The 10 Best Parental Control Routers of 2020

Protect your children from online threats and inappropriate content

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Asus AC3100 at Amazon

"One of the fastest, most capable routers, comes with dual-band functionality, allowing for maximum speeds up to 2.1Gbps."

Best Budget: Linksys AC1750 at Amazon

"A dual-band wireless router that delivers speeds up to 1.7Gbps."

Best Mini: Router Limits Mini at Amazon

"Plugs into the back of your router and acts as an intermediary between your children’s devices and the Web."

Best for Any Age: Circle with Disney at Amazon

"If you want to filter online content, you’ll find a variety of preset filters based on age."

Best for Performance: Gryphon Secure Mesh System at Amazon

"A surprising amount of power for a home router, with mesh tri-band Wi-Fi and performance to spare"

Best for Smart Home: Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 at Amazon

"Arguably the most important feature is its support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant."

Best for Privacy: Syfer Unlimited Smart VPN Router at Amazon

"Offers a secure VPN and advanced intrusion protection system to keep your family safe from hackers, viruses, and malware."

Best for Security: Symantec Norton Core at Amazon

"Promises the most advanced security features in the router business, including software to keep hackers out of your home."

Best for Multiple Devices: Netgear R7000P Nighthawk AC2300 at Amazon

"Has five Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB ports to attach a storage drive."

Best for Simplicity: Koalasafe Dome at Amazon

"A simple Wi-Fi router that makes it easy to set up a restricted Wi-Fi network just for your kids."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Asus AC3100

The Asus AC3100 is one of the fastest, most capable routers and comes with dual-band functionality, allowing for maximum speeds up to 2.1Gbps. And since it has four antennas that all aim at optimizing coverage, Asus promises 5,000 square feet of coverage with the unit.

Inside, you’ll find a 1.4GHz dual-core processor that helps to facilitate fast USB data transfers when you connect storage units to the AC3100. Additionally, all eight of the AC3100’s LAN ports on the back support Gigabit networking, so you should expect fast connections when you wire computers, game consoles and other hardware to the router.

A feature called AiProtection is baked into the Asus AC3100 that handles all parental controls. From there, you can quickly choose from pre-set options to filter all content that you might consider inappropriate. In order to allow it again, you’ll need to log in to the router’s AiProtection pane and change your settings.

The Asus AC3100 is high-end in every way. Its built-in MU-MIMO feature means you’ll always be able to take advantage of the fastest possible connection from any device and a built-in game acceleration feature will optimize video game traffic over your network. There’s even an ASUS Router App to help you keep a close eye on everything happening on your network.

Best Budget: Linksys AC1750

Since routers with complete and total parental control functionality can be a bit pricey, the Linksys AC1750, which isn’t exactly cheap, leads our group of more affordable options on the market.

The AC1750 is a dual-band wireless router that delivers speeds up to 1.7Gbps. It also comes with a MU-MIMO feature that can identify the maximum speeds each device connecting to the network can handle and delivers that every time. Linksys didn’t say exactly how far its AC1750’s coverage will span but promises “complete coverage” in smaller homes.

One of the AC1750’s secret ingredients is a Wi-Fi app that you can run on your iPhone or Android-based handset. The app gives you access to a variety of features, including the ability to create guest Wi-Fi networks, set passwords and prioritize traffic to specific devices. The Smart Wi-Fi App, as its known, is also home to the router’s parental controls. From there, you can quickly choose the kind of content that’s allowed over the network and all the sites that won’t be allowed.

Best Mini: Router Limits Mini

If you’re in the market for parental controls and don’t necessarily want to spend hundreds on a new router that would come with the features, there are some options. Chief among them is Router Limits Mini, a small device that connects to your existing router and gives you complete control over the content that flows through your home network.

Router Limits Mini plugs into one of the LAN ports on the back of your router and acts as an intermediary between your children’s devices and the Web. Since it’s not a router itself, the Router Limits Mini won’t let you enhance speed or improve coverage. It will, however, give you full control over your network.

For instance, from the Router Limits Mini, you can set a schedule that will allow certain devices on your network to connect or disconnect at specific times. You can also pause Internet connectivity at any time if the kids aren’t behaving and a filter feature lets you see what’s happening on the network. You can even lock Internet searches, so devices on the network can only connect via Google SafeSearch, Bing SafeSearch and YouTube Restricted Mode.

Best for Any Age: Circle with Disney

Circle with Disney is another option for parents who don’t necessarily need a new router but want to add parental controls to an existing network.

