Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
While knowing how to block a website on your computer is helpful, it’s only part of the equation because you likely have a smartphone, too. Whether you want to filter out explicit content on your child’s device or block a time-wasting website from your own, blocking websites is a handy skill to have.
If you’ve been wondering how to block websites on Android, we’ll show you what you need to know.
A Note About Blocking Websites on Android
Before we start, it’s important to note that there’s no perfect solution to block websites on Android. Your child may be able to bypass the parental controls you set up, depending on the method.
The most reliable way to block a website on Android is by modifying the hosts file. However, this is only possible on a rooted device, which is much more work than most people probably want to go through. So we won’t cover that method.
We’ll discuss each solution’s weak points so you know what to expect.
How to Block Websites on Android Using BlockSite
Unfortunately, there’s no built-in way to block websites in Chrome on Android. Since Android’s version of Chrome doesn’t offer extensions, you can’t even turn to third-party add-ons to do the job.
While you can block sites using add-ons in Firefox, that’s not a great solution because it only blocks them in one browser. Your child could easily open another browser (or install a new one from Google Play) to get around the blockage.
Instead, you can look at a free app called BlockSite. The service is also available on desktop, where it works in a similar way as the mobile offering.
After installing the app, you’ll need to grant it accessibility permission to properly block sites. To block a website, tap the Plus button on the main screen. Simply enter a web address and tap the check mark in the top-right to save it. Now when you try to visit that website in any browser, you’ll find it blocked.
More BlockSite Features
BlockSite allows you to go a bit further. In addition to blocking websites, you can also block apps on your device. This is handy if you want to hand your phone to a child without worrying that they’ll access sensitive information.
The app also allows you to apply blocks only at specific times. Tap the Clock icon above the list of apps and you can choose the start and end times to set the block. It also lets you set what days of the week the schedule applies to.
Tap the Adult Block tab at the bottom of the screen and you can block access to all adult sites with just a tap. Of course, nothing is perfect, but this lets you knock out the worst offenders in one go.
Open the three-dot Menu in the top-right and open the Settings for two useful utilities. If you use BlockSite on your computer, you can use the Sync BlockSite option to sync your blocklist. More importantly, use the Password Protection feature to keep children from disabling the blocks. You can set up a PIN or pattern to secure the app and prevent changes to your blocked sites and apps.
With a passcode protecting the app, adult sites blocked, and any other sites and apps you want to restrict added, BlockSite is the best way to block websites on Android. It works on all Wi-Fi or mobile networks, isn’t easy to disable, and is simple to set up.
However, it does have one major downside: your child can easily uninstall the app, removing all blocked website restrictions. You can use an app like AppLock to prevent access to the uninstall option, but even this isn’t perfect, as you can uninstall apps from many locations around Android. Instead, setting up Google Family Link, which lets you hide certain apps, may be a better option.
How to Block Websites on Wi-Fi Using DNS Filtering
If you want to block as many dangerous, explicit, and otherwise harmful websites as possible with relatively little effort, you can set up DNS filtering. This allows you to filter whole categories of websites on your whole network or specific device.
OpenDNS offers an easy way to do this. You can use the preconfigured Family Shield plan to block adult content on any Android device, or your entire network.
To apply Family Shield filtering on an Android device, head to Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi. Tap the network name you want to apply filtering to, then hit the Pencil icon to make changes.
In the resulting window, expand Advanced options and scroll down. Change IP settings from DHCP to Static. Then in the DNS 1 and DNS 2 fields, enter 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206 respectively. Save your settings. Once you’re done, visit internetbadguys.com to make sure everything is set up correctly.
For more control, the company also offers a free Home plan. This requires that you sign up for an account, but allows you to customize what kinds of websites you want to filter on your network. The exact instructions for setting up OpenDNS in this way depend on your router. See OpenDNS’s router configuration page for help with yours.
Filtering on Android vs. Router
While it’s easy to set up, we don’t recommend applying DNS filtering directly on your Android device. The settings are per-network, so you’ll need to repeat this for every Wi-Fi network you connect to. Additionally, a tech-savvy child can easily erase these DNS settings to remove the filtering.
Because of this, we recommend setting up OpenDNS on your router instead. Doing so will apply its filtering to every device on your network instead of just one. Plus, your children won’t be easily able to change the settings, since they’re locked behind a password. With your account password, you can override a blocked site if needed.
However, even with DNS filtering applied on your home router, your kids can still bypass the filtering by connecting to mobile data instead. This isn’t a problem with Wi-Fi only tablets, but your protections won’t apply on other Wi-Fi networks either.
Other Ways to Block Websites on Android?
Despite many other website-blocking solutions on Android, most of them are inferior or duplicates of the above. As we mentioned, there’s not much point installing any website blocking browser extensions, since they only applies to one browser.
You can use an app like NetGuard as a firewall, but this is overly complicated for blocking a few websites. For the average user, BlockSite is simpler to use. Also, because it acts as a VPN, you can’t use a normal VPN alongside it.
Many Android security apps also offer a website blocking feature. However, to use these features, you need to install the antivirus app, which are often bloated and bog your device down with a bunch of features you don’t need. This is a heavy-handed solution that, again, BlockSite does better.
Because of this, for maximum protection for your kids, we recommend using BlockSite on each device you want to protect, paired with OpenDNS on your home network. That way, even if they uninstall BlockSite, OpenDNS acts as a backup at home since they can’t uninstall it. Consider using AppLock or Google Family Link if you’re concerned about your child removing BlockSite.
Conversely, if you just want to block websites for your own use, some of it will come down to discipline to avoid circumventing your own boundaries. Follow our tips to block time-wasting websites for more ideas.
Knowing How to Block Websites Is Handy
We’ve taken a look at how to block websites on Android with a few methods. As we mentioned at the start, nothing is 100% foolproof. While BlockSite and DNS filtering can help you weed out a lot of harmful material from your kids’ devices, make sure you’re active in their device usage too. There’s no substitute for parental involvement.
For additional solutions, review our list of the best parental control apps for Android. And if you’re interested in other parental control apps for tablets, computers, and phones, consult our complete guide to parental controls.