The finest parental control routers make it simple to keep your children safe while using any device that connects to your home Wi-Fi network. They are routers with parental control software built in to enable you to apply rules to all the devices on your home network, giving you control over everything your family views, rather than depending on just the safety settings or software on every item in your house. Many routers contain this feature, but it’s frequently difficult to identify or use, so our specialists have evaluated the most basic options.
According to our testers, the Synology RT2600ac is a superb, easy-to-use machine for most parents. If you’re satisfied with your present router but want to improve parental controls, Circle Home Plus is a decent, if pricey (you’ll have to pay a membership fee), solution that simply plugs into your existing network.
The finest routers in this category allow you to block certain websites and apply filters to material based on its kind and maturity level. Most allow you to set limits on how much time your children can spend on the internet and which services they can use., you may restrict access to instructional websites and prohibit gaming and video streaming during study hours.
Synology RT2600ac Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router
The Synology RT2600ac is a feature-rich router with good wifi range and security features for average-sized houses. Our product tester Jeremy said that this router is worth a look if you want something that’s straightforward to set up but has a lot of hidden potential beneath the hood. Best of all, the parental control capabilities are free to use and can be accessed through an app, so you won’t have to pay any membership fees to keep your children safe online with this router.
The RT2600ac is a dual-band Wi-Fi router, which means your family can connect to both wireless channels to prevent connectivity issues if you have a mix of older and modern electronics at home. This router also includes four antennae to maintain a robust Wi-Fi connection. This technology lets your devices communicate their position to your router, allowing it to provide quicker and more direct signals for activities like 4K Netflix streaming, gaming, and video chatting.
The RT2600ac, like other routers, comes with a mobile app and a website for configuring and administering the router. The online dashboard organises all of the choices into tiles and makes managing parental controls simple.
Begin by establishing separate accounts for your children, which will allow you to plan online hours, set time restrictions, and ban problematic information based on broad categories or particular websites. You may also create a set of basic filtering rules for your whole home network, as well as a separate set for your guest Wi-Fi network.
TP-Link Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router
If you have a small house and want to update your router, the TP-Link Archer AX50 provides excellent wireless performance. This router is equipped with Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, which is the most recent wireless technology. It simply means you get a quicker and more consistent connection, but both your router and your device (for example, your iPhone) must have Wi-Fi 6 capabilities built in. If you prefer to remain on top of the newest technology, this router provides a fast internet connection and advanced parental controls at a lower price than its rivals.
The AX50 comes with a free lifetime membership to the HomeCare parental control platform, thanks to the router manufacturer’s cooperation with Trend Micro (a computer security business). You may establish profiles for various family members, attach devices to each profile, and set filters and time limitations for each user or device using HomeCare.
For example, you may, for example, prevent your children from using their iPad to go online in the evenings while allowing them to use the family computer for schoolwork. You may also ban websites depending on their kind or target age group, and HomeCare keeps track of all the websites in each category to keep the list current.
HomeCare not only has parental controls, but it also has antivirus security to secure your home network from infection (malicious software that can contain viruses). You may set up this router via a web browser, but you’ll need to download the TP-Link Tether app to control the HomeCare functions.
Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System
A mesh Wi-Fi system, which combines numerous routers to construct a full system in your house, may be of interest if you require excellent Wi-Fi coverage across a large residence. The Netgear Orbi can cover a 5,000-square-foot area.
Setting up the Netgear Orbi was as simple as downloading an iOS app and scanning some QR codes, said our tester, Bill, who confirmed the system’s large coverage area and speed on multiple floors of his home. He was also impressed with how easy the system was to set up, saying, “Setting up the Netgear Orbi was as simple as downloading an iOS app and scanning some QR codes.”
Along with fast whole-house Wi-Fi, the Orbi also has some complex parental control features that you can manage using an app called My Time, which allows you to create profiles for each kid, instantly halt and resume their connection, and even establish bedtime regulations.
More extensive restrictions, such as use history and establishing timetables and time limitations for any online activity, are available, but they come with a $7.99 monthly subscription.
The Netgear Orbi is also a tri-band mesh Wi-Fi system, which means it broadcasts three separate frequencies to ensure that all of your devices stay connected. Older routers only have one band, which may cause congestion, but dual-band routers provide a second channel, removing the bottleneck.
Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System
The Eero Pro is a mesh Wi-Fi system, which means it employs a single Eero Pro unit as the core router and other Eero Pro devices (or beacons) around your home to provide extra coverage. Each beacon employs dual-band channels while the central station delivers tri-band Wi-Fi, or three Wi-Fi signals (one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands) (one 2.4GHz and one 5GHz).
When you connect a device to your network, numerous signals operate in the background to assist in spreading the traffic from your devices equitably. That means you shouldn’t have any problems with Wi-Fi signal losses or sluggish connections when you have a lot of devices connecting at the same time.
In a smaller house, the basic Eero unit may be sufficient, but if you need additional coverage, you may add multiple Eero units (Eero, Eero Pro, or Eero Beacon), which give 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of coverage. The Eero Beacons may be plugged into any power socket and can even be used as nightlights in your house.
According to our reviewer, the average download speed for the Eero Pro without beacons was 256Mbps. While this isn’t the fastest connection available, it’s more than enough for activities like gaming or streaming 4K movies.
The Eero Pro is also easy to use; the app provides step-by-step instructions for configuring the router, and controlling parental controls is equally straightforward. The basic Eero system enables you to create profiles for each family member in order to manage your children’s gadgets and limit their access to the internet.
For more sophisticated capabilities under the Eero Secure plan, you’ll have to pay a modest monthly membership charge. You’ll also get real-time website filtering if you subscribe, which allows you to restrict sites for each profile based on categories like adult, illegal, and violent material. For all of your devices, the premium plan also includes malware (virus) protection and ad-blocking (pop-up adverts in browsers).
Circle Home Plus
If you’re pleased with your current wireless network, you don’t need to purchase a new router to receive powerful parental controls. You may add extra content filtering to your home wifi with an add-on device like the Circle Home Plus, a tiny, independent machine that works with most home routers.
This little white cube plugs into an Ethernet connection on your current router and monitors your home network, blocking traffic from your children’s gadgets before it reaches your main router. Because the Circle Home Plus has a built-in battery and Wi-Fi, it will continue to operate even if your children disconnect it to circumvent parental restrictions. Even if you’re not at home, you’ll get a message if the router is disconnected.
The Circle mobile app allows you to check these alerts as well as all of the setup and administration settings. Many preset filters are organised into age-appropriate categories and services in this companion app. You might, for example, utilise the Pre-K option for younger children and the Teen setting for older children. Custom filters may be added to any category, and time limitations can be established for certain websites and services, such as YouTube.
“The filtering method works more dependably than any other filter I’ve experienced,” Erika, one of our testers, said. She also praised the history feature, stating that it “consolidates all of my adolescents’ internet behaviour into one convenient spot.”
Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router
You’ll need a specialised router like the Asus RT-AX88U if you have a gamer in your household. This Asus router uses the newest 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) technology, which makes it faster and more dependable than prior Wi-Fi routers.
This router’s highest download speed was 479Mbps, which is sufficient for lag-free gaming (without freezing or delays) as well as streaming and video calling in big households. To give you an idea, to surf the web, you’ll need at least 10Mbps and to stream Netflix, you’ll need at least 25Mbps.
There are eight Gigabit Ethernet ports on the RT-AX88U (ports capable of delivering 1,000 Gbps internet speeds). Connecting your gaming PC or consoles to your router might help you achieve the best possible performance if you have a very fast Gigabit Ethernet service (most people don’t, and you’ll pay more if you do).
Although the parental controls aren’t as flexible as those on other routers, you have enough choices to keep your kids safe online without paying for a subscription. While individual user accounts cannot be created to group devices, you may restrict access and establish time restrictions and schedules for each device. Adult websites, instant messaging and chat applications, streaming and entertainment sites, P2P (or peer-to-peer connections between two computers near one another) connections, and file transfer services such as WeTransfer are among the filters.
The Synology RT2600ac (see below) will meet the demands of most families that want parental controls without paying any fees, consistent Wi-Fi performance, and sophisticated router settings. The Netgear Orbi mesh system (see Amazon) is a whole-house router that has comprehensive parental control capabilities and quick coverage for a bigger home. When you buy a Circle Smart Parental Controls subscription, you also get a lot of control.