All parents in today’s world have to pay close attention to what their children are seeing or doing online. The most effective way to do this is to use the best parental control router on the market.
For some networks, this might mean filtering content strictly while for others it might be setting hard time limits and disabling the router at night.
It is important to decide what kinds of parental controls will help your network the most.
You must not buy the first router that claims to have parental controls, however. Instead, you need to know what routers will really protect you.
Features The Best Router For Parental Controls Should Have
The most important feature that you need to concern yourself with when it comes to parental control routers is the content filtering. When you filter your network’s content, you can limit what types of videos or websites are accessible.
The best routers will allow you to identify which devices need the strongest filters in place, so that the devices that the children have access to will be completely safe for them to use.
Time Limits & Internet Access Scheduling
Another feature that you will need to look for is time limit and time control. When you limit a device’s internet time, it will turn itself off when a certain amount of time quota has been met for the day.
If you want your child to only have an hour of screen time, then only an hour is permitted. You can also use the same type of setting to disable the router during certain hours, including night time.
Mobile App Control
Mobile app control is where you can control your router’s settings through your smartphone. This is especially handy if you need to remotely lockdown your router.
It can allow you to disable the router more covertly, so that the internet will not work on certain devices, but you do not need to get up to do anything. It also means that you can control what is going on in your network even when you are not physically there.
View Site History Usage
You should also make sure that your router allows you to view site history usage. This will allow you to see which websites are getting the most attention within the network and how much time is spent on them.
For children, this can monitor how much time they spend online gaming or on social media. You can also confirm what times of day that the internet is being used, allowing you to set better time limits.
7 Best Parental Control Routers (2019)
1. Netgear R7000
2. Asus RT-AC88U
3. TP-Link Archer A7
4. Circle Home Plus
5. Linksys Velop Mesh
6. Bitdefender Box 2
7. KoalaSafe Router
1. Netgear Nighthawk R7000 Smart WiFi Router
Best Router For Parental Controls (Editor's Choice)
Our choice for the best parental control router is the Netgear Nighthawk R7000. The R7000 works well as a standard router and it comes with all of the parental controls that you might want.
Starting with its appearance, the R7000 is a horizontal router with three high-gain antennas. You can move the antennas toward the devices that need them the most. The shape is a little bit bulky and does take up a lot of space on your desk.
Looking at the security for the R7000, you can use the OpenVPN Connect App. The app allows you to have access to the network remotely to observe your network’s activity. The router also uses Amazon Alexa voice controls.
Beyond the USB 3.0 port, you will get 4 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports to hardwire in anything that you need to.
The router supports WPA2 wireless security protocols, has guest WiFi access, a firewall, a VPN, and QoS. The Netgear Armor will protect your network from malware and viruses as well, but that is a paid subscription.
The R7000 has a 1 GHz dual-core processor as in addition to a Beamforming+ feature that adds more power to your antennas.
The reach of your network is extended this way as well. Another feature with this router is the dynamic QoS, so you can prioritize which devices should get the best bandwidth.
You can have up to 30 devices connected at one time with the R7000, which should work for most homes. The router also features is the ReadySHARE Vault that provides an automatic backup to your USB 3.0 port.
2. Asus RT-AC88U Wireless Router
The best router for parental controls that is also high performance is the Asus RT-AC88U. This is a state-of-the-art router that comes with a lot of great security features.
The design of the Asus router is larger than the average router. It does take up a lot of room. You will need to make sure that it is in a well-ventilated area to prevent it from overheating.
It has four high gain antennas that can be directed away from the router in the places you would like them to go.
This router also comes protected with Asus Protection powered by Trend Micro. This ensures that your online experience is safe and secure.
The system combines automatic vulnerability detection, malicious site blocking, as well as the much-needed parental controls. You can restrict your network however much you need to.
The router can cover up to 5000 square feet making it ideal for larger homes that need coverage. It is not made to be expanded like a mesh network can be, but instead it just has a long reach.
With the 8 Gigabit ports, however, you do have a lot of connectivity options with your router. The powerful 1.4 GHz dual-core processor allows for faster USB data transfers and upload speeds up to 1.8 Gbps.
The router has high speed bands, with the 5 GHz band reaching speeds up to 2100 Mbps and the 2.4 GHz band gets up to 1000 Mbps. Combined that gives you speeds up to 3100 Mbps. The Smart Connect feature is there to automatically choose the best band available for you as well, to keep everything running smoothly.
3. TP-Link Archer A7 Smart WiFi Router
Perfect router with parental controls that works within a budget is the TP-Link Archer A7. This is an all-around great choice for the best router for parental controls.
The Archer A7 is a flat-sitting router, like most are. It has three high-performance antennas for enhanced signal strength. The router does have basic parental controls included with it, or you can pay $50 a year for the more enhanced options, such as setting screen time limits.
The Archer A7 router comes with 4 x 1-Gigabit ports, which will allow devices to be plugged into the router directly rather than wirelessly. This is best for the devices that cannot suffer a break in connection for any reason, giving them a direct link to the router.
It has an easy set up and is simple to manage as well. It works with Alexa voice control if you use that.
The Archer A7 is a dual band router. The 2.4 GHz band gives you 450 Mbps while the 5 GHz provides 1,300 Mbps, but the two work together to give you decent download speeds. It is also made to support up to 50 wireless devices.
The Archer A7 router has QoS technology as well to help with bandwidth prioritization. This will give the devices that need more bandwidth the first dibs on it. It also comes with 4K HD streaming capabilities for online streaming of both videos and gaming.
The Archer A7can reach up to 2,500 square feet in range, covering the average home network with ease. Additionally, the router can reach speeds up to 1750 Mbps, providing 3X faster Wi-Fi than the standard router does.