The small, white cube plugs into your router to monitor the connection between the Internet and the devices in your home. Once connected, you’ll need to download the Circle with Disney app to your iPhone or Android device. That app gives you control over everything happening on your network and lets you filter online content and see who’s on the Internet at any given time.

If you want to filter online content from Circle with Disney, you’ll find a variety of pre-set filters based on age. So, if your five-year-old is connecting to your network from an iPad, perhaps that tablet should have use the Pre-K setting. But if your teen wants to access websites, a Teen setting might be suitable. There’s also an Adult option, so your own devices can see anything and everything.

If those pre-determined filters don’t fit the bill, custom filters can also be created. And just in case your kids are spending too much time online, you can configure the Circle with Disney to turn off Internet access to certain devices at preset times.

Best for Performance: Gryphon Secure Mesh System

What We Like
  • Mesh Tri-Band Wi-Fi offers whole home coverage

  • Fast and powerful CPU

  • Easy setup with smartphone app

What We Don't Like
  • Malware protection requires a subscription

  • Expensive

  • Lacks advanced configuration settings

Gryphon’s Secure Mesh System is one of the more unique-looking routers we’ve seen, with a white tower design that includes a stylish twist that makes it something you might want to show off in your kitchen or den rather than hiding it away in the computer room. 

There’s more to this router than just looks, though. It packs in a surprising amount of power for a home router, with mesh tri-band Wi-Fi — one 2.4 GHz and dual 5 GHz channels — that’s rated at AC3000 and includes MU-MIMO for connecting multiple devices at peak performance. This offers coverage for a 3,000 square foot living space, and since it’s a mesh router you can add another one to double that if you've got a bigger home.

You’ll need to use your smartphone to set up the Gryphon, but it also makes the process really easy, letting you configure the router and enable malware protection and parental controls all in one place. You’ll need to subscribe to keep the malware protection, but the parental controls are free and let you organize your family devices into categories to control what each one can access. As a parent you’ll be able to limit screen time, set bedtimes and homework times, and grant extensions to these restrictions when necessary, all using the Gryphon app from anywhere you happen to be.

Best for Smart Home: Netgear Nighthawk AC1900

Netgear’s Nighthawk AC1900 is a dual-band Wi-Fi router that can deliver speeds up to 1.3Gbps. It also comes with a dynamic quality-of-service (QoS) feature that helps you prioritize bandwidth across your network to optimize quality for gaming and streaming video. A Beamforming+ feature is available to boost your range and cover most small houses.

Arguably the Nighthawk’s most important feature is its support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With those virtual personal assistants in the mix, you’ll be able to control your home network with only voice commands.

Interestingly, the Netgear Nighthawk AC1900 also comes with Circle with Disney parental controls. With that feature, you can download the Circle with Disney app to your iPhone or Android device and control when your kids can access the Internet and what they can see when they’re online. There’s even a pause button to stop your kids from access the Internet at any given time.

Best for Privacy: Syfer Unlimited Smart VPN Router

What We Like
  • Intelligent AI malware protection

  • Sets up a secure VPN

  • Plug-and-play configuration

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t work with modem/router combos

  • Requires monthly subscription

  • Lacks ability to set time limits

Syfer’s Unlimited Smart VPN Router is a great solution if you already have a good router and aren’t looking to replace it. Syfer plugs into the connection in between your router and your modem and automatically sets up a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) between you and the rest of the internet. This does mean it won’t work with a modem/router combo, but security-conscious users should be using a separate router anyway.

Once installed, Syfer ensures that your internet traffic stays private from your ISP and others along the way, promising that it doesn’t log or track your activity either. In addition to a robust set of parental controls, an intelligent firewall and advanced intrusion protection system will keep viruses, trojans, ransomware, and other malware out of your home network. A built-in ad blocker prevents you from being tracked by ad networks, and Google’s Safe Search and YouTube content filtering keeps your kids away from the darker corners of the internet. 

While Syfer offers a great set of privacy and security controls thanks to its built-in VPN, it doesn’t come cheap, and after the free one-year trial of Syfer’s VPN service runs out, you’ll also find yourself paying $10/month to keep it running. There’s also a slight performance hit to using it; streaming 4K video should be fine, but the added latency may impact online gaming. 

Best for Security: Symantec Norton Core

If security is your chief concern when surfing the Internet, the Symantec Norton Core secure Wi-Fi router might be the best option for you.

