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Benefits of Using Parental Controls on Your Wi-Fi Router

Parenting is tough—just ask anyone raising children in the modern world.

Sure, some conveniences make parenting easier and more manageable, but other aspects of parenting are more challenging nowadays. In particular, navigating the internet and its risks can be difficult in a world where kids are always online.

Many parents find themselves unequipped to handle the 24/7 connectivity of phones, tablets, video game consoles, and more. How are you supposed to practice good digital parenting when there’s always a new device or app to monitor?

That’s why parental controls are at an all-time high in popularity and implementation. More parents are taking these responsibilities seriously and helping their kids avoid the pitfalls of the digital age.

If you’re a parent in 2021, you’ve seen the impact of technology on your family firsthand. It’s time to take back control! 

Below, discover the many benefits of parental controls and network-level software for your Wi-Fi router.

Security and Protection

First and foremost, parental controls provide a layer of defense against the worst elements of the internet. These controls work to secure and protect your children through content filtering, intrusion detection, and activity monitoring as your children study, socialize, and play online.

Content Filtering

While internet access is critical for living in the modern world, a huge portion of online content is not appropriate for kids and teens. Even if you trust your children and set clear boundaries for web use, there are many things you just don’t want them to see.

Filtering content should be a top priority for parents with children of any age, and that means having strong parental controls that effectively block harmful or offensive websites.

It’s no longer sufficient to rely on “safe search” features from search engines.

Younger generations are digital natives, meaning they’re inherently tech-savvy because they have grown up using the internet. Children know how to get around basic web protections, but concerned parents can take matters into their own hands.

The best parental controls allow you to block and filter content by category on social media, search engines, and even the address bar (URL bar) that directly accesses websites.

Intrusion Detection

Cybersecurity threats can come from anywhere, at any time. Now that we have dozens of devices connected to our Wi-Fi networks, you should be aware of any attempted breaches at the digital perimeter of your home – especially when they involve your kids.

In addition to basic parental controls like content filtering, you need to be notified about intrusions of any kind.

Having full security features on top of existing restrictions and filters, ideally on the same centralized software platform, can help protect against breaches whether they occur on specific applications or on a network level. 

It’s rare to find products that include security capabilities in conjunction with parental controls. You can use these criteria to narrow down your search when browsing Wi-Fi routers, mesh networks, and other hardware used as your gateway to the internet.

Monitor Browsing Activity

Knowing where your children hang out online is an important part of digital parenting and the first step towards setting strong boundaries. Monitoring browsing history is the best way to get a full picture of your kids’ online activity.

How you use these features depends on your style of parenting. You can silently monitor browsing habits or explain to your children that you’re keeping an eye on their online activity. Both are effective ways to make positive changes.

How you enforce your rules if certain browsing patterns concern you as a parent is also your decision. In some cases, direct intervention is necessary. Other times, you may want to take a passive role and allow children to learn lessons through experience.

The goal is to teach your kids how to know the good from the bad online, so they can judge for themselves how to use the internet safely and effectively.

Limits and Boundaries

Ask any parent about the amount of time their kids spend online, and they’ll probably say it’s too much! Truthfully, we all spend too much time on our web-connected devices.

Still, it’s important to set boundaries for kids and encourage them to step back from apps, games, and streaming video for at least a portion of the day. 

Enough is Enough

As a parent in the digital age, sometimes a polite request does not accomplish much when trying to get your kid away from their video game consoles or social media apps.

Maybe you’ve tried persuading them to follow set time limits with positive incentives or negative repercussions and punishments. Some parents even have lockboxes for their phones and tablets at a certain time of day!

These tactics to limit screen time are only partially effective. The best way to set boundaries is with a network-level parental controls app that blocks access to the web or certain apps, ensuring that your kids follow your rules.

Homework Time, Family Time, and Bedtime

The hardest part of digital parenting is balance. 

You know that your kids need web access to do homework, connect with peers, and enjoy downtime with TV shows, movies, or games. However, too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad, which is why you need parental controls that can cut web or app access to your child’s account at certain times of the day.

Time for homework? No more online games. Time for dinner? No more social media. Time for bed? The internet is off until morning.

These types of controls can be extremely useful as a parent and help your children establish a healthy relationship with the internet.

Why Router-Level Controls Are Best

There are many parental control software products to choose from, but none of them match the power of network-level controls built into your Wi-Fi hardware. 

Centralized

Rather than going to every device in your house and installing third-party software, network-level parental controls operate from one central location. These network-level controls give you full authority over all tablets, smartphones, game consoles, and computers in your household.

 Prevent your child’s device from accessing specific apps, enable SafeSearch to prevent explicit content from appearing on your tween’s phone, and personalize your app blocking and settings based on the maturity level of each of your children. 

When your controls are centralized, you leave nothing up to chance. The power is in your hands, and nobody can manipulate this family link without administrative access at the network level. Set a unique PIN only you know, and feel safe every time your child opens up their web browser.

A network-level control system won’t put an extra burden on your kids’ devices or network performance. You won’t experience any annoying pop-ups or unnecessary notifications. Set things up as you see fit and get the information you need on demand.

Comprehensive

Only router-level control systems include all of the features we mentioned above in one place.

To achieve the same functionality with third-party software, you may need to install multiple apps on dozens of devices. This is not ideal, especially because new devices come and go all the time.

Router-level parental controls can house a full set of web filters, access scheduling, device usage monitors, and more all at your fingertips. Security and intrusion detection should be included, too.

If you’ve tried application-based parental controls, you know they always fall short in one area or another. When you see what router-level controls can do, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing.

Convenient

The convenience factor of parental controls cannot be underestimated. Any busy parent will agree the less amount of setup and configuration, the better.

That’s another reason why router-level parental controls are superior to third-party apps. Once your Wi-Fi system is installed, you can fire up the control platform and set restrictions or schedules exactly as you wish.

With the simplicity and speed of mesh network technology, you can expand your Wi-Fi reach through satellite units and never have to worry about it conflicting with your parental controls. Because the hardware is proprietary, all your settings will remain intact and fully effective.

Commit to Better Digital Parenting

Parenting was already difficult enough—then, the internet made things way more complicated! Thankfully, a complete parental control system for your Wi-Fi router can help you manage all the risks that our families face in the digital world.

It’s important to cultivate healthy online habits at a young age by looking after your children’s privacy, choosing strong passwords, and being careful with online downloads. However, online safety starts with your home network.

Make sure your router has all the features that you need for maximum insight and control. Do you want location tracking? You’ve got it. Are you looking for an alert every time your child searches for a sensitive site? That’s A-OK. Whether you have a Mac or a PC, your parental controls can provide peace of mind for you and your family. 

The ability to filter websites, restrict app purchases, set screen time limits, or create separate profiles for each member of the family can make a big difference while parenting in the online age. 

The web isn’t going anywhere. You’ve chosen the best internet service provider, your favorite router, and a smartphone that meets your every need. Now, it’s time to take things to the next level.

The right parental controls can help you make responsible parenting decisions and navigate the challenges ahead.  

 

Sources:

Benefits of Parental Controls | Digital Connect Mag

5 Advantages of Parental Control Apps | Mom Does Reviews

Digital Parenting 2021 | Intech Open

How You Can Set Up Parental Controls on Your Router

As we grow more reliant on our digital devices to work, play, and connect with the world, so do our kids. Digital parenting isn’t just a theory anymore—it’s a reality for anyone with children who spend time online, and it needs to be taken seriously.

Ask anyone with kids about their children’s tech habits, and prepare to hear about complaints, conflict, and even strain on the parent-child relationship. In some cases, kids can even become addicted to phones, apps, and game consoles, and parents may struggle to govern these situations in their homes.

