winning parental controls app instead.
The Bottom Line: Keep Your Family Safe Online
Children and teenagers increasingly rely on the internet for every aspect of their social lives. But increased screen time comes with risks that every parent wants to avoid.
Parental supervision isn’t just about controlling what young people see online. It’s also about mobile security.
With Aura, you get a full suite of parental controls and digital security tools that protect your children from harmful third-party app downloads and malware.
Plus, Aura keeps your entire family safe from online threats — such as identity theft, hacking, and financial fraud. And if the worst should happen, Aura covers your family for up to $5 million in eligible losses due to identity theft.