3 Clever Ways To Control Your Kid’s Internet Usage

A Step-By Step Guide On How To Completely Rule Your Home Network And manage your kid’s time online

Kids love their devices, from iPhones and iPads to Samsung smartphones and Google tablets. They flock to social media networks, bouncing between Facebook and Instagram, watch Netflix and YouTube and spend endless hours on Minecraft.

prventing kids from watching adult content online

With so many ways for your kids to spend their time online – and a lot of their time being spent on it – you can’t realistically watch them 24/7 to monitor what they come across on their screens.

Without getting too deep in to everything potentially bad on the web, you probably want them to have some time away from their devices, like some old-school physical activity and when it’s time for bed.

So, what’s the solution?

As the mancave master you clearly are, you have a basic understanding of how your home network functions. Based on that assumption, we suggest a customized approach, in which you manage your home’s wireless network right at the source – the router.

Your kids will get their zzz’s at night and you, as the parent, will have peace of mind. Yes, we know, it’s more complex than that, and we will get into the details, but it does start at the router level.

Let’s begin by outlining four ways to monitor home Internet use:

1. The Lockdown

More and more parents are choosing to lockdown the computers and mobile devices in their homes at certain times and on certain days.

controlling your kid's network access

You can schedule the shutdown in advance, so it’s one less thing for you to worry about in your day. There are solutions for both Mac and Android devices. True, you could simply say to your child that he can only play two hours of games on the iPad a day but it’s easy for him to cheat that agreement. You can’t watch him all of the time, or at least not if you need to make dinner, head to work or do anything else! 

There are several ways to implement the lockdown method and then have it run automatically. For example, you can use restriction software on your PC that shuts your child’s PC off at a certain time of day. Alternatively, you can use the DD-WRT and OpenDNS methods to turn off every device connected to your home Internet. Below, we’ll explain how to set up DD-WRT and OpenDNS for lockdown purposes, as well as a third brute-force method.​

2. It’s a Matter of Priority

controlling your kid's internet access speed

Have you ever been sitting on your couch watching Netflix when it starts to buffer unexpectedly for over ten minutes in the middle of a pivotal scene? It is frustrating (trust us). What causes this issue? Bandwidth. Perhaps your teen is elsewhere in the house on a device that uses a lot of bandwidth, which means there was little left on the network for your movie viewing enjoyment. 

The solution is to give bandwidth priority to certain devices that connect to your home Internet network by modifying your router. Ideally, the most bandwidth would go to the devices that are most important to your family’s needs. If you manage the Internet use this way, then it won’t matter how many people in your home are on the network at any time. If you know that your family uses a lot of bandwidth then you’ll want to continue reading this post to learn how to manage it correctly by customizing your router. 

3. The Traffic Monitor

monitoring what your child can access online

You can be like the hallway monitor at your child’s school (or is that a retro concept, “hallway monitor”?!), when you log Internet traffic on the router level. You can see the amount of traffic – ingoing and outgoing – on your home’s network, as well as the type of websites your kids have been on lately.

Network monitoring and analysis doesn’t have to be something that you do around the clock either. There is an array of tools to monitor the history of visited URLs for you on the PCs or Macs and mobile devices registered on your home network. You can see if your kids are looking at sites that you deem inappropriate for their age.

4. A Chip Off The Block

block illegal downloads on your network

At the router level, you can also block specific online behaviors. If you are fortunate enough to have children who listen to you and honor your wishes, then you won’t have reason to learn about this method. But, just in case your kids aren’t this way, we have advice for you.

Let’s say your child tries to perform an illegal movie download. Rather than allowing this activity to happen without your knowledge, you can perform a preventative strike. Blocking features would keep your son or daughter from even being able to start the download, let alone complete it. To change the router settings, you can use the methods below. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.


dd wrt

DD-WRT is an open-source router firmware that may be your ideal way to control your kids’ devices. It is designed to enhance your wireless router’s stability, network security, and privacy. While DD-WRT can supercharge your router in many ways (we’ll explain below), it does not work with every device. The firmware is designed for Atheros- and Broadcom-based devices. 