We recommend you set up strong parental controls on your network at a router level because you deserve nothing less than the best when it comes to online safety for your family.

Today, let’s talk about how to set up parental controls on your router and regain the leverage, insight, and administrative capabilities you need to keep your kids safe in the digital age.

The Benefits of Routers with Built-In Parental Controls

Before you learn how to set up parental controls, it’s important to understand the reasons why a router with built-in controls is so important. Through its simple setup, centralized controls, and checklist of features, you’ll never look at another router the same way again.

Simple Setup

Setting up a Wi-Fi network is easier than ever. When parental controls are built into the product, it makes things even more simple. 

The more streamlined, the better—and that also applies to parental controls that come readymade, right out of the box.

If you have any prior experience with third-party parental controls, you know it’s never a quick setup process. Even if the initial installation is fast, you still need to repeat the process on each device. It’s inefficient and often ineffective.

Rather than shopping around for multiple pieces of software and trying out different apps, stick with parental controls that are built-in to your router and save yourself the time and effort.

Centralized Controls

Kids are constantly pushing boundaries online and in real life, so don’t allow any weaknesses in your network. The best way to handle digital parenting is through a centralized control system, and that’s exactly what you get with router-level software.

When you install applications directly onto a device, they can be accessed and altered from that device itself. This creates vulnerabilities that children can exploit with a bit of effort.

Router-level parental controls help you keep the power in your hands as the network administrator and cut out any possibility of your system being compromised by curious kids.

Complete Feature Checklist

Not only are router-level controls more secure and easier to set up, but they also tend to feature a more robust list of settings and capabilities that you’ll want in your parental wheelhouse.

These router-level controls are often best equipped to filter content, set access schedules, block apps, monitor browsing, and even detect external security threats.

You may be able to find third-party software with these key features, but it will likely require more than one app to achieve the complete control you need. Leave nothing to chance and use a single router-level system to manage everything in one place.

Keep in mind that some routers have limited default parental controls, while others are bare-bones hardware with none of these features whatsoever. 

Always do extensive research when shopping for a new router and make sure it checks all the boxes for performance, network security, mesh Wi-Fi capabilities, and parental controls.

Parental Controls Setup

Are you ready to set up network-level parental controls on your router? Every product is different, so be sure to read your router’s instructions carefully. 

Still, most systems have similar steps for setup. Below, you’ll find the typical process, so you can know what to expect.

Establish Your Network

First things first: make sure your network is up and running with a password that only you know.

Your router password is often printed on the hardware itself, allowing children to log in with administrative abilities. By changing the password, you ensure that curious kids can’t easily compromise your network.

After you choose a new password, it’s time to test your network and ensure that everything is running smoothly. Every device from tablets and phones to game consoles and laptops should be connected to the same network and within your control as an administrator.

Access Controls

Every router has a different way to access the main panel for parental controls.

Some products will ask you to type in a specific web browser address where a control center has all of your settings available. Other products will automatically download an application to your computer that you can use to access these controls with one click.

We suggest familiarizing yourself with all your options for network controls and taking note of all the devices connected to your router—there might be more than you think!

Use the Mobile App

If your router has a dedicated app for your phone, that’s a huge advantage.

The best parental control apps let you change settings and stay notified about activity on your network. You don’t need to log into your laptop or go to an IP address portal. It’s all accessible on your smartphone, no matter where you are.

Configuration

Once your controls have been set up, it’s time to configure them to your exact specifications. These controls make the biggest difference, and we have some suggestions for the settings that work best.

Content Filtering

The best parental control systems allow you to filter content in clear terms.

For instance, you can block certain websites on particular devices or use pre-set filters to limit content categories as you see fit.

Content goes beyond websites, as well. You can go through a list of applications that you might deem problematic, whether it’s social media, video streaming services, smart home voice commands, video games, or instant messaging.

You should also be able to configure content filters by user profile, meaning each person on the network has different boundaries applied to their devices.

This flexibility is necessary if you have kids in elementary school, middle school, high school, or college all on the same network. You can set content filters based on their age and be specific with restrictions, rather than relying on one broad barrier.

Access Scheduling

Is there a time of day when you want to reduce your children’s screen time? Maybe you want them to step away from screens altogether and join the family for dinner, or you need them to focus on tomorrow’s homework.

You can create access schedules in your parental controls center that are completely configurable based on user, application, and other variables.

For instance, if homework time is between five and seven PM, you can block access to distracting apps and websites. You can also restrict access to the entire internet at bedtime or reinstate access on weekends.

Every family approaches digital parenting differently, and access schedules are an important way to personalize your approach. Become familiar with your router’s access schedule settings so you can discover the best parental controls tailored to your family’s needs.

Browsing History

You can monitor browsing history in real-time or review browsing patterns over days, weeks, and months through the parental control access portal.

This feature is important to help track which sites and apps your children frequent and identify any trends that may concern you.

Treat this feature like your digital parenting analytics center, where you can find all the insights you need to make effective changes to your policies as needed. You can even review website reputations to see if you approve of the content or consider it inappropriate for young ones.

Intrusion Detection

Unless you’re a trained cybersecurity expert, you may need some help from your router applications to detect and defend against external threats.

While malware protection, ad blocking, and firewalls may seem unrelated to parental controls, the concept is the same. You want your family to be protected at all times, especially as kids navigate internet access at a young age.

Your security controls should be easily accessible and reviewable from a central app, giving you the power to protect against present and future threats to your network and devices.

Simple Setup, Full-Featured Controls

When it comes to routers, networks, and parental controls, you might feel like you need to make tradeoffs or compromises to get what you need.

Some Wi-Fi routers are geared for peak performance, while others are better suited for home network coverage. On the other hand, many routers lack parental controls or security features, even if they perform exceptionally well in speed and stability.

It is possible to find a Gryphon router that does it all, allowing you to set up parental controls with ease without compromising on the performance metrics that matter. Whether your priority is dual-band Wi-Fi with 5GHz bands, coverage over a massive square footage, or a router with tip-top speed, you don’t need to sacrifice your children’s online safety to make it happen.

Hopefully, this guide will help you find the best router and get the most of your purchase with parental controls that keep your family safe and happy.

 

Sources:

4 Ways to Set Up Parental Controls | How to Geek

How to Use Your Wi-Fi Router’s Parental Controls | CNET

Set Up Parental Controls on Router | High Speed Internet

What Is the Best Router with Parental Controls?

An unexpected challenge of modern parenting is managing how kids use the internet. Ask any parent about the dilemmas they face with social media, TV streaming, video games, and the overall issue of screen time, and you’ll discover that it’s a ubiquitous problem that is increasing across the board. 

If you find it hard to monitor what your kids are doing online or cannot get them to disconnect, you’re not alone. So many parents are looking for ways to set strong boundaries while building trust with their kids and keeping conflict to a minimum. Parental controls are here to help.

Let’s talk about why router-based parental controls are your best option, the features your parental control router should include, and other key considerations when picking out a router for your family.

Router Parental Controls vs. Third-Party Software

Below, you’ll discover the three reasons why you should opt for a parental controls router instead of installing third-party software.

Simple Setup

You shouldn’t need a degree in IT to set up parental controls for you and your family.

By using router-based parental controls, everything you need can be set up quickly without installing software on individual devices. This feature will save you plenty of time and energy when it comes to parental controls, especially if you’ve got dozens of different devices on your network.

When parental controls are built into your router, there’s no need to install apps on every last tablet, computer, and console in the house. All your tailored settings are applied to the router, automatically synching to every device that connects to your network.

