Technology has meant we are now even closer to our friends and families and the internet is now at our fingertips.
We are constantly using our smartphones and so are our children.
And for families with young children, the content that your child is exposed to on their devices can definitely be a concern.
So it's important as ever to have parental controls on your home internet to give you, as the parent, that extra piece of mind.
So how do you control what you child see on the Internet?
Well, there are three main types of parental controls in existence right now:
- Device level controls - These are set on the device itself, such as a smartphone or tablet. These controls apply no matter how you access the Internet on that particular device.
- Application controls - These are set on the platform or application that is being used. The settings within YouTube and Google are good examples of these.
- Network level controls - These are set on the hub or router itself and apply to all devices connected to that hub or router (covering your whole household.)
The one that we're going to concentrate on today are network level parental controls.
In other words, parental controls that apply to your router.
Routers basically connect network devices (such as your child's tablet for example) in your home to the Internet.
All the data that is eventually displayed on your device, flows in and out of the router, through your phone line and router cable.
Therefore this is the best place to apply parental controls, if you want greater control over the content that reaches your devices.
So without further ado, let’s look at our top picks for family friendly routers in terms of performance, functionality and security.
This futuristic looking device comes from a new contender to the market Gryphon.
Using cutting edge wire mesh technology this router can be used on its own to give coverage of up to 3,000 square feet, or it be used with additional units to increase coverage.
The router is used with the Gryphon smart phone application, so that you can monitor your network and set parental controls from your phone without fear that they might get changed or disabled.
The parental controls are extensive allowing you to create multiple user profiles for kids and adults.
You can set website ratings for sites that you may be concerned with and you can also see your child’s browsing history even if they choose to browse in Incognito mode.
There are of course standard controls which allow you to control the internet around bed time and at other times too such as when your child is doing their homework or at the dinner table.
The Gryphon (Amazon) like a lot of more modern routers tries to really sell the security aspect of its device.
You will receive daily security updates to tell you about the vulnerabilities or attacks upon your network.
Some would consider this an over kill, but with an increasing number of smart devices in the home and the concerns about privacy and hijacking of proprietary devices like cameras to spy on children, this is a function that will go down well with security conscious parents.
Roqos Core VPN Router - Next Generation UTM Firewall, Intrusion Prevention, Parental/Employee Controls
The Roqos (Amazon) is unique for a router and uses technology that we detect will start becoming more mainstream before long.
The router serves as a VPN or Virtual Private Network using the Roqos Global VPN Network.
A VPN essentially gives you anonymity when you surf the web. People cannot track your location as your IP address is routed through a company’s servers which could be anywhere in the world.
Browsing through a VPN does slow your speed but gives you enhanced security and anonymity online.
This router offers extensive parental controls, again you can do this through a mobile application.
With this router, you can enable a VPN network for any device that you connect to it.
You can also pause the internet and create schedules which determine when your children can and can’t go online.
You can also create filters which will automatically filter out a website’s categories and you'll also get notifications and history of their usage and browsing history.
The Roqos allows you to protect yourself against intruders, block ads and malicious software by keeping your identity and data encrypted.
This is the ultimate buy for the security and data safety conscious family.
The Tenda is the cheapest of all our routers.
We were really impressed by how much you are being given for a price tag of under $50.
Looks wise, the Tenda (Amazon) is awesome and look very similar to the Netgear Nighthawk.
You have 4 aerials protruding from the black box, which means that you can point them into areas that get less signal.
The Tenda also provides multidirectional data transfer for 3 devices in 3 separate places in the house.
The speeds understandably are not as quick or close to the $100+ routers, but still come in at a respectable 800+ Mbps.
What impressed us most is that the Tenda comes with an inbuilt 900Mhz processor which can auto tune the 5Dbi antennas.
This will ensure that your Wi-Fi signal is constantly being optimised depending on the data requirements of the devices in the house.
Using beamforming technology, Tenda states that it can extend Wi-Fi Signals by up to 70% compared to traditional Wi-Fi routers.
The parental controls can all be set using the Tenda app - though they are not as fancy as we have seen from the other routers.
They do everything which you are reasonably going to need however.
So for example, you can set a list of accepted and unaccepted networks, as well a creating a weekly schedule of times when the kids can go online.
You can also have a blacklist function for unknown devices or devices you do not want to access the network, and for visitors, there's a separate guest network that you can get them to use.
Finally, you carry out a security check to check for network vulnerabilities.
Overall, the Tenda delivers the performance and functions you would expect of a router 4x the price.