Here are the requirements to install DD-WRT, including the supported routers, to consult if you are considering using this method of parental control:

DD-WRT is an open-source router firmware that may be your ideal way to control your kids’ devices. It is designed to enhance your wireless router’s stability, network security, and privacy. While DD-WRT can supercharge your router in many ways (we’ll explain below), it does not work with every device. The firmware is designed for Atheros- and Broadcom-based devices. 

Here are the requirements to install DD-WRT, including the supported routers, to consult if you are considering using this method of parental control:

What You Need To Install DD-WRT:

  1. A computer. It can be a Mac, Windows, Linux, etc.
  2. A broadband internet connection, whether it is DSL, Cable, or similar option.
  3. DD-WRT firmware image, which you can get at the official DD-WRT platform.
  4. supported device, such as Netgear, Linksys, or Microsoft.
  5. The correct version of DD-WRT for your wireless router.

Most (but not all) of the leading routers, released within the past two years, have DD-WRT support. The process of installing the firmware on a router is known as “flashing.” It is important to note that flashing the firmware on your router is usually a breach of the terms of service, which usually voids all router warranty and service. Also, you risk damaging your router, even if you follow all instructions. Speaking of instructions, here they are:

How To Install DD-WRT on Your Router:

  1. You must find the right version of DD-WRT for your supported device. To find it, simply do a quick search of the router database.
  2. Once you’re in the database, you’ll find you need to make a few related downloads. Choose the latest build that looks stable. Read your router’s page to make sure you follow any special instructions for your device. Don’t install the wrong one or you risk rendering your router useless.
  3. The specific instructions vary by router, but the process typically involves the same steps:
  4. Log into the admin page of your router. Don’t know the admin address? Get out your router manual and it will be in there. Typically it looks like 10.0.x.x or 192.168.x.x.
  5. Head to the Admin section and choose Firmware Upgrade.
  6. Then pick “Select File” and locate your DD-WRT firmware.
  7. Upload your firmware, and then wait for the router to update fully; do not attempt to turn it off before the update is complete.
  8. NOTE: These instructions may differ for your router; follow what your router says first and foremost.

Congratulations on successfully installing DD-WRT on your router! Now you can reconnect to your network over Ethernet or Wi-Fi and go to the Admin page. Usually, you will still be able to go to the same page as you did before the install. You may be prompted for a username and password; if so, the default is “root” (username) and “admin” (password). If you use the defaults, be sure to go back in and change them so no one can hack in later. 

Now you’re officially at the DD-WRT Admin page and have a lot of features at your disposal! While some routers do come with a few of these features, often you will find the DD-WRT expands on these features even when they come with the default firmware.

With your DD-WRT router, you now have the ability to do all four types of parental controls discussed earlier:

Lock down devices

Within the Admin page, you can set timeframes to allow or disable Internet access for every device in your home network. Within the Access Restrictions tab, you want to choose the “Deny” button, rather than “Filter.”

The Deny option enables you to block Internet access to your residence; you can choose when you want to shut down your child’s device, by time and/or day. To do so, follow the Denying Internet Access instructions.

Monitor traffic

With the DD-WRT bandwidth monitoring tools, you can check how much bandwidth each device is using at any time. To do so, first enter your router IP address in your browser of choice. It looks similar to this: Then, log in with your router admin details. The DD-WRT default is root (username) and admin (password). Next, click the status tab and select WAN. You will see the amount of bandwidth used.

Also, check the active client list to see which individual users are sucking up a lot of the bandwidth. Under the Status tab, click LAN. If your kid is hogging the bandwidth, you can just click the trashcan icon next to the user and knock your kid off Wi-Fi.

Give bandwidth priority (use QoS)

The “Monitor Traffic” section above will give you insight into which devices you want to give bandwidth priority. Then, go to the Status tab and click on the Bandwidth tab. The process of altering bandwidth per device is known as Quality of Service (QoS).

For example, you might want to prioritize Netflix and Hulu in the evenings so you watch movies once find they are lagging because that’s the same time of day when your kids are going a little too heavy on their streaming activities. Pump up the Netflix and Hulu QoS priorities to get back to the speed you enjoy. Set up your DD-WRT QoS with the reference guide here.

