When you are setting up a new wifi router for your house, it’s super easy to just plug it in, and let it keep it’s defaults. When you do that, you could be missing out on some really awesome features that can protect your family from the seedy side of the internet! I use a Netgear router, because I have found that their parental control and safety settings are far superior to other brands. I had a meeting with another brand while at CES this last year, and explained to them why even though I had been using their products for the last 15 years, I recently had to switch to Netgear because the parental features were so much better. They accepted the challenge and I told them exactly what features their product was missing that I could get in my Netgear router. They agreed that they were missing those particular features, and so Netgear still has my heart. So, what are these awesome features of your wifi router that you may not be using?
Several routers out there now offer a filter directly through the router. The filter that Netgear uses is OpenDNS. While you can use OpenDNS with any router that you have purchased, the integration with Netgear makes it really easy to set up. You don’t have to go deep into the settings of the router to find the right place to set up OpenDNS… it just does it for you and offers a very simple wizard to help you through the process. OpenDNS is really great, because it filters out the content at the router itself. You can set up filters on your computers, but what is filtering the xbox or playstation, your tablets, and even your Nintendo DS? All of these devices can reach the internet, but there aren’t many filters out there that can cover all of your devices. From OpenDNS you can blacklist categories and even specific websites (like we have tumblr.com blocked on ours because some of the images on tumblr are not appropriate for children).
Another thing you can do with OpenDNS is set different filters for different times of the day. Maybe during the day
you your children need to be more productive. You can block access to
Turn it Off:
I can create a schedule when wifi is completely unavailable in my house. That means, internet SHUT DOWN for a certain time period. I can even change the time period on different days of the week, and allow for the internet to be on until later on the weekends if I want. I really like this because as my parents always told me “Nothing good happens after midnight”
I love that I can also manually shut down the internet to specific devices. The Genie software for Netgear gives me a visual diagram of all of the devices connected to my network. I just need to find the particular device I want to shut down, and right click on it and say “block” That device will not have access until I turn it back on. Perfect solution for when your child is grounded! It also works great for all those neighbor kids that come over and ask for your wifi password. You don’t want them to have access still after they have left.
I can ALSO shut down access to certain devices based on a schedule (that way, Mom and Dad’s devices work after a certain hour, but the kid’s devices don’t!)… but that gets a little more complicated, and will require a whole post for that tutorial. Just know that is also something you can do with your WiFi router.
With all these fantastic rules in place on your router, it’s all going to become pretty useless if you keep the default password on the router to get into the administration area. Kids are excellent Googlers. Make sure you set a new password for the administration page of your router (usually when you are in the router’s settings you can find an area to “set password”.
The last super fun thing you can do with your router is check the access logs. This will tell you the dates and times that traffic was passing through the router from which devices. When you wake up in the morning and see that a certain device was on the internet at 1 AM…. time to start asking questions (or just time to start locking it down as previously mentioned)
WiFi routers have seriously come a long way, and I’m sure they will just continue to get better and better at keeping the good stuff flowing and the bad stuff out.
My recommended router is….
which will give you some hard core speed and security (and really, who ISN’T streaming their entertainment these days?)
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Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com