4. Circle Home Plus Parental Controls
The best add-on device for parental controls is the Circle Home Plus. This works in addition to working with your existing modem and router. This is not a router and cannot be used to replace one.
The design of the Circle Home Plus is appealing and easy to miss if you were not looking for it. It is a small white cube that is easy to hide anywhere in your home, as long as it is connected to your router or modem.
This add-on device can be used to customize profiles by adjusting individual family member’s settings to give the most appropriate online access. It is more likely that you would use this feature on your children’s devices, but it can work for any device.
The Circle Home Plus allows you to set time limits, bedtime, scheduling a shut off time, and content filters. You can also monitor usage to see how much time is spent online from each profile. The more enhanced options require a subscription at $10 a month, however.
The Circle Home Plus does not perform like a router and cannot be judged next to them. For an add-on device, it performs very efficiently, filtering web content without a hitch. Its job is to protect your network and it does that well.
The Circle Home Plus adds more content filtering, monitor internet usage, and to allow you to control how your children experience the internet and online services.
It will cover every device within the network as well, so you can still have an added layer of protection, regardless of whether you are limiting the whole network or a single device.
5. Linksys Velop Mesh Network Router
If you are working with an extended network, we suggest the Linksys Velop Mesh Network. This is a great mesh system that still comes with more enhanced parental control options.
The Velop access points are all towers with white casings, which make it really easy to blend into the home. The mesh system is available to purchase in 1, 2, or 3 packs.
There is no limit on how many points you can have in your network and the network can always been extended by purchasing another one.
Additionally, the antennas within this router are entirely internal, so they do not visibly poke out. They do have high-powered amplifiers to ensure that the coverage is as much as you need.
The setup of the router is simple, because it uses the Linksys App to get it up and going. Maintenance updates have to happen through the app as well and cannot be done through a connected computer’s browser. The app needs to be utilized.
Velop is a high performing router. It is a tri-band router with one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands. This will keep the traffic down along your wireless bandwidth and keep your speeds up as high as they can go. You also get 4K streaming for gaming and videos.
The coverage of the Velop system is fantastic. Each point that you get provides 2,000 square feet in coverage. With two, you will get 4,000 square feet, and so on as you add on points, which is ideal for larger or uniquely shaped spaces than need a better router.
6. Bitdefender Box 2 Parental Controls
For a little extra security beyond the standard parental controls, we suggest the Bitdefender Box 2. This is a firewall rather than a router, which makes it a little different than the other devices that we have looked at.
The Bitdefender Box 2 is a simple method of protection for your home network. It automatically begins to monitor your network right after it is plugged in, requiring no configurations to get started on its job, but it will require settings to hone in on your needs.
The Bitdefender is not a router, and needs to be connected directly to your router. While it does do the automatic monitoring, you will want to be able to set it to filter through the content that you do not want entering your network.
The performance features include the standard for firewall monitoring, including web filtering and malware protection. This can keep harmful things from your children’s devices. It also has software and cloud-based protection for the entire network.
You can get the Bitdefender Total Security antivirus service as well, but it has a yearly subscription fee, following your initial one-year trial that is included with the device.
It is annoying that you have to subscribe to get the more advanced features, but that is also the same as many of the other parental controlling devices that we have already looked at.
The Bitdefender has a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and it supports speeds up to 1 Gbps. It works with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa as well, so you will be able to use your smart home controllers without any issues coming from the firewall itself.
7. KoalaSafe Parental Controls Router
Last, but certainly not least, we suggest the KoalaSafe as one of the best parental control devices that you can get. It is nothing like the other devices that we have looked at, so be prepared.
The KoalaSafe is a small device and it is easy to hide and looks nothing like your typical router or other internet device. It is a white box with an image of a koala on the outside, which means it can be concealed wherever and looks adorable when it is spotted.
This is a router, but not like traditional routers. It will not work along with your existing router, but instead, it replaces your existing router. It can be controlled from your phone directly, so you could shut down the entire network if you needed to.
For example, if your children are refusing to do their homework or go to bed, you can easily just shut down the network with a few taps on your screen.
While it doesn’t look like a router, the KoalaSafe is, in fact, a wireless 802.11n router. It is designed to be controlled by your smartphone or your web app and is made for parental control.
The KoalaSafe will not work with your existing router, but instead it sets up a second network that can be entirely dedicated to your kids.
Additionally, you can also block whole categories of internet access, like videos, social media, or anything else that you do not want your children to casually be looking at.
You can set time limits and schedules for the network as well, ensuring that no one is burning the midnight oil online instead of in bed.
How To Set Up Parental Controls On Your Router
The way to set up parental controls on your router will vary dramatically depending on the router itself.
Some have an easy setup while other have a larger learning curve that it’s impossible to stay on it.
Regardless of the type of router that you have, you will need to log into the settings using a browser and the URL for the router.
This information is included with your router’s packaging as well as the login information. Inside of the settings, you should be able to locate the parental controls section and adjust it to be however you would like it to be.
The best parental control router is the Netgear Nighthawk R7000. It does come with a large amount of features that you will need to experiment with in order to have a good sense of what it can do.
Likewise, if you are interested more in a high performance router, we recommend the: The best router for parental controls that is also high performance is the Asus RT-AC88U.
The KoalaSafe router is another great option that will offer you more specific parental controls.
All in all, ready everything about the routers is important, but more important is to find the perfect one for you.
Hey, it’s James here. I’m the founder and editor here at RiverstoneNet.com. I’m a network engineer during the day and a blogger at night. Let me know if I can help you with choosing a new modem/router or troubleshooting your Internet connection.