The best parental control routers give parents the power to limit how long and what children can access online. The most robust parental controls let parents set use schedules, monitor activity, and use keywords to identify potentially harmful content.

Your child’s age, access to connected devices, and personality all factor into the type of parental controls you need in a router. If you have several children of different ages, you may need a router that allows you to set up profiles you can filter content based on age and maturity.

Parental control routers can work in conjunction with other parental control software, acting as another layer of protection. Take a look at our list of best parental control routers for models that help you keep your kids safe while offering speed and connectivity that works for your usage level.

— Best Overall: TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX50)
— Best for Gaming: ASUS AX6000 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX88U)
— Best Modem-Router Combo: ARRIS SURFboard SBG10
— Best Mesh: TP-Link Deco WiFi 6 Mesh WiFi System(Deco X20)
— Best Budget: ASUS AX1800 WiFi 6 Router (RT-AX55)

How We Picked the Best Parental Control Routers

When researching parental control routers, we considered the type of filtering, customization of the parental controls, time limits, and ease of use and installation. We also weighed performance. A router that offers excellent parental control could potentially be a headache to use if it offers middling speed and performance.

Filtering type: We considered whether the router had content or app filtering and/or dynamic filtering. Models that allowed you to categorically select filters fared better than those you manually have to enter each blocked website.

Parental control customization: Parental controls that allow users to set up profiles for different family members let you better customize filtering based on the age and usage of each child.

Time limits: Routers that let parents monitor usage times with the ability to set time limits can help busy parents stay on top of highly connected kids.

Ease-of-use and installation: Ease-of-use and installation aren’t necessarily connected to parental control. However, they can certainly make it easier to set up and monitor parental controls over time.

Best Parental Control Routers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX50)

Stellar Security. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: The TP-Link Archer AX-50’s robust parental controls are combined with easy installation, link aggregation, and anti-malware protection, making it the best parental control router.

Specs:
Wireless Protocol: 802.11ax
Parental Control Strength: High
Bands: 2

Pros:
— Includes lifetime access to TP-Link parental controls
— Parental control presets
— Quality of Service (QoS) settings can increase speed and efficiency
— Built-in anti-malware software

Cons:
— File-transfer performance isn’t impressive

The TP-Link Archer AX-50 would be an impressive router even without the robust parental controls. However, when you add in TP-Link’s HomeCare security features, it rises to the top. Plus, you get a lifetime subscription to HomeCare with your purchase.

The parental controls include presets for children, tweens, teens, and adults. Each preset has age-appropriate category filters for adult content, social networking, gaming, gambling, and chat rooms. Parents can view a browsing history to see accessed sites and times. From there, you can set time limits for individual profiles. In addition, HomeCare includes built-in anti-malware software, which is more of a security than a parental control feature.

Outside of parental controls, the AX-50 is an amazing router with top speeds, thanks to the 802.11ax wireless protocol. The QoS controls allow you to tweak settings to increase speed in support of gaming, streaming, and other specialized uses. Users can access multiple LAN imports and use link aggregation to keep speeds up even during high usage.

One of the few weaknesses with this router is the file transfer speeds.

Best for Gaming: ASUS AX6000 WiFi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX88U)

Works with Alexa. ASUS

Why It Made The Cut: Easy-to-access parental controls work well with the speeds and game-enhancing features of the RT-AX88U.

Specs:
Wireless Protocol: 802.11ax
Parental Control Strength: Medium-High
Bands: 2

Pros:
— Easy access to parental controls through the AiProtection software
— Robust QoS controls
— Powerful performance even during heavy usage

Cons:
— Expensive

The ASUS AX 6000 RT-AX88U is an excellent gaming router that includes access to parental controls through the AiProtection software. This built-in software allows parents to set social network restrictions, block entertainment or media content, and block adult-oriented sites. It’s done through the AiProtection app, which is also where you can adjust the long list of controls and adjustable features that come with this router.

As far as performance, the RT-AX88U has robust QoS controls. QoS settings let you adjust your wireless security, which can protect kids too. You can also turn on beamforming (to focus your signal), MU-MIMO (Multi-User MIMO lets the router communicate with several devices simultaneously), rename SSIDS (rename your network to make it easier to find), or change channel widths to customize the router to your home. This model is compatible with Alexa, which lets you pause your internet using voice commands, too.

The only real downside with the RT-AX88U is the price. It’s expensive, but you get premium performance and one of the best gaming routers with parental controls on the market.

Best Modem-Router Combo: ARRIS SURFboard SBG10

Easy to Set Up. ARRIS

Why It Made The Cut: The SBG10’s easy installation, capacity, and coverage of areas below 2,000 square feet make it a solid choice for the best modem router with parental controls.

Specs:
Wireless Protocol: 802.11ac
Parental Control Strength: Medium
Bands: 2

Pros:
— Easy installation through the app
— Block websites using keywords or URLs and customize the time of day or week
— Great speed for average users

Cons:
— Longevity has been an issue with some units
— Poor app functionality

If you’re looking to combine several functions in one, the ARRIS SURFboard SBG10 is a strong choice. It contains a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and an AC 1600 dual-band WiFi router with a two-port gigabit ethernet router. It’s actually a three-in-one rather than a two-in-one model because of the additional gigabit router.

The parental controls include the ability to manually input selected URLs or use keywords to block sites. Parents can also set a schedule to block certain sites at different times of the day or week.

The simple setup is one of the best features of this modem-router combo.  The app takes you through the process step-by-step. The SBG10 offers 16 concurrent downstream and 4 upstream channels. It covers approximately 2,000 square feet, with the best speeds being at close range.

As far as weaknesses, some users have issues with the app after they’ve gone through the setup process. A few units have also had some durability problems.

