How to Set Up and Use Parental Controls on your Router

Learn how to block certain websites via your router

As a parent, you value your time, and you probably don't want to spend it going to every one of your child's internet-connected devices to apply parental controls. When you block a site at the router, the block is globally effective across all devices in your home, including yours.

If you can successfully block access to a site such as YouTube at the router level, for example, it's blocked on all the devices in the home, no matter which browser or method is used to access it.

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 router's address. 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 to find the default admin address.

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.

After you enter the correct address, you're 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 router's brand.

How to Block 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.

  1. Log in to your router's administrative console using a browser on your computer.

  2. Locate the Access Restrictions page or the Parental Controls page, if you have one.

    It may be located on the Firewall page, but some routers have it in a separate area.

    You can find Parental Controls under the Firewall Settings of an Arris router
  3. Look for a section named Website Blocking By URL Address, Website Filtering, or similar where 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 visit.

    Use website filtering to block access to certain sites via your router
  4. If prompted, 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 can block a site between certain hours, like 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're interested in blocking in the Website or Website Blocking By URL Address area.

  7. Click the Save or Add button at the bottom of the rule.

  8. Click Apply to begin enforcing the rule if needed. 

The router may need to reboot to enforce the new rule. It may take several minutes.

Test the Blocking Rule

To see if the rule is working, go to the site you blocked. Try accessing it from your computer and from a couple of the devices 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 blocked site. If the block isn't 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.