The process involves either prioritizing via MAC address or IP address. The MAC address method is great because it works even when a computer’s IP address changes, however, it only alters prioritization if the connection begins with this hardware address. So, if traffic started anywhere other than the computer, the modified settings won’t make a difference.

On the other hand, when you choose to prioritize via IP address, DD-WRT will manage ALL traffic, not just the traffic starting on the specific computer. Even when traffic starts from an external source, it is affected by your desired settings. This method forces your kid to come to you if he or she wonders why there’s the suddenly reduced bandwidth.

Track Behaviors

With DD-WRT Privacy, which is free, you can browse the Internet anonymously. That means that websites are not able to pick up your kid’s personal information, such as location, while he or she is online. The latest release of DD-WRT Privacy has no bandwidth limit and won’t slow down your computer either.

Also, you can combine DD-WRT and a software called WallWatcher (it’s Windows only, sorry to Mac users) to monitor the activity on your network. To install the software and configure your router, follow this monitoring guide. Once you activate the settings in the guide, you will be able to receive logs with meaningful URLs in them, so you can see which websites your kids have been on lately.

Top 3 Wireless Routers for DD-WRT Firmware

​Now that you’ve read all about DD-WRT firmware, you’re likely wondering which router to get to make the best use of it. For your convenience, here are profiles on three DD-WRT compatible routers:

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[amazon box=”B079JD7F7G” /]

How to apply parental controls with Your chosen dD-WRT router:

  1. One method is to set up an access schedule and a Block Services rule. This method shuts down all ports within a certain time frame for a specific IP address.
  2. The second method allows you to shut down specific devices only, rather than all technologies on the home network (unlike method one). You must do an extra step here, which is to assign an IP to each device. Go into your advanced settings on your Netgear router’s control panel, select Advanced Settings, Install, and then LAN-config. Then you can set a schedule for the specific device (ex. Turn off your child’s iPad at 8 pm when he should be getting ready for bed, without turning off your Netflix movie).

If the process of flashing DD-WRT on any of the three routers mentioned above seems too daunting to you, you can choose instead to purchase a pre-configured router directly from a manufacturer. It will be at an additional cost, though. On a more positive note, the router will come perfectly configured and include both warranty and service.

And… Now that you’ve got DD-WRT on your router, you can manage access restrictions, block websites, prioritize bandwidth, and more, by controlling your MAC address. Here’s what you will need to do: 

How to set up a mAC filter on your dD-WRT router:

  1. Let’s say you don’t want your kids using their iPhones on your home bandwidth for a while because they did one thing or another wrong that qualifies them for this form of punishment. You can block their iPhones (or other devices) using a Media Access Control (MAC) Filter. 
  2. You will create a list of blocked devices; you can also create a list of allowed devices if you want. You will require the MAC address of the devices you want to block. Here’s how to find the connected device’s MAC address
  3. Once you have the MAC address of the device that you want to block, open your router’s settings by typing (or similar) in the address bar. Key in your admin username and password.
  4. Typically, you will find the MAC Address Filter page within the Advanced Tab (some routers label these tabs differently). On the menu, select the option to block (or allow) devices. 
  5. Then enter the MAC address for each device you want to block. If you don’t know the address for each device, simply select its name from the active client list (if it currently connects to your network) and copy its address to the filter page. Save your settings and your kids will find their iPhones or other devices won’t connect to your home’s network anymore.
  6. If you don’t want to fully block the devices, but only want to restrict your childrens’ access on certain days or at certain times, you can set up a schedule for Internet use easily on the same admin page.

SOLUTION 2: OpenDNS Method

open dns

Another method is to use OpenDNS parental controls on your router to make your network safer and limit your childrens’ time online. What many parents find effective is to use the router-provided DNS (OpenDNS) for kids’ mobile devices and then manually input DNS servers for any devices on the home network that does not require any filters (such as mom’s smartphone). OpenDNS works effectively for filtering domains.

At this point, you are likely thinking to yourself, “What the heck is DNS?” The acronym stands for Domain Name System. Essentially, it is like a phone book for the Internet; it contains domain names in a virtual directory and translates them into Internet Protocol or IP addresses.

NOTE: This post only discusses the free version of OpenDNS, although there are other OpenDNS options available. Our focus is limited, and the paid versions go outside of our scope.