Best Mesh: TP-Link Deco WiFi 6 Mesh WiFi System (Deco X20)

Wide Coverage. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: The parental controls that come with TP-Link’s HomeCare software make the Deco X20 the best mesh WiFi system router with parental controls.

Specs:
Wireless Protocol: 802.11ax
Parental Control Strength: High
Bands: 2

Pros:
— Excellent range, up to 4,000 square feet
— Set up profiles, set time limits, filter levels, and monitor accessed sites
—Impressive security suite

Cons:
— May not have the speeds for highly connected smart homes

The TP-Link Deco X20 is a mesh system that can cover up to 4,000 square feet with speeds that work for homes that have a few streaming devices and light gaming. It’s great in the mid-distance range, which is often overlooked among similar designs.

The HomeCare parental controls allow you to set up separate profiles for different family members, adjust filter levels, and set time limits. Parents can also monitor accessed sites. The X20 also comes with a security suite that can block malicious attacks, too.

However, too many smart devices could overwhelm the X20 and slow down speeds.

Best Budget: ASUS AX1800 WiFi 6 Router (RT-AX55)

Good Value. ASUS

Why It Made The Cut: The RT-AX55 is an entry-level WiFi 6 router with parental controls you can set on specific devices or for an entire network.

Specs:
Wireless Protocol: 802.11ax
Parental Control Strength: Medium-High
Bands: 2

Pros:
— Limit access the internet access of certain devices or set parental controls over the entire network
— Excellent speeds for the price
— Compatible with AiMesh system to expand coverage area

Cons
— Not wall-mountable

The ASUS AX1800 RT-AX55 costs a fraction of other WiFi 6 routers. While it lacks some advanced features, the parental and security controls work well to protect children from unwanted content. Using the ASUS app, you can assign time limits, block websites for specific devices, or apply those controls to your entire network.

Buyers also get lifetime access to a security suite that includes malware protection and the ability to block certain websites.

Users also get higher speeds that come with the 802.11ax protocol. It’s compatible with AiMesh systems so you can expand the network to cover all corners of the house. The downside — it’s not wall-mountable.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Parental Control Routers

Content Filtering

Your router controls the network access to all of your connected devices. The right content and filtering features can prevent children or anyone else from accessing content that’s above the maturity level or that you do not want in your home. Content filtering features may let you enter website URLs one by one or use keywords to set a more broad filtering net.

The best routers let you set filters based on categories rather than needing to enter specific addresses. Models with built-in category filters connect to a manufacturer’s list or a third-party service that already has a list of sites within each category. Users pick the categories they want to block, such as those with sexual content or explicit language, without needing to manually enter a list of sites.

Screen Time Controls

Parental controls also go beyond the content kids access. Solid parental controls also include the ability to limit when and for how long children can access the content. Some models let you set specific time periods, while others will cut off access after a cumulative amount of time. For example, you may allow one hour of access to social media sites or turn off access to entertainment or gaming sites after 9 p.m.

Dynamic Filtering

Dynamic filtering goes beyond the average content and app filters. This type of filter blocks websites based on their content rather than just the website name or email address. Dynamic filters are able to catch websites that may not be on the manufacturer’s category list or third-party service’s blocked list. This type of filtering catches sites that have a name that may get through regular filters.

FAQs

Q: Which router brand has the best parental controls?

TP-Link routers that include a subscription to the HomeCare app’s parental controls platform are among the best and most affordable routers. Many, but not all, TP-Link routers come with a free lifetime subscription to the service.

Q: How much does Netgear parental control cost?

Netgear has a feature called Netgear smart parental controls that are built into many of their routers. It allows you to create user profiles and customize them to monitor activity, manage time, and pause the internet if needed. However, it's a paid subscription with different levels. The free subscription allows you to create separate profiles and pause the internet. However, you’ll need a premium subscription that’s $7 per month or $69.99 per year to get features like device usage time, website history, and access to the My Time app that allows you to monitor screen time and set time limits.

Q: Is Orbi parental controls free?

Orbi parental controls are free. However, their parental controls are not as robust as some of the router models on our list.

Q: Can Orbi block websites?

Alone, Orbi routers have some limited parental controls that include blocking websites. However, you can buy a Circle subscription that works with the Orbi app to add dynamic filtering, time limits, and other advanced parental controls.

Q: How do you keep your kids from bypassing parental controls?

There are a few things you can do to keep your children from bypassing parental controls. Use the parental controls on your children’s devices as another layer of defense. That may mean turning off the hotspot on their phone or limiting access to certain websites on their tablet. Regularly check their browsing history. You can also establish family rules to prevent bypassing parental controls. For example, you may require anyone on the internet to be in a shared space, no bedrooms. Take a periodic glance at what your children are doing online. You may also need to lock up connected devices at night to make sure kids aren’t online when they should be sleeping.

Q: How are parental control routers different from installing parental control software on your kid's tablets or PCs?

Parental control routers filter and block questionable content before it ever reaches your child’s device. You can still use parental control software on your child’s devices as a second layer of defense. Routers also let you filter any content throughout the house and not just the content your children access. If there are certain kinds of content you don’t want in your house at all, settings that apply to your entire network prevent your kids from accidentally stumbling across something while using your laptop or tablet.

Q: What is a parental control router?

A parental control router is one with parental control features that let you filter content, set time limits, and monitor usage on your network. Some models are designated as parental control routers, while others are simply a router with robust parental controls.

Final Thoughts

The TP-Link WiFi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router (Archer AX50) has an excellent set of parental controls that come with the HomeCare app. Parents cannot only block questionable sites, they can also set time limits and monitor activity. For those looking to save a few dollars, the ASUS AX1800 WiFi 6 Router (RT-AX55) provides good control and the ability to block specific websites for certain devices or for your entire network.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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