Eliminating Ads in Free games your kids play – How-to guide

Ads, Ads, Ads

Don’t you hate the fact that most of the games available in App store these days go for the Free with Ads approach? Lately, I noticed in some games that there is not even an option anymore to pay to get Ads removed. Looks like they earn more with Ads than what they earned with us paying for ad removal.

Great for the developers, very bad for our kids who are exposed to this non-sense and are not able to properly process and ignore it. The ads we are seeing are not meant for kids to see. You probably noticed your kids are clicking on them, thinking it’s part of the game. And it is definitely not what you wanted them to see while they play that great logic or painting game, right?

Installing network wide Ad blocker is a must these days

Well, there is a way to fight back. As you probably know Ad blockers have become very popular on PCs in the last few years and more then 20% of young(er) users use them. If you are not one of them, I highly recommend you to use Firefox browser with uBlock Origin extension. The internet will look normal again!

But the problem is that most of our kids play games on ipad or a phone, meaning that such browser blockers have no effect, the ads pop up during the game and cannot be avoided. Or that is what I thought until I looked into this matter. As it turns out there is a way to set up a network wide Ad blocker on your home router, that works as a barrier for all the devices connected to your wifi network. It’s called “pihole”. And it works!

Pi-hole really works (most of the time)

Pi-hole is a Linux network-level advertisement and Internet tracker blocking application which acts as a DNS sinkhole. It means that it redirects ad traffic request from a certain game or application into a separate local device that returns a fake response so the game shows nothing instead of an ad.

Pi-hole has the ability to block traditional website advertisements as well as advertisements in unconventional places, such as smart TVs and mobile operating system advertisements.

It sounds complicated, and it actually is for anyone not keen on computer programming and network setup. It requires a user to setup a small device with specialized pi-hole software installed, running 24/7, and plugged into the router. It also requires a user to change internet settings in the router and that can cause the internet to stop working altogether.

Still, I did it and I am super proud of it. My kids can play games uninterrupted and all that spam is filtered out before their little eyes can see it.

These days you can buy a preinstalled pi-hole box, so you don’t need to mess with Linux setup and hardware. It costs around 100$ and it saves you a lot of initial work. I got one of those. Pi-hole from PiSupply.

If you get one of these little boxes you are spared of initial setup grind and all you need to do is to plug the device into your router, configure it with a few lines of text and enter your router setting to use it as DNS server instead of external one (that brings you all the ads). The PiSupply team provides detailed installation process that helped me set it up with ease. Well, once I figured out I have to connect it to my secondary internet router (Google Wifi) and not the one I got from the internet provider.

Setup instructions (so you can see what kind of stuff you will need to do)

Highly recommended for any concerned parents who hate in-game Ads so much that they are willing to do something about it.

This video shows the installation process nicely.

+++Disclaimer+++
Not all ads are filtered out of the box, you will need to update the lists periodically and handle some whitelist/blacklist settings in the pi-hole administration page. Despite doing that several ads come through as those are served as content, Facebook is impossible to filter out.


But… Do not panic it’s not that hard. And it’s worth it.

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