It is not possible for every parent to constantly shield and control what their kids may be exposed to online. It is also not reasonable to stop your kids from going online by implementing excessive internet access controls. However, this does not undermine the necessity to implement parental controls which can ensure that the kids do not come across any uncensored content. The best way to do this is by setting up internet access control mechanisms through your router.
Parental & Internet Access Control comprises a set of tools that help parents manage the devices that their kids uses to access the web. Parental controls can be set at different levels of the network including the device itself. However, they are commonly implemented at the home router level. If you have any queries regarding blocked internet you can check out our questions and answers on internet access blocked.
Apart from controlling the content that your kids access online, parental controls can also decide the time at which they access the content. They block as well as filter content that is not appropriate for your kids’ age and also selectively allows (or block) games and apps. Parental controls can also be used to set up different profiles for each family member to make sure that they have their age-appropriate access only.
Your home router is designed to function as a central choke point. All the traffic from the internet flows through this router. Therefore, if you set up parental or internet access control in this component of the network, you can carry out effective web filtering for all the devices connecting to your network. Irrespective of whether the device is a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, or even gaming consoles, you can easily implement and track parental controls.
Before you begin, make sure that you have thoroughly read your router’s manual. The first step is to log into your router’s main administrative console. This can be done using a web browser on a computer or a laptop. Enter your router’s IP address to access its configuration settings. Depending on the type of router you have, you may be required to connect to a particular port for accessing the administrative console.
Once you have entered the router’s address you will be required to enter a username and password. Once again, the manufacturer’s website can provide you with the default username and password. Or you can enter using your preset password and username.
While most routers come with a feature to set up parental controls, there are some that do not have any such provisions. In case you cannot directly set up the parental controls in your router, you have to create an access control policy.
After you have logged into your router’s administrative console, go to the ‘Parental Control’ or ‘Access Restrictions’ page. Depending on the make of your router, you will come across a ‘Website Filtering’ or a ‘Website Blocking by URL Address’ icon. This allows you to create webpage specific policies for establishing internet access controls with regard to your kids’ access. You can enter descriptive text in the ‘Policy Name’ space and also select a ‘Filter’.
You can also block a particular website during specific hours daily. This is known as ‘Schedule Blocking’ and some routers support this setup. After you have entered the name of the website that you want to be blocked in the spaces mentioned in step #4, you can save the settings and press apply for the rules to be enforced. Once this is done, reboot the router and test whether the blocking rule is working or not.
The following 3-line items are effective ways of implementing internet access control in a proper manner.
Scheduling internet browsing times can help you enforce internet access control automatically. The internet network can be enabled or disabled at a set time daily. Depending on your router’s capabilities, you can also schedule different times for different devices connecting to your network. Scheduling internet browsing is a flexible way to provide your kids with enough internet access without disturbing their daily routines like sleep times or mealtimes. Once you have set a daily time limit on the internet, the kids will not be able to access the web from their device after this time.
If you are not comfortable setting up specific restrictions or schedules, you can practice pausing the internet on your router as and when required. This can be useful if you have very young children and want to distract them for some time only.
For instance, if you want your kids to stop accessing the internet for some time of the day, you can just pause the internet connection using your router. There is no need to go through all the steps of establishing policies or setting restrictions and parental controls.
Mesh networks like Google WIFI and most high-end routers come equipped with companion management apps. These can help parents in pausing the connection for different devices that are connected on the home network.
Internet access control on certain websites must be implemented along with scheduling internet browsing. While some routers come with inbuilt parental control features for blocking pornographic sites, you can enable parental control for pornographic websites using your router.
You can do this by listing down the websites that you want to be blocked on your kids’ device and follow the steps listed above. Some routers help you perform website access control with their own app to help you establish custom filters. Whichever method you deploy, controlling access from the router can help you keep your child safe from adult content.
Adding router control need not be a complicated and time-consuming process. Even if your existing router does not have inbuilt parental control features, you can still implement access controls safe enough for your kids to browse the internet in a more controlled environment. There are plenty of add-on router accessories to help you achieve this. Using them you cannot just set parental controls on your router, but you can also implement internet access control on your kids’ device.
Most routers today come with pre-built parental control features. They are easy to understand and are usually explained at length in the accompanying manual. However, even if your router does not include built-in parental control features, you can implement the same as a one-time activity to ensure that your children do not access any unsafe content.
Having said that, it must be remembered that no parental controls are exhaustive and perfect. They may end up blocking something good or may not block every unsafe content. Also, different routers come with different features, hence, your settings must be implemented in accordance with the manual or the manufacturer’s instructions.