The 9 Best Parental Control Routers of 2022

Best routers to protect children from online threats and inappropriate content

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The best parental control routers make it easy to help your kids stay safe on any device connected to your home Wi-Fi network. Rather than relying on the safety settings of every gadget in your house, you can use routers with parental control software built-in. You can then apply rules for all the devices on your home network, giving you control over everything your family sees.

The best routers let you block specific websites and use filters to block content by type and maturity level. Most also let you limit and schedule how many hours your children can use the internet and which services they can use. For example, you could only allow access to educational websites and block gaming and video streaming activities during homework hours.

Below are the best parental control routers we've found on the market.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Synology RT2600ac Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router

4.5
Synology RT2600ac Wi-Fi Router

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sophisticated parental controls

  • Well-designed web interface

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to wall mount

The feature-packed Synology RT2600ac offers excellent wireless range for average-sized homes and great security features. And as our product tester noted, “This router is worth a look if you want something that’s easy to set up but hides a lot of hidden potential under the hood.” Best of all, the parental control features, which you can access via an app, are free to use—no need for a subscription.

The RT2600ac is a dual-band Wi-Fi router, which means if you have a mix of older and newer gadgets at home, your family can connect to both wireless channels to avoid connection problems. This technology allows your devices to report their location to your router so it can send faster and more direct signals for activities like 4K streaming on Netflix, gaming, or video calling. 

Like most routers, the RT2600ac offers both a mobile app and a website for setting up and managing the router. The web dashboard arranges all the options in tiles and is easy to use for handling parental controls.

Start by creating individual profiles for your kids to schedule online hours, set time limits, and block inappropriate content based on general categories or specific sites. You can also set up general filtering rules for your entire home network, plus another set for your guest Wi-Fi network.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC2600 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Tested by Lifewire

"The Synology RT2600AC has a great user interface that offers a lot of flexibility and control, but you can safely ignore a lot of the bells and whistles while setting up your network. The router supports MU-MIMO and automatic band steering, which helps ensure that your devices get the fastest connections possible." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Synology RT2600ac Wi-Fi Router

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best Value: TP-Link Archer AX50 AX3000 Dual Band Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 Router

TP-Link Archer AX50

TP-Link

What We Like
  • Free parental control subscription included

  • Advanced Wi-Fi 6 support

  • Supports time limits by user or device

What We Don't Like
  • Requires mobile app to configure parental controls

If you have a modest-sized home and you want to upgrade your router, the TP-Link’s Archer AX50 offers impressive wireless performance. This router comes with the latest wireless technology known as Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax. If you like to stay up to date with the latest technology, this router offers fast internet access and sophisticated parental controls at a price that’s more affordable than competitors.

The AX50 comes with a free lifetime subscription to the HomeCare parental controls platform. Through HomeCare, you can create profiles for different family members, assign devices to each profile, and set filters and time limits by users or devices.

For example, you could block your kids from getting online with their iPad in the evenings while still letting them use the family computer for homework. You can also block sites based on type and age group, and HomeCare monitors all the websites in each category. 

In addition to parental controls, HomeCare also offers antivirus protection to guard your home network against malware. While you can set up this router by logging in to the router in a web browser, you’ll need to download the TP-Link Tether app to manage HomeCare features.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: HomeCare, WPA3, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AX3000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 5

Best Mesh: Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System

4.5
Netgear Orbi RBK50 Mesh Wi-Fi System

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    4/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    4/5
What We Like
  • Full home coverage

  • Beautiful aesthetics

  • Sophisticated screen time controls

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Advanced parental controls require subscription

If you need strong Wi-Fi coverage throughout a large home, you might be interested in a mesh Wi-Fi system, which uses multiple routers to create a whole system in your house. The Netgear Orbi can cover an area of 5,000 square feet.

Along with fast whole-house Wi-Fi, the Orbi also supports some pretty advanced parental control settings that you can manage through an app called My Time that lets you set up profiles for each child, easily pause and restart their connection, and even set rules for bedtime.

There are several more advanced controls, including usage history and setting schedules and time limits for any internet activities, but be warned they require a monthly subscription.