We were really impressed, and it is our top pick for families on a budget.
The Netgear R8000 (Amazon) is the latest in the Netgear R Series.
Netgear is the number 1 name for routers in the UK, and this one looks less like a router and more of an alien spaceship.
But, make no mistake this model is the king of our routers in terms of technology and functionality - a router for the truly tech loving family.
The Netgear R8000 offers speeds of up to 4 Gbps which blows the competition out of the water.
But of course, the functionality and speed come at a price, and you will pay more for the Netgear than almost any other router.
Tri Band Wi-Fi is included which means you can send data in 6 different directions using the 6 omni directional aerials.
Plus, with its own inbuilt 1 GHz processor, the router is constantly working to ensure your family is getting the best signal depending on the other devices using the broadband at the same time.
The beamforming+ technology means that the router and device communicate directly with each other to further speed up the connection and the 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports ensure the fastest connection for devices connected directly to the router.
You can also easily manage your router using the Nighthawk app.
This allows you to pause and resume the internet instantly, though these controls may be less advanced than those designed specifically for children.
This is a router built truly for speed and for those who embrace all things technology but it does lack in refined functionality for advanced parental controls.
TP-Link is another established name in router design.
Mesh technology features heavily in our selection of routers, and that’s because it gives the best, widest and most stable coverage compared to non-mesh routers.
And the TP-Link Deco (Amazon), is no different.
With this system, you get three separate devices which can give you coverage in house of up to 4,000 square feet, which is above and beyond the average sized family home.
This will ensure that you receive great coverage wherever you are in the house - even if you have a big family home with multiple floors and a lot of brick walls.
The dual band receivers enable stable coverage across floors and through walls which negates the need for Wi-Fi boosters.
This multi-pack enables a wide range of functions including using one of the three modules as an access point or a simple range extender. The system can also be paired with Alexa to add voice controls to your setup.
Finally, the TP-Link application gives you a full range of parental controls including filter levels, user profiles, time limits and insights into your homes browsing and data usage.
The filter levels will let you adapt the Wi-Fi network for children of all ages.
This is our top choice for those who have the budget and want the widest and strongest coverage of internet alongside a full suite of parental controls.
The TP-Link Deco is ideal for family homes on multiple floors, as traditional floors and brick walls often dampen traditional router Wi-Fi signals.
The Asus RT-AC68U (Amazon) is the last of our big name and big-ticket price routers.
But the technology and functionality that it offers is exceptional.
By itself it provides speeds of up to 1.9 Gbps, but the AiMesh technology means that you can buy multiple routers and connect them together to create a powerful and wide network coverage across 5,000 square feet homes and above.
The AiProtection and Parental Controls provides a high-level of security, which blocks malicious external snoopers.
In addition, you can manage users, monitor bandwidth usage, obtain in-depth reports and get access to a fantastic array of tools through the Asus application.
Also there is there is online protection for devices which are connected without Anti-Virus.
The router has a dual core processor and the 5th generation Wi-Fi chipset which means that the router is 3-5 times faster than traditional routers.
The processor is particularly useful for teenage gamers or adults for that matter, who need low latency speeds for their online games.
You can even use the Adaptive Operating System to tell the router what type of function you want to prioritise such as web browsing and file transfer to gaming and media streaming.
The Asus is our top pick for those who want a truly amazing range of functionality controls for the home.
The router is also particularly suited to the more tech savvy user that might want more fine-grained control.
So, who comes out as the top pick for your home router to ensure that your family use the internet safely, stay protected and can have their screen time modified as and when needed?
Well, we have two picks for you today.
Firstly, for the family that needs great protection on a budget we must choose the Tenda (Amazon).
This little box comes in at under $50, includes omni directional aerials, a mobile application and a good range.
It also has all the basic parental controls that you could feasibly need.
The Tenda is really punching well above its weight in terms of functionality and we consider it to be an absolute bargain for the price.
For the family that wants truly awesome power and functionality we recommend the ASUS RT-AC68U AC1900 AiMesh (Amazon).
This router has a truly dazzling array of functions and a well-designed mobile application which makes it the perfect fit for a technology worshipping family of gamers, streamers and media hungry children.
The fact that you can also buy multiple routers, extend the coverage and tap into state-of-the-art mesh technology, means this is a router which though expensive will stand the test of time.
Your pocket may smart a bit from the investment, but you are really going to get the best out of your super-fast broadband and enable multiple users to browse and use the internet at the same time, with minimum down time and latency.
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