How to set up and use your Wi-Fi router’s parental controls

Ry Crist/CNETHow to set up and use your Wi-Fi router's parental controls

We’ve never depended on home’s internet connections more than during

the ongoing pandemic

, but that’s left a lot of parents concerned about keeping their kids safe online. Fortunately,

your Wi-Fi router

can help by managing who has access to what online content, and when. You just need to be willing to dig through the settings a bit.

Every router is different, so you’ll want to consult your model’s manual for specifics, but here’s an overview of what features to look for, and how to best put them to use.

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Setting up parental controls on your Wi-Fi router

Before you can customize and manage your home’s internet connection, you’ll need to access your router’s settings. Most recent models offer companion apps that allow you to connect with your router and tweak settings to your liking.

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Apps like those are a good starting point, and many will offer some basic level of parental controls that you can experiment with — but if you really want to open up the hood and see your router’s full allotment of settings, you’ll want to connect using your computer.How to set up and use your Wi-Fi router's parental controls

To start, open your preferred web browser on your computer and type your network IP address into the address bar. By default, most routers use 192.168.1.1 as the IP address. If that doesn’t work for you, you can look up your IP address by right-clicking on your internet icon and looking for details or settings.

For Mac users, the IP address can be found by clicking your Wi-Fi symbol, then scrolling down to click on Open Network Preferences.

Once you’ve typed your IP address into the address bar, you’ll need credentials to edit settings. Some routers have this information printed on the router itself or in the user manual or manufacturer website. You might have also picked out credentials of your own when you first set up your router. If you can’t remember the login info, you’ll usually be able to find it and change it in the router’s app.

Once you’ve logged in or accessed settings, there are a

number of ways to customize internet browsing

, depending on your specific router’s features.

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Add a router accessory

If you love the router you already own but want to add parental controls, there are add-on devices out there to help. Plug-in modules like the Circle Home Plus connect to your router and manage internet access and rules for multiple connected devices.

Some devices and apps can even budget a certain number of minutes to each device, then allow children to earn more internet time by doing chores around the house. That’s a great way to teach children to responsibly manage and balance their screen time without a parent wrenching the device out of their hands.

When you’re customizing your router settings or adding on a device to manage access, it’s important to take steps to keep everyone safe on the internet. For parents looking for more guidelines on internet browsing, screen time and keeping kids safe, there are a number of online resources, including Connectsafely.org and Family Online Safety Institute.How to set up and use your Wi-Fi router's parental controls

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