Centralized Controls

Parental controls should be easily accessible from one central point of access. That’s exactly what you get with router-level controls, which allow for total visibility and management across your Wi-Fi network—including all relevant devices.

As the parent, you should be in control. All of your settings are within reach when you have an app that handles everything in one place.

A specific portal for parental controls and general network management is the best practice for digital parenting, cybersecurity, performance monitoring, and more.

Complete Feature List

Now that you know why parental controls are better suited for routers than third-party applications, let’s examine which essential features you’ll need to meet the growing demands of digital parenting.

These features can be grouped into three primary categories: content filtering, access controls, and browsing history.

Content filtering features include:

-Blocking certain websites for certain devices

-Setting filters by age and content type

-Enforcing SafeSearch 

-Restricting access to pages and features on social media

-Stopping exposure to inappropriate images and videos

-Reviewing websites and apps based on rankings from other parents

Access control features include:

-Setting times for access to certain apps and sites for each device

-Designated “off hours” for limited screen time and app use

-Allowing or restricting access on each day of the week and weekends

-Imposing daily use limits for TV, games, and social media

-Suspending internet access altogether, if necessary

Browsing history features include:

-Reviewing which sites, apps, and features are accessed on each device

-Tracking browsing patterns and behavior

-Monitoring how long children are spending online

-Adjusting settings and controls based on browsing history

-You may not use all of these features at once, but you’ll want each of these essential controls within reach as your kids get older and spend more time online.

Other Key Router Features

You shouldn’t buy a router exclusively for the parental control features. 

Speed, reliability, and coverage are just as important, and additional features like a dedicated app or enhanced security might be must-haves in your home. It’s vital to look at the complete picture before making your choice.

If you’re wondering what other key features to look for in a router aside from parental controls, here are three categories to consider.

Dedicated App

Many parental control routers feature a portal that you can access on a laptop or desktop computer, but only the best products come with a dedicated app on your phone for instant configuration.

These apps should give you quick access to all parental controls, plus all the settings for security and general network. No more fumbling around for a random IP address or dealing with a clunky browser-based settings panel. The app should be able to do it all quickly and easily.

Through a single app, you should also be able to view the performance metrics that matter as a network administrator, ensuring that you get your money’s worth when paying for high-speed internet each month.

Finally, the app you download should be designed by and for the specific hardware you’ve installed, whether a standalone router or mesh Wi-Fi system with satellite units.

This ensures the software and hardware are optimized for connectivity and compatibility, which can be an issue for third-party software.

Security and Protection

If you take parental controls seriously but fail to account for internet security at home, you’re missing a major part of the equation. Protecting your family from external threats in addition to internal breaches can help provide peace of mind.

As more devices are connected to your network, including appliances, security systems, cameras, and even thermostats, security should be a top priority when choosing a router or a mesh Wi-Fi system.

Once again, the best security protections are at the router level and made accessible through a dedicated app or portal. You should be able to monitor your network from every angle and know exactly when intrusions are taking place, ensuring that each threat is neutralized.

Since cyberthreats are always evolving, you want a security system that also improves and changes with the times. The best internet security routers feature machine learning technology to actively combat new threats as they emerge across the web.

It’s not just your laptop and phone that need protection nowadays. Every device on your network should be secured, even those that don’t appear vulnerable to attacks.

High Performance Network

What good is a parental controls router if it doesn’t deliver on speed, stability, and other performance metrics?

Before committing to a router, make sure it’s capable of transmitting fast Wi-Fi signals to your devices and communicating with other satellite units or “nodes” in the mesh network. You want a strong, stable connection, no matter where you are in the house.

That means using a router that you can rely on for performance that also includes all the extra security and protection factors that keep you and your family safe.

Routers of the Future: What to Expect

The routers of today have come a long way in just a few short years, but what’s around the corner for next-generation router features and capabilities?

The Expansion of Parental Controls

We’ve mapped out the key features you need for effective digital parenting, but the routers of the future will likely have even more controls for increased protection and accountability.

Content filters will improve and become more targeted, access schedules will be more adaptable and personalized, and future routers will likely incorporate AI and machine learning features.

These upgrades will help parents support healthy web habits, knowing that children are safely browsing the internet and using applications wisely while staying balanced with other non-digital activities.

Security is Essential

The importance of security can’t be overstated. You must protect your personal and financial information while preventing unauthorized access to your networks as more devices and essential services are added over time.

Most networks already support some version of a smart home or Internet of Things configuration. The more devices added, the more potential vulnerabilities lurk in the shadows. Think ahead and have a router that protects your network in every way.  

Mesh Networks, Wi-Fi 6, and More

Whether you’re installing routers in bigger homes or small business offices, mesh networks are the most effective option for performance and wide-ranging Wi-Fi coverage.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems with parental controls and security features give you the best of all worlds when managing these larger networks!

Perhaps you don’t need mesh capabilities right now. Still, it never hurts to plan for your next upgrade, especially as new protocols such as Wi-Fi 6 are becoming standard across the industry.

The Best All-Around Router with Parental Controls

Picking a router with strong parental controls is key if you want to filter content, monitor browsing, and set access limits for kids at home.

Where third-party software falls short, router-based controls give the power back to the parents. Of course, parental controls are just the beginning when choosing a router.

You need to also consider performance, implementation, configuration, device management, and security features. The router you select should be the best in all regards, rather than just one category.

 

Sources:

Best Wi-Fi Router for Parental Controls | Home Network Geek

Parental Control Apps and Devices | Fatherly

Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls | Common Sense Media

You Should Be Moving Right Now

If you’re reading this article, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re sitting down while at your computer, or lying down while on your phone, or sitting down while on your phone, or reclining while using your tablet… you get the gist. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not moving right now. You probably rarely are.

Don’t worry, no one’s trying to guilt you—feel free to place the blame on society’s late 20th-century pivot to office life. Sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950. Physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of the U.S. workforce. The average office worker now sits for around 15 hours every day! It’s not your fault if you find yourself motionless for the majority of the day. You’re one person among many who are facing the exact same problem. 

But this doesn’t mean you should be content with the way things are.

Sitting is killing you… literally

Sitting all day can cause health problems and even lead to early death, with risks comparable to those posed by obesity and smoking. It’s a factor in developing diabetes and heart disease. Even if you exercise for an hour before work every day, you won’t be able to compensate for the health risks associated with a whole day of sitting. 

The sedentary lifestyle isn’t sustainable—for any of us. Still, you’re not likely to quit your office job even if it is slowly killing you. So what else can you do about it? 

Movement is everything

This article was originally going to answer that question in list format, but every item on that list essentially boiled down to one thing: Get up and move. The type of movement doesn’t matter as much as the frequency. You barely even need to concern yourself with the duration.

Like we said, it doesn’t matter if you work out for twenty minutes, or half an hour, or an hour before sitting down to work at your desk. What matters is that you have some kind of way to get your blood flowing multiple times a day. The human body wasn’t made to sit still for an hour, let alone twelve.

When to move

The best schedule is to take a ten- or fifteen-minute break at least once an hour, and to keep your focus on work in between those breaks. This aligns with the body’s natural rhythm of high and low activity. 

You might think that a break is just another disruption in your tight schedule, but the reality is that getting up to stretch and walk around will not only increase your lifespan, it’ll make you more comfortable and productive in the long run. 

Moving alleviates pain

Remaining in the same position for hours at a time can wreak havoc on your body. Even if you try to be conscious of your posture, sitting at a desk usually results in sustained tension in your back and shoulders. Plus, muscles require frequent use in order to stay strong and flexible. Weak muscles are the chief culprit of wrist and back pain that so often accompany a desk job. 

