Articles on: Android

How to install parental controls for Android

It’s easy with Safe Surfer to block harmful online content on an Android mobile device. On your first protection installation, it will take around 20 minutes for the full installation, or 30 minutes for the entire guide.

Step 1: Install protection

We show installation on a Samsung device (running Android 14, released in 2023), although the steps will be very similar if you are installing on a different kind of device. This guide is designed for customers who already have a Safe Surfer account, but you can still follow along if you’re using just the Android app by itself—simply skip the parts regarding the online dashboard. Some optional features may not be available on budget devices that run Android Go edition.

Visit the Safe Surfer dashboard on a personal computer and log in to your account. Click the Devices menu on the left-hand sidebar. Click the “+ New Device” button.

Click “Another PC, laptop, or smartphone”.

Click Android.

Click “Get the app”.

On the next section, you'll see a QR code to be scanned within the Safe Surfer app. We’ll use this later on.

On the device to be protected, tap the Play Store app. If you can’t see it, swipe from the middle of the screen to the top to show the app drawer, then search for Play Store.

In the Play Store app, tap the search bar.

Search for “safe surfer”, then tap the first result.

Tap the Install button found next to the Safe Surfer app listing.

Tap the Open button once the app has finished downloading.

Tap the “I agree” checkbox to acknowledge the presented information, then tap the “Get started” button.

Enter a name for this device, then tap the Next button.

If you prepared the QR code on the Safe Surfer dashboard earlier, tap the Scan option to scan with the device’s camera. Otherwise, you can either create an account or sign in with your username and password.

Back on your personal computer, once you’ve scanned the QR code, the Safe Surfer dashboard will report that the device has been added to your account. Click the “Block sites” link.

Click the switches to either block or unblock categories—grey means not blocked, and red means blocked. Once you’re done, click the Save button at the upper-right corner. You might need to scroll to the top of the list for the Save button to appear.

Back on the device being protected, tap the Finish button.

If the app asks, set a PIN and tap the Confirm button.

Tap the "Get protected" button found under the "Internet filtering" section.

Tap the OK button on the "Connection request" prompt.

Tap the Allow button to let the Safe Surfer app send notifications on this device.

If you set a PIN earlier, enter your PIN, then tap the OK button.

Enable permanent mode

Most Android devices support a feature called private DNS. This enables us to provide you with a better protection experience. You can turn this off within the app later if you need to uninstall protection. If this is an old device that doesn't support Android 9 or newer, you won’t see an option to enable permanent mode—if this is the case, you can skip ahead to step 2. Otherwise, tap the "Permanent mode" button.

Swipe to the bottom of the instructions, then tap the “Copy link and go to Settings app” button.

When you are taken to the device’s Settings app, tap the search icon (or search bar).

Search for “private dns”, then tap the Private DNS menu result.

Tap the Private DNS menu.

Inside the Private DNS menu, tap the “Private DNS provider hostname” option. Long tap the textbox to make the context menu appear, then tap the Paste option to insert the link. Tap the Save option.

A successful installation should look as shown below, with the protection link appearing under the Private DNS menu title. Once you have done this, tap the back button at the bottom of the screen several times to return to the Safe Surfer app.

Great work, we’ve finished the first step of installation.

Step 2: Stop uninstallation

Tap the Enable button found under the "Prevent uninstall" section.

If you haven’t set a PIN yet, you can do so by tapping the Set PIN button. Otherwise, continue by tapping the "Stop uninstallation" button.

Tap the Activate option.

Tap the Enable button.

Tap the OK button to acknowledge the prompt that comes up.

Tap the “Installed apps” menu.

On Android devices other than Samsung, the Safe Surfer app might be listed under "Downloaded services".

Tap the listing for Safe Surfer.

Tap the switch found next to “Off”. Ignore the "Safe Surfer shortcut" switch.

Tap the Allow option.

The Safe Surfer accessibility service is now active. Tap the back button at the bottom of the screen several times to return to the Safe Surfer app.

Tap the Enable button found under the "App blocking" section.

Tap the Agree button to acknowledge the prompt that comes up.

