An approach to parental control for Firefox

Every day more and more parents face the need to make the decision on whether allow their children to access the internet and its extensive resources to raise better informed and connected persons or surrender to equally extensive and invasive contents that just don’t fit their parenting ways and keep them away of a computer. And this is not limited to porn content but also any political, religious, military, hatred and many other kinds of contents parents may find inappropriate for their children.

FoxFilter, developed by Dywayne Johnson (Inspired Effect) adds a content filtering layer to Firefox that will keep away a large amount of unwanted content. You start by defining a list of keywords you want to filter out. These words will be checked in every page’s title, keywords, description and body and even the URL, which is important to prevent performing web searches for the keywords, a somewhat redundant and welcome added protection.

You can define certain sites to be displayed even when the keywords are found if you find these safe to visit and can customize what to look in for the keywords (title, description , URL, body).

FoxFilterAccess to FoxFilter preferences, is obviously password protected (default password foxfilter, don’ t forget to change it) and a short message in the status bar shows if it is enabled. Unfortunately, the extension can be easily disabled from the Add-ons manager, so I recommend using FoxFilter in combination with Public Fox, another great extension I recently reviewed, that allow to selectively block certain configuration areas including the Add-ons manager.

Both of them however can be turned off if Firefox is started in safe mode, a somewhat trivial procedure. Parents may want to at least delete the shortcut from the Windows Start menu.

Some enhancements I’d like to see: White list mode to limit access to a list of 20 or so known-good web sites. Web addresses black list, this will help with deep linked content. In the cosmetic side, the preferences window looked too wide in my tests for no apparent reason. And I would like to see the status bar message reduced to an icon.

All in all, a very recommended extension, specially for parents who want to protect their children from casual access to unwanted content. However, determined kids should have not much trouble getting around this first line parental control.

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12 thoughts on “An approach to parental control for Firefox”

  1. I can not access the foxfilter option-lost the password. Is there a way to reset? I installed uninstalled the firefox program that did not work either.

  2. Hi I currently woke up today with a problem with Firefox Filter. For some reason my password was changed so I can’t get into the preference’s and all of my Bookmark’d sites are gone too. I’ve tried to uninstall the firefox and than re-install yet the uninstaller would’nt move or budge if i try to uninstall it. I have no idea what’s going on. If anyone can hlp please do =(. Thanks

  3. I installed foxfilter but it isn’t working. I can’t save new words in the list of forbidden words. Since those words are all in English and that my family know other languages, it is still possible to go on adult websites.

  4. The setup process is confusing at best. I don’t understand what they are asking for. In the end I uninstalled “Glubble” and started looking for other options. I don’t understand why the creators can’t write simple installation instructions instead of cutesy words that don’t make any sense.

  5. And what if the child installs Opera, Safari, Chrome or IE to bypass Mozilla Firefox’s parental control?

  6. easy, Paul Gessos,
    just make manager allow only certain sites seen with the password access. How is that for free internet access! Git ’em to work! Heheh.

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