The Netgear Orbi is also a tri-band mesh Wi-Fi system, which means it sends out three different signals to keep all your devices online without any trouble. Older routers use a single band, which can lead to congestion, while dual-band routers add another channel, so there isn’t a bottleneck.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Tested by Lifewire

"I tested the speed in several areas of my home—upstairs, downstairs, the backyard, and the basement. The only time I saw less than 290 Mbps is when I walked to a neighbor’s house. While the setup is simple, it did take the router a long time to finish its setup process; it took about five minutes to detect the satellite, where other mesh routers formed connections instantly. While the Orbi is more expensive than other mesh routers, the performance is worth the price." — Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System

Lifewire / Jordan Provost

Best for Small Homes: Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

4.3
Eero Pro kit with two Eero Beacons

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    3/5
  • Network Performance
    4/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Simple and intuitive app-based set up

  • Real-time content filtering and malware protection

  • Family profiles allow for scheduled access

What We Don't Like
  • Content filtering requires monthly subscription

  • Lacks PPPoE support

The Eero Pro is a mesh Wi-Fi system, which means it uses a single Eero Pro unit as the primary router and additional units (or beacons) throughout your house for extended coverage. The central station offers tri-band Wi-Fi or three Wi-Fi signals (one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands), and each beacon uses dual-band channels (one 2.4GHz and one 5GHz).

The main Eero unit may be all you need in a smaller home, but if you want more range, you can add more Eero units (Eero, Eero Pro, or Eero Beacon) which provide another 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of coverage. Bonus: The Eero Beacons plug into any wall outlet and even double as nightlights around your home.

Our reviewer noted the average download speed for the Eero Pro without beacons was 256Mbps. That’s not the fastest you can get, but it’s more than enough speed for activities like gaming or streaming 4K movies.

You’ll need to pay a small monthly subscription fee for more advanced features in the Eero Secure plan. If you subscribe, you’ll also gain real-time website filtering, a tool that lets you block sites for each profile based on categories such as adult, illegal, and violent content. The paid plan also comes with malware (virus) protection and ad-blocking. 

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: Eero Secure, WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Tested by Lifewire

"Eero Pro is possibly the easiest Wi-Fi mesh system you'll ever use. It works by creating profiles for each family member, assigning devices to those profiles, and then placing content blocks and scheduling internet pauses for your kids if you don’t want them getting online during homework time or in the middle of the night. Its biggest shortfall is its lack of connectivity options; it only has two Ethernet ports." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best Add-on: Circle Home Plus

3.3
Circle Home Plus
What We Like
  • Compact size

  • Individual profiles for each child

  • Works with your existing router

What We Don't Like
  • Must download parent and kid apps

  • Subscription required for full features

If you’re happy with the wireless router you already have, you don’t need to buy a new router to get advanced parental controls. You can purchase an add-on device like the Circle Home Plus. 

This small white cube connects to your existing router through an Ethernet port and monitors your home network to block traffic from your kids’ devices before it gets to your main router. If your kids unplug the device to try to get around parental controls, the Circle Home Plus will still work, thanks to a built-in battery and Wi-Fi. You’ll also receive a notification if the router’s unplugged, even if you’re away from home.

You can review these notifications and all the setup and management options through the Circle mobile app. This companion app offers many preset filters grouped into age-appropriate categories and services. You can also add custom filters and set time limits for specific websites and services, such as YouTube.

Our tester reported that “the filtering system works more reliably than other filters I’ve encountered.” She also appreciated the history tool, noting that it “puts all of my teens’ online activity in one easy-to-access location.”

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: N/A | Bands: N/A | MU-MIMO: N/A | Beamforming: N/A | Wired Ports: 1

"While the Circle Home Plus is easy to install, setup is tedious. I ended up needing very specific criteria for different devices. Overall, it took about three hours to set up how and when each of my teens could get on their consoles, computers, and phones. That said, this device is a reliable way to keep track of your kids' online activities." — Erika Rawes, Product Tester

Circle Home Plus

Lifewire / Erika Rawes

Best for Gaming: Asus RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

4.7
Asus RT-AX88U

Courtesy of Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    4/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Parental controls don't require a subscription

  • Eight Gigabit Ethernet Ports

What We Don't Like
  • No support for user profiles

If you have a gamer in your family, you need a specialty router like the Asus RT-AX88U. This Asus router comes with the latest 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) technology, so it’s quicker and more reliable than routers that use older Wi-Fi technology.