Verify the protection installation by visiting inside a web browser app, such as Chrome. This is a safe website for testing to see if pornographic websites are being blocked. If it's not blocked, review the previous steps.

Step 3: Enable additional features (optional)

This step shows you how to use additional features available inside the Safe Surfer app.

Social media monitoring

The first optional feature is social media monitoring. Tap the Enable button found under the "Social media monitoring" section.

Tap the switch for the Safe Surfer app listing.

Tap the Allow option.

The required device permissions have been provided. Tap the back button at the bottom of the screen several times to return to the Safe Surfer app.

If you would like to customise the social media monitoring detection features, tap the Edit button.

From this menu you can either enable or disable keyword categories. You can also set custom keywords for detection. Once you're done, go back to the Safe Surfer app home menu.

Nudity detection

The second optional feature is nudity detection.

This is an experimental feature, which can be useful for younger teenagers during short social media sessions. It's good to keep in mind that this feature needs to be manually started again from the Safe Surfer PIN screen if the phone is restarted. Safe Surfer will still block hundreds of thousands of porn websites with the normal protection experience.

Tap the Enable button found under the "Nudity detection" section.

Tap the switch for the Safe Surfer app listing.

The required device permissions have been provided. Tap the back button at the bottom of the screen several times to return to the Safe Surfer app.

Tap the Download button. This retrieves a copy of what’s called our “machine learning model”, a safe file that contains computer information used to identify inappropriate content.

Tap the Start button once the download has finished.

Tap the “Start now” button. We use the device's screen recording feature to process the contents of the screen to detect inappropriate content—this takes place strictly on the device itself. The only data that will ever leave the device are encrypted, blurred screenshots of potentially inappropriate content sent directly to your account, which only you can review.

If the device user uses either the Chrome or Firefox web browser apps, you might want to change a specific setting for each browser app to let the nudity detection feature work correctly in Incognito (or private browsing) mode. If so, tap “Incognito mode” to view a guide on how to do this. You might like to close the tab for the guide once you’ve made the changes.

The normal protection experience will still work in Incognito (or private browsing) mode, even if you don't change these settings or use this feature.

Step 4: Disable permanent notification (optional)

Google requires the Safe Surfer app to have a permanent notification enabled by default on the notification bar at the top of the screen. If you wish, you can hide this.

If this is a Samsung device running One UI 6.1 or newer (you can find this information in the Settings app > About phone/tablet > Software information > One UI version), you will first need to navigate to the Settings app > Notifications > Advanced settings. Inside this menu, turn on the switch found next to "Manage notification categories for each app". You can then proceed with the following instructions.

Swipe down from the top of the screen.

Long tap the Safe Surfer notification.

Tap the Settings button.

Tap the "Notification categories" menu.

Enter your PIN, then tap the OK button. Repeat the last few taps to get back to the "Notification categories" menu.

Tap the Services switch to turn it off. Ignore the "App blocking" switch.

You have now disabled the permanent notification. Tap the home button at the bottom of the screen.

Step 5: Enable Play Store parental controls

Play Store parental controls help hide Play Store content listings that contain sexually suggestive and/or sexually explicit content.

Apps already installed that are affected by these settings will not be hidden. These apps will also continue to receive updates from the Play Store.

Tap the Play Store app.

Tap the profile icon at the upper-right corner.

Tap the Settings menu.

Tap the Family section, then tap the “Parental controls” menu.

Tap the switch found next to “Parental controls are off”.

Set a PIN, then tap the OK option.

Tap the “Apps & games” category.

Set this to either 7+ or 12+, then tap the Save button. In North & South America, the equivalent for these are E10+ (Everyone 10+) and T (Teen). For reference, social media apps are typically rated 12+.

Depending on your region, you might have parental controls available for the following categories:


Set these to an appropriate level if they are available.

Protection complete

Great work! This device is now fully protected. To start monitoring protected devices, visit our easy-to-use online dashboard.

If you have any other Android devices you would like to protect, simply start again from the top of the guide. If you would like to protect a different kind of device, visit our Guides page.

Updated on: 13/04/2024

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