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.
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.
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
-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.
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.
Best Wi-Fi Router for Parental Controls | Home Network Geek
Parental Control Apps and Devices | Fatherly
Ultimate Guide to Parental Controls | Common Sense Media