The RT-AX88U also houses eight Gigabit Ethernet ports (ports capable of delivering 1,000Gbps internet speeds). If you have a super-fast Gigabit Ethernet service (most people don't, and you'll pay extra if you do), hooking up your gaming PC or consoles to your router can help you get the best possible performance. 

The parental controls don’t provide as much flexibility as other routers, but you have enough options to keep your kids safe online without a subscription. While you can't set up individual user profiles to group devices, you can still restrict access and set time limits and schedules by device.

The filters include adult websites, instant messaging and communication apps, streaming and entertainment sites, P2P (or peer-to-peer connections between two computers near each other), and file transfer services like WeTransfer.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: RADIUS Server, WPA2, WPS, 802.1x Authentication | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 8

Tested by Lifewire

"I was able to get the RT-AX88U up and running in just a few minutes. The wizard took care of the basic setup quickly, allowing me to set a custom SSID and password and choose whether or not to combine the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks under a single SSID. Once I started testing, I was able to stream high-definition Netflix to two televisions on my network while someone else was gaming, and various other phones and tablets were in use without any stuttering or slowdown." — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Asus RT-AX88U

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best Budget: Asus RT-ACRH12 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO and Parental Controls

Asus RT-ACRH12 AC1200 Wi-Fi Router

Asus

What We Like
  • Great price

  • Solid performance and range

  • Parental controls don't require a subscription

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks more advanced protection features

The Asus RT-ACRH12 is a router that offers parental controls on a budget. This router provides strong wireless performance, too, in homes up to 3,000 square feet. 

It's fast enough that you’ll have no problem enjoying demanding online activities like streaming Hulu content in 4K, gaming, or keeping in touch with friends and family on online video chatting platforms like Zoom and Apple's FaceTime

Like other Asus routers, you can log in to your router through a web browser to set up and change settings. You can also manage most features from the mobile app. 

While you won’t see Asus’ more sophisticated AiProtection Pro security features on this device, parental controls include the ability to block specific websites, monitor your kids’ online activity, and set time limits. 

The RT-ACRH12 also comes with virtual private network (VPN) support, which means if you use a VPN service or you’re considering using one, this router can help hide your exact location and keep your internet activity more private.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC1200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: No | Beamforming: No | Wired Ports: 4

Best for Smart Homes: Google Nest Wi-Fi (2nd Generation)

4.4
Google Nest Wi-Fi (2nd Gen)

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Design
    5/5
  • Setup Process
    5/5
  • Connectivity/Ports
    4/5
  • Network Performance
    5/5
  • Software
    5/5
What We Like
  • Attractive and simple design

  • Point units double as smart speakers

  • Integrates with Google Home and Family Controls

What We Don't Like
  • No Ethernet ports on points

If your family already uses Google devices with Google Assistant for voice commands, and you’re looking for a Wi-Fi system for your whole house, Google’s Nest Wi-Fi could be a welcome addition to your home. 

Google Nest Wi-Fi is a mesh Wi-Fi system, meaning it comes with one central router and smaller companion devices, or access points, which you can place around your home. These access points extend your wireless network to cover even the largest homes. 

Nest Wi-Fi access points have another trick up their sleeves. In addition to adding around 1,500 square feet of wireless coverage, each access point can double as a Google Assistant smart speaker, letting you issue voice commands from anywhere in your home.

Those voice commands work with parental controls too, so when it’s time for the kids to go to bed or do their homework, you can say, “OK Google, pause the kids’ Wi-Fi.” Setting up the parental controls in the Google Home app is also straightforward, especially if you’re familiar with Google products.

The app walks you through the process of setting up your family Wi-Fi network, adding your kids' devices, restricting content by category, and setting schedules for online time.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Tested by Lifewire

"Setting up Google Nest was hassle-free. I tested reception in every room of the house and saw consistent performance across the board with only modest differences in speed. Even in my large backyard, I saw decent Wi-Fi speeds—approximately 75 feet away from either router. Gaming performance was also strong; I got a low ping (25-35ms) while using the Ethernet port and got about 10ms ping while using the Wi-Fi while playing the online game Rocket League on PC." — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Google Nest Wi-Fi

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best for Basics: Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Smart Wi-Fi Router

NETGEAR Nighthawk R7000
What We Like
  • Good 5GHz performance

  • Integrated Circle with Disney parental controls

  • Built-in OpenVPN Server

What We Don't Like
  • Limited range

  • Weaker 2.4GHz performance

Netgear’s Nighthawk R7000 is a well-rounded router for families who want to cover the basics of home networking while also having access to advanced parental controls. 