Strengthening exercises are the best way to remedy this pain, but even getting up at least once an hour to stretch will help work your muscles and release tension. 

Moving increases focus

Small bursts of physical activity can improve your concentration in other areas of your life. A short, brisk walk is the perfect level of intensity to get your brain back on track with the project you’ve been slogging through. And, if you have the time, a more intensive workout like a quick run can significantly enhance concentration for up to an hour.

Moving lowers stress

According to the Mayo Clinic, almost any form of exercise or movement can decrease your stress. In general, taking a relaxing break—one where you detach from work completely and take time to reset and refocus—can help you recover from and reduce stress. Movement helps with this because it gives you something else to focus on besides work, and releases dopamine to boot.

Besides being amazing for your health, taking time to destress also improves productivity, meaning there are no more excuses for not getting up from your chair.

Consider walking a couple of loops around the office, or, if you work from home, taking a stroll around the block. Walk or jog up a flight of stairs. Stretch at your desk, do some jumping jacks, or keep a resistance band at your desk to do a few back and arm exercises. 

Stand up, save a life

38% of Americans now say they would be able to work completely from home, meaning that for many people, for most of the day, there’s no real relationship between them and their physical surroundings. But just because most of our work takes place inside a screen doesn’t mean our body stops existing in the meantime. We might not be hunting and gathering, but our health and happiness are still impacted by how we treat the physical self that carries us through the world. 

Getting up and moving around throughout the day not only makes you healthier and more productive, it also negates the deathly effects of sitting still. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to make your life easier—and longer. 

So quit reading this and take a moment to move!

When can my child start learning how to code?

A child works on block-based coding

It may seem complicated on the surface, but your child can actually start learning the basics of how to code as early as four or five. Here are some first steps to get you started.

What is code?

To get a computer to do a specific task, one must first give it step-by-step instructions of how the task can be accomplished. These instructions are what we refer to as code. The people who write this code are known as computer programmers. 

Code is actually the colloquial term for a high-level programming language. A programming language is the middle man between our complex human language and the simple numerical language of a computer’s machine code. Programming languages allow us to create computer software, websites, apps, and more without having to write in machine code. 

There are many different languages a person can code in, each with its own particular usefulness. This includes Python, Java, JavaScript, C#, C++, and more. HTML and CSS, while not technically programming languages, are also forms of code that can help structure and format a webpage. 

In summary, code is a set of step-by-step instructions written to ensure that a computer accomplishes a specific task.

Why should my child learn to code? 

Code is woven into our daily world

The most obvious reason why coding is important is that we now live in a globalized society that relies on computers for business, banking, communication, entertainment, and more. Code is woven into our daily world, and programmers are always needed to develop and update software, apps, and websites.

Coding has become such an essential part of our world that K-12 public schools in the state of California recently established computer science standards that foster programming skills starting kindergarten. Almost half of all American states have implemented or are developing similar standards. These standards are currently optional. But their existence means that many people are acknowledging the importance of offering an early-learning path to coding.

And this is a worldwide trend. Last year, computer programming was made compulsory in public schools across Japan. The UK began implementing their computer science curriculum back in 2015 and are still working to perfect it. More than two dozen other countries have similarly evolving computer science standards. Computer programming is an essential part of society, and in future generations will likely be integrated into curriculums worldwide. Why not get a head start?

Coding experience is valuable in any industry

Learning how to code from an early age can open up paths to a stable and well-paying career: The median salary for a computer programmer in the US is $65,000, and $72,000 for software developers. With years of experience, this number could be much higher.

But coding knowledge is also helpful in many fields outside of software and web development. Graphic designers, content writers, social media managers, marketing strategists and business analysts are all able to use code to make their work stand out. Coding experience can open doors to more creative careers, like animation or game development. 

Every industry needs programmers to help with websites, marketing, and more. Code can also be used to automate any menial work done on a computer, like data entry and accounting. And because code is involved in any online content, coding experience makes it easier to communicate with the developers on a team. Knowing how to code will automatically give your child a leg up in any career they choose to pursue. 

Coding will teach your child logic and creative problem-solving skills

Perhaps the biggest advantage of learning to code is that it fuels the development of logic and problem-solving skills. Coding typically requires thinking of an end goal, and then formulating and implementing the steps to get there. A computer needs extremely specific instructions to run. It may be capable of a lot, but it can’t think on its own. Directions must be given and parameters must be set in order to ensure the computer doesn’t run into any obstacles while is tries to accomplish its task. 

All this requires logic and creative problem-solving on the part of the programmer. There’s always a solution, and the earlier your child learns to code, the easier it will be for them to find those creative solutions.

Learning to code can boost your child’s confidence

Much of coding involves trial-and-error. In learning to code, your child will learn that mistakes are inevitable but can always be fixed. This will increase their confidence and allow them to be more secure in themselves in school, at home, and among their peers. 

Coding is intellectually stimulating

Coding is a fun, educational, and creative way to occupy your child’s time. If your child is often bored at home, or always interested in new things, introduce them to coding! They can animate, design websites, or even make their own Minecraft mods. Even younger kids can have fun solving the simple logic problems that make up the fundamentals of coding. 

When can my child start learning how to code? 

Your child can probably start learning how to code much earlier than you think. This is because computer programming is rooted in logic, math, and other concepts that your child is already learning in their early years. In general, it’s a step-by-step process that will depend in part on a child’s age and in part on their individual development. Here’s a general idea of the concepts and skills your child will be able to grasp, dependent on their age and experience:

Preschool

Your child can start learning the most basic fundamentals of coding as early as four or five. Even if they’re not able to type yet, they have the critical thinking skills necessary to deconstruct the patterns, algorithms, and other processes that make up their world. Coding is all about the logic and reason that underlies a task. Getting dressed, brushing teeth, making pancakes, doing the dishes… all these daily tasks can be broken down into smaller steps that allow children to see the thinking behind them.

1st-2nd grade

The next step, for when your child is around five or six, would be to introduce them to games and logic puzzles that allow them to identify more abstract patterns and processes. These unplugged coding activities from Kodable are a great place to start: They cover sequences, conditions, functions, loops, properties and more.

3rd-5th grade

Once your child is old enough to read, write, and use a computer, there are many free programs like CodeMonkey and Blockly that teach the building blocks of computer programming: events, loops, repeats, lists, conditionals, and more. The best part is that these coding challenges are formatted as games and creative activities, so your child will have fun and learn at the same time. 

Most of these programs involve using “blocks” to construct stories and games, rather than having the user type out lines of code themselves. It’s a system that allows young minds to visualize patterns and understand how specific instructions work together, rather than getting caught up in what those instructions are. Because it’s so goal-oriented and involves creative problem solving, even the simplest of coding activities can be very satisfying.

Creating in Scratch is an excellent middle ground between educational games and writing out code. It gives kids the opportunity to see what other people are creating and come up with their own ideas. Scratch uses block-based coding but gives users the space to create any simple game or animation that they want.

Snap is also block-based, but offers a little more complexity. It allows users to convert code into Java, Python, and other languages. But there aren’t as many resources available for the recently developed Snap as there are for Scratch. 

5th-6th grade+

From here, your child can move on to learning a programming language and writing out their own code. Python is often hailed as the best place to start because it’s a general purpose programming language and reads the most like regular English. JavaScript, most commonly used for web development, is another good choice. Learning JavaScript in combination with HTML and CSS means your child will be creating stellar websites in no time.