With OpenDNS, you can configure your router such that you direct all DNS requests through their servers. Here is how:

How to get started with openDNS:

  1. Go to OpenDNS.com and create an account. OpenDNS Home is a great choice as it is free and easy to set up.
  2. Enter your basic information as required to fulfill the account creation requirements. You will then need to confirm via your provided email address.
  3. At this point, you will be taken to a screen that explains how to change your DNS for various clients and your network’s access points. You can change your DNS on your router, PC, server, and mobile devices.
  4. To fully configure your router, scroll down this post to the box titled “How to Configure Your Router’s DNS.”

By configuring your router for basic parental controls, you can keep your clients connected to the network while keeping your kids out of trouble. This statement holds true even when there is a combination of Windows, Macs, Android and iOS devices on your home network. If your router does not have parental controls within it already, or if you want more in-depth control over your kids’ Internet access than your router’s built-in security and admin features allow, you can use controls via OpenDNS. You then have a robust way to block websites and services.

With OpenDNS, for example, you can web filter at the router level or assign it to individual clients (aka each of your kids). That means that you, as an adult, don’t have a limited Internet experience. First though you have to create a free account through the main OpenDNS website. Here are the details:

How to configure your router’s DNS:

  1. Go to your favorite browser and open up your router’s configuration panel there.
  2. Next, input different DNS servers under the section that typically has the title “DNS Address.” The primary DNS server for OpenDNS is, and the secondary server is
  3. Then save your changes. The button may say “Save” or “Apply,” depending on your router.
  4. Done! Now all DNS requests will router through OpenDNS. But, you still need to (1) clear your DNS resolver cache and (2) clear your web browsing history (simply Google for these instruction guides).

Once you complete this configuration, you have the ability to use the various types of parental controls discussed earlier:

Lock down devices

With the OpenDNS dashboard alone, there is not a way to filter on an individual use basis or by schedule. That being said, you can alter DNS settings on individual computers (Windows or Mac) and mobile devices (Android or iOS), to set time limits for your kids on their online activities. For instructions, see the “Configuring DNS Servers on Windows 10” box below and the three boxes that follow it.

Monitor traffic

At the router level, you can configure the OpenDNS resolver (aka DNS server) addresses to send your DNS lookups to OpenDNS. You will then find the domain names queried via DNS, so you can see what sites your kids are on, in case any of them are inappropriate. It takes roughly 24 hours to start capturing information, so be patient! Once it begins to gather the info, you will be able to do so for each device on your house’s network where the DNS server addresses are configured.

Give bandwidth priority (use QoS)

OpenDNS handles only DNS requests. It does not monitor URLs your kids have visited, which means it will not track bandwidth used. Instead, what you can do, if you want to improve your Internet speed because the kids are hogging it, is to edit your hosts file to keep your computer from reaching certain IP addresses. For example, on OS X, there is a preference pane called Hosts (within System Preferences) that enables you to change your hosts file.

If you have a heavy traffic load at home, you can speed it up too by going into the QoS settings on your router, provided that it has this setting. ​Adjust the settings so that you prioritize web traffic rather than BitTorrent traffic, for example, particularly if your kid is heavy into iTunes downloads on his Mac while you’re trying to get work done on your iPad.

Track Behaviors

OpenDNS (with your free account) does not monitor Internet activity in any way. The only time you will get a log of Internet activity is when a DNS lookup is needed. However, you can use OpenDNS’ Umbrella Prosumer service instead to protect all mobile devices, regardless of where your kids are using them. 

To look up what sites your kids visit online, you must go to the router itself. Adjust settings there if you wish; just be aware though that your custom settings will only protect your kids’ computers and mobile devices while they are on your home network. The settings will not apply outside of the home unless you individually configure them; see the boxes titled “Adjusting DNS Servers On An Android Device” and “Configuring An iOS Device’s DNS Settings” below for related instructions.

Recommendations: OpenDNS and your router

While this method of using OpenDNS is the preferred one, it does have its disadvantages. It is an umbrella approach. Every computer and mobile device that attaches to the router must use the same settings. Also, the free version of OpenDNS does not allow you to see exactly where traffic is coming from. So, you cannot tell whether a certain website was accessed by your kid, spouse, or a friend who comes over and accesses your network.