This Netgear router offers typical technical features like dual-band Wi-Fi (meaning you can connect your devices to the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi signals), so you’ll have no problem using it for streaming and gaming on multiple devices at once. The R7000 also comes with dynamic Quality of Service. This feature keeps an eye on all the internet traffic and eases congestion for certain activities that require faster speeds.

As a parental control router, the R7000 stands out for its built-in access to Circle Smart Parental Controls. This service provides some of the most advanced filtering features available on routers to monitor content for your children.

Use the Circle app on your mobile device to lock your kids’ devices altogether or monitor their screen time by applying filters for content based on what’s most appropriate for their age range, from Pre-K to Teen. However, if you want more advanced features, you need to purchase a Circle subscription.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC1900 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Final Verdict

For parents interested in parental controls without paying any fees, dependable Wi-Fi performance, and advanced router settings, the Synology RT2600ac (view at Amazon) will meet most families needs. If you’re looking for a router with advanced parental control features and fast coverage for a larger home, the Netgear Orbi mesh system (view at Amazon) is a great choice. It also comes with a lot of control when you purchase a Circle Smart Parental Controls subscription.

What to Look For in a Parental Control Router

Content and App Filtering

As the name implies, content filtering is a feature that enables your router to block certain things from passing through. Since everything that leaves your home network passes through your router, when a user on your network attempts to go to a filtered address, the router intercepts it and blocks access. 

A good parental control router will let you block traffic based on categories since it's not realistic for you to figure out every website that you want to block, especially since new sites (and threats) are popping up all the time. Instead, the heavy lifting is done by the router manufacturer or a third-party service provider, which maintains massive lists of the sites that fall into each category. This allows you to simply check off boxes to allow appropriate educational and kids sites and services or deny access to more adult-themed sites.

Dynamic Filtering

While almost all parental control routers will let you block a website based on its address, some of the best ones go the extra mile and provide the ability to dynamically block websites based on what's actually on them. So, for example, a website that contains a lot of explicit language or extreme graphic content would be blocked even if the website address isn't on the blocked list.

Since even the best parental control services can't keep up with adding every new website to their lists as soon as they pop up on the internet, dynamic filtering adds an extra layer of protection against those sites that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks. 

Screen Time Controls

A good parental control router isn't just about what your kids can access but also about when they can access it. Some of the better parental control routers also offer the ability to limit how long your kids can access various sites and services, rather than simply letting you set a schedule. 

FAQ
  • How are parental control routers different from installing parental control software on your kids' tablets or PCs?

    Parental control routers limit the websites and services your kids can access from any device on your home network. For this reason, they offer an easy way to keep your kids away from sensitive content without installing parental control software on every one of their devices. However, a parental control router won't let you manage screen time by device or what apps your kids can install and use offline. To supervise as much activity as possible, you may want to consider combining a parental control router with features like Digital Well-Being on Android devices or screen time on iPhones and iPads.

  • How do you keep your kids from bypassing parental controls?

    The parental controls you set on your router are only as strong as the administrator password. If you use cable internet, you may also need to lock up your router to prevent a teenager from plugging directly into your cable modem and avoiding any parental controls you set up. Lastly, keep in mind that a parental control router only secures your kids’ activity over your home Wi-Fi network. If your kids have smartphones, you'll need to use other methods to control what they can access over the cellular network.

  • What happens as my kids get older?

    If you have kids of varying ages, or you want to buy a solution that will grow with your kids, you'll want to look at something that also provides age-appropriate filtering categories, rather than just a generic list of "kids" sites and apps. After all, there are lots of sites that may be perfectly OK for a teenager that you definitely wouldn't want your four-year-old accessing.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. 

Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair that has taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. He specializes in VPNs, antivirus, and home electronics, including parental control routers.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They tested the Netgear Orbi on this list and liked that the company's partnership with Disney allowed for robust parental controls on the router.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. He tested the Nest Wi-Fi router on our list and appreciated its large coverage area and integration features for smart home devices.

Erika Rawes is a tech reviewer that's been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She has previously been published in Digital Trends and USA Today, and she specializes in consumer technology, such as parental control routers.

Was this page helpful?