Home Networking Basic Controls

Take your child’s cell phone at night and charge it in your bedroom. This ensures it is fully charged the next day, and it prevents them from making phone calls, texting, or using the cellular connection to bypass wifi restrictions.

Run two different wifi networks, one for the adults and one for the child(ren). Many routers are capable of this and are labelled “Simultaneous dual-band 2.4 & 5GHz” router. NETGEAR is the brand I have had the best luck with over the years.

I use this router: Netgear Smart Wifi Router AC1750 Dual Band Gigabit (R6300 v2) This router will actually run 4 networks, 2 regular and 2 guest. In order to enable certain restrictions, you must use the 2 regular networks, NOT the guest networks.

When you set up your router, you will want to:

  1. Create the 2.4GHz network as the child’s network. I would recommend broadcasting the SSID to make it easier for you to determine if the network is online or not. Protect it with a WPA2 password (Others are too easy for a savvy kid to crack) that is okay to tell your child.
  2. Create the 5.0GHz network as the adult network. I would recommend NOT broadcasting the SSID to avoid tempting the child to crack it. Protect it with a WPA2 password that is easy for you to remember but could not be guessed by the child.
  3. Create an OpenDNS account (https://www.opendns.com) and follow instructions on how to set it up for your router. If you have a NETGEAR Router, the “Parental Controls” (http://www.netgear.com/lpc) are exactly the OpenDNS controls set up in a different manner. Your OpenDNS settings will apply to all networks, wired and wireless, so know that anything you lock your kid out of will also lock you out of. OpenDNS can be set up for more advanced filtering, but it’s more complicated than the average user would want to go for.
    1. If you pay the $20/year for a paid account with OpenDNS, you can get reports on blocked sites and other access statistics. If you use the Parental Controls through the router instead of setting the DNS records, you will not be able to take advantage of the statistical gathering even if you pay for the account.
    2. I use a custom configuration (see image), but you can use presets, or define your own whitelist (can only go to these sites) or blacklist (can never go to these sites).
    3. If your internet connection does not come with a static IP address (most residential connections do not by default), you may need to install a small utility on your computer to update the IP address of your network in the OpenDNS system.
  4. Configure your Child wifi network to turn on and off at the hours you determine appropriate for your home. I have my wifi turn on every morning at 7am and off on school nights at 10:30pm. Weekends it turns off at midnight. Write down the times you agree to and refer back to them when the child questions whether the router is “working right”.

NOTE: you want all the child’s devices to be connected via wifi and not a wired connection as the wired connections cannot typically be turned off for certain hours of the day. This also includes any Wifi extenders, power line adapters, and 2nd Wireless access points that plug into the main router with a cord. If you have multiple Wireless Access Points, you will need to test and configure each WAP to determine if it is working as desired.

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