Many kids are interested in learning how to mod the games they already play. If your child is particularly invested in Roblox, consider introducing them to Lua. If they play a lot of Minecraft, consider Java. Lua is the simpler of the two. Java is a fairly complicated language but widely used, so if you have a naturally code-savvy kid, it’s a great one to learn early.

If you’re concerned about your kid learning how to code their way around Gryphon’s parental controls, don’t be. The only person who has access to change those restrictions is you. So don’t worry, there’s no such thing as learning too much.

Coding for kids resources

The programming community is a collaborative one, meaning that there are plenty of amazing guides and resources available for free online—just search up what you want to know. Code.org is a great place to start CodeWizardsHQ has coding classes as well as round-ups of valuable websites, apps, and games. 

Block-based coding is probably the simplest and most versatile ways to learn code for any age. In case you missed it, here are our favorite spaces for block-based coding:

Scratch

Snap

Blockly

And here are some resources for when your kid is ready to move onto text-based coding:

Tynker

Codecademy

CodeCombat

CodeWizardsHQ

Codakid

Remember, your child will be resistant to learning if they feel pressured or frustrated. Programming is fun but it isn’t always easy, so if they show an interest, allow them to work their way up to text-based programming languages at their own pace. Happy coding!

Does My Router Really Matter?

So you need a new router. Or, you’ve heard that there are better routers out there than the one you’re using. Unless you’re the kind of person who geeks out about any and all technology, you’re probably asking yourself, does the type of router you choose really all that important?

Well, let’s break it down: how much time do you spend online? What about your partner? Your kids? How many people in your household are on their devices at once? What do you use the Internet for?

Let’s assume you follow the trends of the vast majority of Americans. 93% of people in the U.S. use the Internet for one reason or another. 76% of American adults access their bank account on mobile. In 2020, the average American household had more than ten devices connected to their home network. On average. If you have multiple children, chances are you have way more than that — phones, tablets, laptops, televisions, streaming devices, smart speakers, maybe even a smart fridge.

You work online, bank online, upload insurance claims online. Your children are on Instagram, Youtube, TikTok; they play Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox. They probably still go to school online. Sharing baby pictures, video calling grandparents, game night, movie night, date night — all of these things happen over the Internet, meaning even your closest relationships are inextricable from the Web and your devices.

Almost every aspect of your life is connected to the Internet. Why wouldn’t a router be important?

A router provides all of your devices an access point to the Internet. (Your modem can only connect one device at a time.) Routers dictate your connection speed. A poor router can completely cancel out the money you spend on a high-speed Internet provider.

Because it is the access point for all your devices, routers are also a main line of defense against cyberattacks, and a good router will ensure your network security.

With the right router, you can even control who has access to the Internet at what times. Plus which sites certain devices get to visit, and even how much bandwidth a particular device gets to use! This lets you be in greater control of the devices in your home, and protects your children from the unsavory parts of the Internet.

Failing to invest in a router which excels in all of these areas puts you at risk of dropped calls, network attacks, viruses and more.

Let’s take a closer look at how your router can impact your quality of life.

The average Internet download speed ranges from 12 to 25 mbps. This speed will work for you if you are a single-person household using your devices to check your email, read the news, take voice calls, and maybe stream a Netflix movie or use Zoom once in a while. But what if you work from home? What if you live in a household of two people, or three, or six?

The amount of time you spend on the Internet, the complexity your online activities, and the number of people in your house all exponentially impact your need for faster WiFi. With all of these factors compounded, you’ll want a router that can make the most of your Internet access.

As this article puts it, “Your internet is only as fast as the slowest part of your network, so if your router isn’t capable of handling your internet speed, it acts as a choke point for your whole home network. And if that’s the case, you need to replace your router ASAP. Otherwise, you’re paying for more internet bandwidth than you’re actually getting.”

In other words, if you’re paying your Internet provider for speeds of 500 mbps, but have a router which can only handle 300 mbps, you’re losing 200 mbps just by owning the wrong router.

The original Gryphon tower provides Internet speeds up to 1.3 Gbps. That’s 108x faster than the average speed of 12 mbps! And that means that you don’t have to worry about dropped calls or missed classes or video lag, or how many devices are currently connected to the network, or which kid is gaming while you’re trying to watch the new season of The Crown.

Your life is complicated. Why should you own a router which complicate things more?

Gryphon routers are some of the fastest on the market. You can even combine two or more to provide seamless mesh network coverage for your entire house. Plug in your Gryphon tower or Guardian — which provides speeds of up to 550 mbps for smaller households — and you’ll have faster WiFi on all your devices within minutes.

Dennis Devlin, our Consumer Security Advocate, has written this informative brief on why you should know what’s on your home network. Here are some of his key points:

Your home network is worth attacking because it’s an entry point to almost everything else: your place of work, your children’s school, your bank, your credit cards, your doctor, your merchants and more.

• A crime using your home network address covers the criminal’s tracks because it looks like you committed the crime.

• Every single device connected to your home is a computer that could potentially open an outbound connection through your router firewall. Then, hackers can upload and download information you never know anything about.

• Your router is your main point of access to the Internet. This means that the type of router you own is essential in protecting your network security.

Gryphon makes it easy for you to identify every device connected to your network. Gryphon also incorporates active malware protection using both signatures and machine learning to quickly detect and stop malicious behavior by any device connected to your network. It watches your network and household 24/7 — providing you with a comprehensive security system for one of the most complicated, most valuable assets in your home.

The right router can protect your family

A good router can keep your family safe from more than just network attacks.

This study from 2015 found that average, teens spent more than six and a half hours on screens. Tweens spent more than four and a half hours — and this was six years ago. Most children’s screen time doubled in 2020, making it no surprise that 46% of kids ages 12–16 feel they’re addicted to their smartphones.

56% of 11–16 year olds have seen explicit material online. Half of all children ages 10 to 18 have experienced some kind of cyberbullying.

Your kids are immersed in a digital world all day, often with completely free rein over what sites they visit and who they talk to. Don’t you want to make sure they’re as healthy and safe on the Internet as they are outside of it?

Gryphon routers have some of the most comprehensive parental controls on the market. The system is simple, no-fuss, and controlled via app. Once you set it, it will look over your kids’ shoulders so you don’t have to, saving you valuable time and energy and forcing your kids offline for at least part of their day.

Without the draw of their screens, your kids will move more, get more sunlight, develop more hobbies. They’ll be less prone to social media pressures and Internet addiction. You can prevent your young ones from seeing pornography, even accidentally, and block them from any sites that are unhealthy.

Here are some ideas for what your kids can do once they’re unplugged.

Your router matters. It’s a vital part of your household that keeps everything running smoothly. Like your own vital parts, you probably also don’t want to think about it that often. You want to plug it in beside a desk and forget about it, and not have to worry about data breaches or streaming lag or how many hours your kid spends on YouTube.

With Gryphon, you can do that, because you can be assured that you’re getting the best. So plug it in and rest easy.

Gryphon Insiders Webinar Recap: Tips & Tricks, Q&A and more

Last Wednesday, Gryphon Insiders held our first live webinar. We discussed new releases, network security, and tips & tricks for making the most of their Gryphon routers. We were also able to answer some of our Insiders’ burning questions. Read on to find out more about this exclusive presentation—and, if you’re interested, how you can attend the next one.

What is Gryphon Insiders?

The Internet and the ways we use it are constantly evolving, so we at Gryphon understand that we need to be constantly evolving too. We’re not perfect, but we strive to be the best, and we’re always ready to adapt to the changing needs of our current users. 

One way we do this is by connecting with people who already own a Gryphon router. This way, we can find out what we can do better, with the guidance of the real pros—namely the parents, educators, and even kids who use our products every day.