The first thing you’ll notice about the router is its shape. Instead of a box with antennas sticking out, the Norton Core is an oddly shaped globe that beams wireless access around the home. Whether that design causes some problems with range is unknown, however, since Symantec didn’t share average coverage.

You’ll find two USB 3.0 ports on the rear of the Core Secure, along with four Gigabit Ethernet ports for plugging devices directly into the unit. With a smartphone app that runs on Android and iOS, you can see who’s on your network and control everything from Wi-Fi settings to parental controls.

Speaking of parental controls, the Norton Core promises the ability to set time limits for your kids to access the Internet and the option to filter certain types of content you deem inappropriate. You can also use the app to see what your kids are doing at any given moment.

The Norton Core ships with what Symantec says, is the most advanced slate of security features in the router business, including software that performs “deep packet inspection” and “intrusion detection” to keep hackers out of your home.

Best for Multiple Devices: Netgear R7000P Nighthawk AC2300

The Netgear R7000P Nighthawk AC2300 is a fast, dual-band router that can deliver speeds up to 1.6Gbps. It also supports MU-MIMO to maximize bandwidth to the devices on your network and not allow older and slower products to bog down everything else.

On the rear, the Netgear AC2300 has five Gigabit Ethernet ports, along with two USB ports to attach a storage drive and store content from all the products connected to your network. With some help from the router’s Dynamic Quality-of-Service and Beamforming+ technology, you should be able to take advantage of improved streaming of large files, such as 4K video.

Once you’re ready to configure your network with parental controls, you’ll find that's possible with built-in Circle with Disney. After downloading the Disney Circle app to your iPhone or Android device, you can create time limits that will govern when and for how long your kids can access the Internet. A "Bedtime" feature will turn off your children’s access to the Internet at night, and a filters option will let you decide what kind of content should be allowed through your network. 

Best for Simplicity: Koalasafe Dome

What We Like
  • Simple and easy to use

  • Supports multiple devices

  • Two scheduling levels

What We Don't Like
  • Poor Wi-Fi range

  • Can’t set time limits for individual services

  • Creates a second Wi-Fi network

Koalasafe’s Dome is a little router designed specifically for parents and kids, so rather than replacing your existing router, it’s plugs into it and sets up a separate Wi-Fi network for your kids to use. Parents and other family members who want unrestricted internet access connect to the main Wi-Fi, which the kids don’t get the password to, forcing them to use Koalasafe’s network instead.

Using the Koalasafe app, parents can set up schedules for internet access to filter the content their kids can access during certain times of the day for each of their devices. For example, you can limit access to certain sites on a computer during homework time and enforce “lights-out” for the iPad at bedtime. Although Koalasafe doesn’t let you limit the amount of time spent using specific online services, such as limiting your kids to only an hour on Netflix, the ability to configure two different filtering schedules makes up for this a bit, and on top of it, everything that passes through the Koalasafe Dome gets logged, so you’ll know where your kids are going.

While the second-generation Koalasafe Dome promises Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1,300 Mbps, you probably won’t get anywhere near this unless you’re sitting on top of the router, and if you’ve got a multi-storey home you may even need to buy a Wi-Fi range extender, especially if you have a lot of devices on your network.

Tested by

What to Look for in a Secure Router

Range - One of the most critical factors to consider when purchasing a router is whether or not it’ll be able to blanket your entire home in Wi-Fi. Before purchasing your router, be sure to check its specifications to get a better understanding of whether it’s appropriate for your property.

Mobile Apps - Having a router with parental controls can feel like a relief for parents, but it isn’t much good if you can’t control those settings with ease. Check to see whether the router you’re looking to purchase has a mobile app for quickly controlling it from your smartphone.

Security - Protecting your children with parental controls is a significant first step, but the second is to ensure the network itself is secure. Some routers offer enhanced security features like firewalls, anti-malware protection, and more to keep your entire home safe.

Test Results: Asus AC3100 (Best Overall)

4.6
What We Like
  • Great range

  • Fast speed

  • Easy to connect devices

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier

  • Antennas too tall

Asus AC3100
Asus
Asus AC3100 router
Asus AC3100 wireless router
Asus wireless router

This router came highly-rated by our testers for its “surprisingly simple” setup, easy connectivity, and efficiency. The only real downside of this router, according to one of our reviewers, was that its antennas were too tall: “My cable line is in my living room and I rest it on a shelf,” he explained, “and I wish it were a little flatter so I could hide it a little better.”

Interested in reading more?

Take a look at our ultimate router buying guide.