Internet Parental Controls Start at Your Router

Router Parental Controls for Frustrated Parents

Router parental contols protect children
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As a parent, you value your time, and you probably don't want to spend that valuable time going to every one of your child's internet-connected devices to apply parental controls. It could take forever, especially if your kid has a cellphone, iPad, iPod touch, Nintendo DS, Kindle, and so on. 

When you block a site at the router, the block is globally effective across all the devices in your home, including yours. If you can successfully block access to a site such as YouTube, for example, at the router level, then it is blocked on all the devices in the home, no matter what browser or method is used in an attempt to access it.

Before you can block a site at your router, you must log in to your router's administrative console.

Log In to Your Router's Administrative Console

Most consumer-grade routers feature setup and configuration via a web browser. To access your router’s configuration settings, you usually need to open a browser window on a computer and enter the address of your router. This address is typically a non-routable IP address that can’t be seen from the internet. Examples of a typical router address include http://192.168.0.1, http://10.0.0.1, and http://192.168.1.1.

Check your router manufacturer’s website or the documentation that came with your router for details on what the default admin address is for the router. In addition to the address, some routers require connecting to a specific port to access the administrative console. Append the port to the end of the address if required by using a colon followed by the port number required.

After you enter the correct address, you are prompted for the administrator username and password. The default username and password should be available on the router maker’s website. If you changed it and can’t remember it, you may have to reset your router to its factory defaults to gain access via the default admin login. This is usually done by holding down a small reset button on the back of the router for 30 seconds or more, depending on the brand of router.

Go to the Access Controls or Firewall Configuration Page

After you gain access to the router, you need to locate the Access Restrictions page. It may be located on the Firewall page, but some routers have it in a separate area.

Steps for Blocking Access to a Specific Domain

All routers are different, and yours may or may not have the ability to set up router parental controls in an access restrictions section. Here is the general process for creating an access control policy to block your child’s access to a site. It may not be effective for you, but it's worth a try.

  1. Log in to your router's administrative console using a browser on your computer.
  2. Locate the Access Restrictions page.
  3. Look for a section named Website Blocking By URL Address or similarwhere you can enter a site’s domain, such as youtube.com, or even a specific page. You want to create an Access Policy to block the specific site you don't want your child to access.
  4. Name the access policy by entering a descriptive title such as Block Youtube in the Policy Name field and choose Filter as the policy type.
  5. Some routers offer scheduled blocking, so you could block a site between certain hours, such as those when your child should be doing homework. If you want to use the schedule option, set the days and times when you want the blocking to occur.
  6. Enter the site name you are interested in blocking in the Website Blocking By URL Address area.
  7. Click the Save button at the bottom of the rule.
  8. Click Apply to begin enforcing the rule. 

The router may state that it must reboot to enforce the new rule. It may take several minutes for the rule to be implemented.

Test the Blocking Rule

To see if the rule is working, attempt to go to the site that you blocked. Try accessing it from your computer and a couple of the devices that your child uses to access the internet, such as an iPad or game console.

If the rule is working, you should see an error when you attempt to access the site that you blocked. If the block doesn’t seem to be working, check your router manufacturer's website for troubleshooting help.

For more strategies for keeping your kids safe online, check out other ways to kid-proof your internet parental controls.