This is why we set up Gryphon Insiders, a club for the people who love their router and have ideas about how Gryphon can improve.

Among the perks of joining Gryphon Insiders is access to our live webinars, where Insiders can ask questions and have them answered by Gryphon’s most knowledgable industry professionals. Insiders will also get personalized digital parenting tips and security advice, and may even be updated on new releases ahead of other customers. 

What kind of information can I access through Gryphon Insiders? 

To give you an idea of the information you’ll have access to at one of our live webinars, we’re happy to present you with a basic recap of our first webinar. Panelists went into great depth during the meeting, so this summary just skims the surface of the exclusive information you’ll be able to access if you join Gryphon Insiders. 

The importance of securing your home network in the (post-)pandemic era

First, founder and CEO John Wu opened with a discussion about a new product launch and a big upcoming software update, which includes new data insights and additional machine learning features. 

He then briefly discussed the necessity of securing home networks, especially in recent months. “If you really think about it, our home networks are becoming enterprise networks. Most of you have at least a dozen connected devices in your home… Just over the past year, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of attacks that are happening. Ransomware has increased over 400%… Most of us are working at home, we’re doing distance learning, so hackers are targeting homes.” 

John then passed the mic to Consumer Security Advocate Dennis Devlin, who has worked as a chief security officer at various companies and schools for decades.

Dennis talked first about what drew him to Gryphon. “Professionals like me used to make a lot of money, still do, securing big networks. Each individual parent and homeowner now, especially in light of COVID and everything else, has to put together a network that can not only secure the entertainment that it was brought in for, but also work from home, learn from home, do all your purchasing from home, and it’s a really scary proposition.” 

He invited attendees to check out some of his recent blog posts on the ins and outs of cybersecurity, including this one which encourages you to learn what’s on your network.

“I could share with you logs, every single day, of people trying to break into our home network,” he adds. “They’re just scanning random IPs.” 

He gave advice on how to better protect your home network from attacks, expanding on points made in his last blog post. 

Setting up routers, restrictions, and how to avoid early mistakes

Next up was Senior Technical Support Manager Sarah Kimmel, who besides being a tech expert and blogger is also a mom herself. Sarah was one of Gryphon’s first customers and supporters and recently joined the Gryphon team. She was reminiscing with John about their first meeting, even before the Gryphon tower had its release:

“As soon as I met you, I knew exactly when I spoke to you that this was exactly the product I’ve been waiting for, I’ve been looking for, I was super excited and couldn’t wait until you actually had a product to release… It was exactly what I was looking for.” 

Sarah talked first about the standard spacing for routers and repeaters to get coverage over the entire house, taking a deep dive into this infographic:

She discussed how to determine if your repeater is too far from your router: Click “Network” in the app and then click the green Wi-Fi icon next to the name of your mesh repeater. If the RSSI is higher than 20, you’re good to go.

She also discussed possible Gryphon setups for families that primarily used shared devices. (Essentially, set restrictions for the age of the youngest kid on the device.) 

We then moved on to Q&A. Sarah and Allan Chua, VP of Marketing and Business Development, talked about how to avoid the early mistakes that some Gryphon users make, including forgetting to power cycle their router and modem. Dennis explained why it’s important to block access to Tor and other parts of the dark web.

Panelists were also able to answer some new questions in the chat as they came up. After thirty minutes of updates, informative tips, and one-on-one answers to our Insiders’ questions, we were ready to wrap up the thirty-minute webinar. 

Interested in joining our next live webinar and having early access to exclusive information? 

The next live webinar for Gryphon Insiders will be streamed on Zoom on June 2nd, 10:30 AM. Chris McKenna, founder of Protect Young Eyes, an organization dedicated to digital education and protecting kids. All you have to do is sign up for Gryphon Insiders. 

How do I join Gryphon Insiders?

It’s easy: just sign up here. The good news is it’s completely free, and you don’t have to give out any personal or confidential information. Every two weeks you’ll have the chance to participate in activities or challenges with fellow Gryphon users: posting reviews and stories, referring friends, and more.

Each time you complete an activity, you’ll earn rewards points. You can then redeem these points for online gift cards and other valuable rewards—like access to our webinars. There, you’ll get to participate in our Q&As, plus receive exclusive information and updates. These webinars go into even greater depth than we’re able to discuss on this blog, and strengthen connections between Gryphon and our users on a more personal level. 

We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how we can improve our routers and software to make your life easier. Join Gryphon Insiders today. 

5 Free, Safe Online Games to Play with Your Family at Home Right Now

Technology should be a tool that you use, not one that uses you. Gryphon routers were designed with this very idea in mind. It means that your devices don’t have to drive a wedge between you and your kids. In fact, used right, they can help you become closer as a family. To prove it to you, we’ve picked out six free app-based or online games that parents and kids of all ages can enjoy. 

We’ve selected online games that are extra fun if you’re playing in the same room, but if there’s a family member you want to play with who can’t be there with you, you can also play almost all of these online or over Zoom. 

(If you’re trying to unplug, see this article for advice on offline activities.)

 

1. skribbl.io

A favorite at my own house, skribbl.io is basically the online version of Pictionary. The best thing about it is that there’s no need to fuss with timers or word cards or pencil sharpeners. Everything is built in to the game, leaving more time for fun. 

Each player needs their own device, but you can play on mobile, tablet, or desktop. First, create a private room. Share the link with the whole family. Then pick the length of each turn and the number of rounds you want to play. You can even input your own list of clues.

The player drawing is given three options to choose from, which usually range from simple to difficult. Other players simply type their guesses into the chat. Scores are calculated based on how fast you guess as well as how many people guess your drawing correctly. 

The variety of clues makes this game most suitable for ages seven and up, but any reading-age child could participate. Just make sure to input words into the generator that are simple enough for them to draw. 

2. Among Us

This space-themed game for iOS and Android was a huge hit in 2020 because it’s simple, it’s social, and it’s fun. Each player will need their own device. You can create a private session for you and your family, or you can all join the same public game to increase the number of players.

At the beginning of Among Us, each player is assigned a role: Crewmate or Impostor. If you’re a Crewmate, your job is to do specific tasks assigned to you by the game. If you’re an Impostor—aka an alien—your job is to kill the Crewmates, all while pretending to be one of them. 

Each time a dead Crewmate is found, a round of voting ensues: Who is the Impostor who should be kicked off the ship? Of course each player will defend themselves, so everyone has to work together to determine who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. 

Get it right and your crew is safe. Get it wrong and you might be next.

The violence in this game is simple and cartoonish, but it is a game of deception, so we recommend this game for ages eight and up. 

3. Spaceteam

Unlike most app-based or online games, Spaceteam requires that you be in the same room as other players, which makes it particularly suitable for family game night.

As the creator Henry Smith says in this LA Times article, “The game itself happens outside the screen. Computers are just tools that facilitate the act of play.”

It is a cooperative game for Android and iOS that is mean to foster teamwork and communication. It succeeds, in a way, but there will probably be a lot of good-natured shouting involved. 

The premise of the game is this: You and your fellow players form the crew of a poorly built spaceship. You must maintain, navigate, and pilot the ship, all while avoiding meteors and other obstacles. 

Each player is given a different section of the ship’s control board on their phone or tablet of choice. Each player also receives time-sensitive maintenance alerts and piloting orders—but these alerts and what’s on your control board don’t necessarily line up. This is where the social aspect comes into play: You must say these instructions out loud to get the information to the player who needs them. At the same time, you have to listen to your teammates for your instructions.

It’s a little convoluted, but it’s also easier to play than to explain. As the levels progress, the game gets more and more difficult, and the volume in the room will get louder and louder. Eventually your ship will crash, but see how far you can make it before then! Your family will get better at the game with time. 

Avoid Spaceteam if shouting or loud noises are a significant stressor for anyone in your family. Otherwise, this game can be played by any child who’s very comfortable with reading and multitasking.

4. GeoGuessr

One of the online games which got my family through lockdown was Geoguessr. This geographic game is as educational as it is fun, and you’ll only need one device to play it—preferably a desktop computer or laptop. 

GeoGuessr utilizes Google Maps Street View to provide your family with a geographic mystery. For each round, the game drops you in a random location. Then you have to determine where you are in the world using street signs, topography, foliage, and other clues. The closer your guess is to the given location, the more points you earn. 

It’s a game that your family will get better at over time, as you learn the languages and landscapes of different countries. 

You can play one free game of Geoguessr per device per day. This includes five rounds of gameplay with no time limit. But the unlimited, adless version, which also allows you to pick which area of the world you’re dropped in or groups locations by theme, is just $1.99 a month. This version also allows you to play timed rounds, which can make the game more challenging.

Geoguessr is suitable for all ages. 

5. Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart, on your phone, for free! Does it get any better than that? 

If your Wii is a little outdated but you’re not ready to splurge on a Switch quite yet, or you don’t have enough remotes for everyone to play on the big screen, Mario Kart Tour is a great alternative. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and up to eight people can play together. Create your own private room to play against your family members, either locally or online.

Mario Kart Tour has the additional benefit of having periodic updates and new content added to the game every two weeks. Race through new maps, find out new shortcuts, and use new items to set back your opponents. 

 

It’s easy to dismiss online games as a way to disconnect from reality. But games are and have always been a way to connect to other people. If you’re adaptable in your idea of what family time means, you’ll see that no matter how the world might be evolving, there’s no shortage of ways to bond with your family. Happy gaming!

Should I Let My Kids Have Online Friends?

Should I let my kids have online friends?

Understanding Online Friends

I grew up in a place where I didn’t speak the language, making opportunities for friendships limited. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t have anyone in my life yet who was willing to read what I wrote. So I began publishing my writing online and making friends as a young teen, discovering communities where I felt welcome and appreciated. 

I still had friends at school and was close with my family, but I felt more confident and fulfilled because I could talk on forums with people who had the same interests—and even as I’ve moved from place to place, I’ve maintained some of those friendships for over a decade.

So I know from experience that there are advantages to letting your kids join online communities and make Internet friends, especially if they feel lonely or misunderstood among their in-person peers. 

I also know that there are drawbacks: Being too online in any capacity, especially on social media, can make a person more prone to anxiety and depression. It’s easy to get addicted to the constant stimulation of the Internet, and social media may leave your child struggling with perfectionism. But these are not problems specific to online communities or online friendships, and they can be offset by reducing your children’s screen time. 

The reality is that letting your older child make friends online isn’t much more dangerous than dropping them off at a concert or a party: As long as they’re wary of who they talk to, and how much information they give out, they should be fine. 

Remember that the younger generation conducts much of their lives in a digital landscape already. This means that preventing them from talking to people online seems, to them, completely arbitrary. Would you only limit your child’s friends to people in a certain zip code?

These friendships are happening organically, especially since COVID-19 has confined most children and teens to their homes—in gaming communities such as Minecraft and Fortnite, on forums that serve a common interest such as Reddit, on Twitter or Tumblr in fandom spaces, or even on Instagram.

Consider that pen pals offered a similar kind of support in the pre-Internet days, bridging physical distance with communication that was often more open, honest, and thoughtful than what could be conducted in-person. According to a study conducted at UCI, the same core qualities of friendship that are present in strong offline friendships are present between close Internet friends as well. 

The Dangers of Online Friends

Many parents’ chief concern is that their child will be victim to predators masquerading as people their age. But besides being a rare possibility to begin with, the reality is that if your child is open with you, you’re much more likely to be able to spot any red flags they miss. 

“The whole stranger-danger movement did more to create anxiety in children than it did to protect them,” says Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, in this wonderful article by Julie Jargon of the Wall Street Journal. “If you turn everyone you don’t know into a danger, you live in a pretty scary world.”

In other words, teaching your child how to navigate online interactions, and recognize abusive or suspicious behavior—the same things you teach them to protect them offline—will do far more to protect them than trying to ban them from online communities entirely. 

My personal experience, and what I’ve heard about in my own communities, is that kids and teens online are most often groomed by people whom they know to be much older. These people make them feel special, often telling them that they are “mature for their age” and building trust over long periods of time.

This behavior is more likely to occur when channels of communication between kids and the adults in their physical spaces are strained or closed—they are seeking attention and respect elsewhere. So it’s vital that your child feels loved and respected at home, and comfortable enough with you that they’re willing to talk about the friends they’re making. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Online Friends

As with many aspects of parenting, sometimes only trust and open communication will set your mind at ease about your children’s online friendships. To maintain this communication, your child shouldn’t feel judged when they talk about their Internet friends. Often, they consider those friends as valuable as those in their real life. Treat online friends like you would treat their offline ones: Ask how they’re doing, what they and your child have been doing and talking about, and give advice if there’s any conflict. 

Give your kids reason to trust you—don’t snoop through their devices without their permission unless you truly believe they’re in danger, and make them feel safe coming to you when they feel they’re in trouble, even if it may be the result of them breaking a rule. Feeling like they need to keep secrets from you will make it that much easier for them to be manipulated.

Aside from keeping up a relationship of trust with your child, there are some general rules to follow if your child is going to make friends on the Internet safely. 

1. Try not to let your kids on social media before the age of thirteen, or at least make sure they’re only interacting with people they know in person—they need time to build friendships and confidence in their physical spaces, and should be mature enough to know what type of people to avoid. 

2. Young people should refrain from giving out their full name, where they live, where they go to school, their phone number, photos of their face, and photos with location tracking embedded.

3. Make sure they’re not befriending people who are significantly older than them. 

4. Teach them it’s okay to block individuals whom they feel uncertain about, even if there’s no “real reason” beyond their own instinct, and even if they think they will come off as rude.

5. Just as they would avoid bullies in real life, they should also avoid or block anyone who makes cruel comments about others online. 

6. They should know explicitly that racist, misogynistic, antisemitic and other destructive language is not okay, even if they use it in a “joking” or “ironic” manner—see this article by Caitlin Gibson of the Washington Post for more information on how memes contribute to radicalization. 

7. Kids should still spend the majority of their time offline, have confidence interacting with people in person, and maintain a real life support system: If they begin lacking in these areas, use your Gryphon router to limit their access to WiFi or even just certain websites. 

8. Make sure your children are open with you—Gryphon may let you see their browsing history, but you shouldn’t have to stalk them to be aware of their general activity!—and talk with them if they become secretive, there are significant changes in their behavior, or you’re otherwise worried about their safety. 

These are all crucial steps in making sure your child is protected, and ensuring they have a healthy relationship with both the Internet and the friends they make there.

All Children Are Different

So if you feel like your child isn’t quite mature enough to engage with people their age over the Internet, or if you’ve had trust issues with them in the past, use your own judgment to determine at what age and to what extent they are allowed to interact with people online. Gryphon can always help you monitor them more securely.

The point is, don’t let blind fear lead you to arbitrarily ban your children from communicating with people and developing friendships online. It’s hard to adjust when this kind of technology and globalization feels so new, but the reality is that the online world isn’t so different from the offline world. There are some dangers, but for the most part it’s full of people trying their best, being earnest with each other, and trying to find others whom they can relate to.

Adolescence is a difficult time for many kids, and often lonely. Any friendship is potentially a source of comfort, joy, and growth—even if it’s over the Internet.

You’ve Unplugged. Now What? 6 Offline Activities to Keep Your Kids Off Their Screens

As schools, parks, and other physical spaces continue to be shut down or heavily restricted, most kids in the country are still stuck at home. One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems like there’s not much else to do but rotate between devices: Phone to laptop to gaming console and back. Understandably, parents are anxious about how much time their children are spending online. Is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it leading to depression? Firm rules and restrictions like the kind that Gryphon routers provide can help curb children’s Internet usage—but doing so brings up other problems.

The biggest of these is that often, parents simply block their children’s time online without providing them meaningful alternatives to the breadth of entertainment and interaction that the Internet can supply. The solution? Make your child’s physical spaces more attractive than their virtual ones! Give them opportunities to be creative, physical, social, or all three.

You might have to be more involved than you think in helping your kids discover their offline interests. Remember that video games and social media rely on their attention, and they’ve been manipulated into giving it. A lifetime of screens has dulled their instinct for creating their own fun. Take time to help them hone those instincts, so that they can transition into entertaining themselves without resentment or withdrawal. If you’re not sure where you’ll find the time for this, you could set limits on the social media apps on your phone, or even try setting up restrictions for yourself with Gryphon to free up a few extra minutes a day.

Continue to let your children have some time online throughout the week. As important as physical hobbies are, they still need a place where they can talk with their friends without risking their health. Even the most self-sufficient child will suffer when isolated from their peers for over a year. Plus, certain online activities and games can be just as mentally engaging as those in “real life”—we’ll put out a list of these soon!

For now, however, here are a few creative alternatives to screen time.

1. Journaling & Scrapbooking

Despite the name, social media isn’t appealing just for its social aspect. Apps like Facebook and Instagram are excellent spaces for recording daily life and reminiscing on our favorite moments. Humans are naturally compelled to create records of their existence (the earliest known diary dates back to around 2500 B.C.E.!) and children are no exception. Try giving your child a lined or blank notebook where they can write or draw about their day. They might also enjoy scrapbooking as a more public way to document their lives, and as a vehicle for their favorite photos. This will give them an outlet for recording their experiences without subjecting them to the pressure and anxiety that often accompanies posting on social media. 

2. Cooking

Teaching your children to cook—or at least letting them help with the prep work—is practical, fun, and healthy. It takes up time, mitigating boredom, and it’s always rewarding to eat a meal you worked hard to make! Since most parents do a good amount of cooking throughout the week anyway, this is also an activity you can do as a family without having to carve out extra time in your week. Some kids might prefer the precise nature of baking, some might prefer the space for experimentalism at the stove, and some might fall in love with both. See what works for them, and be patient if they miss a step or get frustrated at a failed attempt. Anyone can cook—all it takes is time and a little encouragement. Teach them some basics, like eggs, pasta, and fried rice, and then help them out with their favorite recipes. They can graduate to more complicated dishes with time, and who knows? Maybe they’ll even start out-cooking you. 

Cookbooks can be great to have around the house, but every recipe imaginable is just a quick Google away. You can also browse sites like Bon Appétit or Delish if you’re looking for inspiration. Tip: Print out the recipe so that you can keep your devices out of the kitchen!

3. Nature Walks

When the weather allows, nature walks or hikes are a wonderful way to keep kids busy and get them outside. Even the most well-trodden paths are more interesting when there’s new information available, so suggest researching local animals, plants, and trees, and help them identify those things with them during their walk. Walks are a great time for family bonding, and benefit parents as well as kids by improving circulation, lowering risk of heart disease, and increasing Vitamin D intake. This means that your whole household will be more energetic, less fatigued, and less likely to experience the muscle and joint pains that so often accompany a screen-locked, sedentary lifestyle. 

4. Skating or Cycling

Since the pandemic began and made team sports impossible, the number of people buying bikes, skateboards, and other sets of wheels has dramatically increased—and there’s a reason for that! These activities are physically challenging, super fun, and they look impressive. Children can start using skateboards and roller skates as young as five, bikes at three or four, and scooters at two—just make sure they’re properly equipped with a well-fitting helmet and joint pads. Even cautious or clumsy kids can become proficient on their wheels within a few days or weeks, depending on how often they’re able to practice. This one can be a little time-consuming if you have young children, but older kids and those with more experience need little to no supervision as long as they’re properly protected and understand the rules of the road.

5. Arts & Crafts

This is a very broad suggestion, and could cover anything from coloring books to LEGOs to macramé. That’s because there’s an infinite number of things to create and an infinite number of ways to create them! You may or may not consider your child “artistic,” but the truth is that all humans are creatively inclined. Give your kids opportunities to draw, sculpt, build, fold, knit, cut, paste, carve, sew, stamp, crochet—they’re bound to find something they enjoy. Some kids particularly love making things they can use or wear: Bracelets, earrings, storage boxes, coasters. Some like making things they can display: Calligraphy, embroidery, paintings. They can even make their own dolls and toys. Whatever they choose, help them focus on the fun of the activity rather than their skills. And if it’s a messy craft, give them a space where they can get messy! They can always clean up afterward.

6. Reading

It’s every parent’s dream to peek into their kid’s bedroom and see them reading a book instead of scrolling through their phone. But as we mentioned earlier, kids’ attention spans are shorter than ever, so don’t feel bad if you don’t currently have a little bookworm in your home. This doesn’t mean you can’t have one—kids today actually spend a lot of time reading already; they’re just usually absorbing memes and listicles rather than novels.

Here’s a really easy trick to get your child to read those books instead: Let them pick. Don’t push your favorite books from childhood, and don’t judge their choices! This can make them resistant to reading before they’ve even started. 

Instead, let your kid into a library or bookstore (whether online or masked at a brick-and-mortar), and allow them to pick up any age-appropriate book. And yes, this includes graphic novels and comic books. No need to worry about whether these count as literature—comic books have more rare words per every 1000 words than books written for adults. Plus, as Dr. Laura Jiménez of Boston University suggests, the medium of comics can “provide an entry point for struggling readers, challenge gifted readers, and help more students learn.” Other children retain information best aurally and will prefer to be read to; you can read to them yourself, or provide them with an audiobook.

Paperbacks and hardcovers make disconnecting easier, but most libraries aren’t open right now and books can be expensive, so if you’re worried about cost, check online to see if your local library has a lending app like Libby or Overdrive. You can then download the book or audiobook to a device and use your Gryphon router to block that device from using the WiFi, ensuring your child stays offline. Otherwise, check out thriftbooks.com for cheap used books. 


Some kids will become very invested in a one particular hobby very quickly. Others prefer to jump from activity to activity throughout the day. Again, figure out what works for them. Focus on their interests and help them explore and refine their own ideas for what their days should look like. This will make their devices that much less tempting.

Revel in their accomplishments, but make sure they know their hobbies are less about “getting good” and more about having fun, being creative, and staying healthy. If your child is having a difficult time being away from their devices, try decreasing their screen time week by week instead of taking most of it away at once. The more time they spend offline, the easier it will be to stay offline. 

And there are, of course, many activities that extend beyond this list. Pay attention to your child’s interests and encourage them in that direction, or do some more research and offer them other suggestions.

The most important thing is to make sure that as you use Gryphon to help your kids disconnect, there’s something else around for them to connect to. This way, with time, they’ll be happier, more present, and more energetic than they were when they were battling their boredom with the Internet alone.

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