Given these drawbacks, you may wish instead to configure individual clients in your network or change the ISP DNS server settings on both you and your spouse’s computers. The benefit is that you can have specific security settings on your kids’ computers or devices that do not hinder your adult experience of the Internet.

Below you will find instructions for changing DNS servers on Windows computers, Macs, and mobile devices, using OpenDNS settings:

Configuring DNS servers on windows 10:

  1. Right-click your mouse on the Windows Start button and select Network Connections from the menu. Right-click on the Properties option.
  2. Double-click on Internet Protocol Version 4 to select it.
  3. On the box that opens, select “Use the following DNS server addresses.” Here you will key in the IP addresses of the OpenDNS servers as follows (and then click “Save” or “Apply,” depending on your router):
    • Preferred DNS server:
    • Alternate DNS server:

    Changing your Mac’s DNS settings:

    1. Click your mouse on the Apple menu and select System Preferences. 
    2. Double-click on the Network icon.
    3. Select a network interface; by default, your primary one is selected. If you have more than one interface (such as Ethernet in addition to Wi-Fi) for connecting to the Internet, then repeat these instructions for each one.
    4. Click Advanced and then select the DNS tab
    5. Click the “+” button and add the IP addresses of the OpenDNS servers as follows (and then click OK and Apply to save it):
      • Preferred DNS Server:
      • Alternate DNS Server:

    Adjusting DNS servers on an android device:

    1. These instructions are specific to your home network; if you change wireless networks, then the settings will not apply to that new one.
    2. On the Android home menu, tap Settings.
    3. Tap Wi-Fi. Then long press on the network you currently connect to, and tap on the option titled “Modify Network.” Depending on which device you have, this screen may be under the “Advanced” option instead.
    4. Change the IP Settings from DHCP to Static.
    5. Then add in DNS 1 and DNS 2 for OpenDNS as per below (before you Save your settings):
      • DNS 1:
      • DNS 2:

    Configuring an iOS Device’s DNS settings:

    1. On your iPad or iPhone, open the Settings app. Tap on the Wi-Fi option.
    2. Located your Wi-Fi connection from the listed networks that appear on the screen. Tap on the “i” button to the right side of it.
    3. Scroll down the DNS section and tap the numbers to the right side of DNS.
    4. For OpenDNS, you will enter these addresses (separated by a semicolon):

    SOLUTION 3: Hardware Cut-off Method

    pulling the plug on your kids network use

    Of course, you don’t have to stick to the router software to enjoy parental controls. Instead, you can manipulate the hardware. You have two options here, either using a separate router or a Wi-Fi extender:

    Get a second router

    You will need a second router to fulfill this strategy. Then give your kids access to that router’s network only, while you and the wife keep the second one for yourself, free of limitations. Each of your kids’ devices, such as their iPods and iPhones, will connect to their own network. 

    With this technique, you would then shut off the kids’ router (and, therefore, their network) via the electrical outlet. If, say, you find they have been logging onto their devices after bedtime, you can put a stop to that by disconnecting the network to which the devices belong. 

    To make it a cinch to shut down the network, just connect a wireless control device to it that has a timer and/or remote control to automate the process. A great choice is the SVAT WRC101, an outdoor wireless remote control with an easy on/off switch to control your home network. It has an impressive 100-feet transmission range to your kids’ mobile devices; it can pass through walls, floors, and even doors. You won’t even have to leave your comfy chair in the man cave to turn off the Internet – just press a button on the remote control! 

    The plug-and-play design makes it easy to set up. Simply plug the receiver into the wall, and then plug in the device to be controlled by the receiver. That’s all!

    Use a wi-fi extender

    Let’s say you don’t want to get a second router. Instead, you can use a Wi-Fi extender, like the DHP-601AV PowerLine AV2 from D-Link. The switch starter kit offers you the option to use your home’s existing electrical wiring as a dependable network. You can connect everything from computers and media players to gaming consoles onto a high-speed network. The DHP-601AV model reaches even the areas of your home that are far away from your router, all without requiring you to add extra cables.

    Don’t worry about your network being slow as this particular Wi-Fi extender uses both AV2 Technology and Gigabit Ethernet. Enjoy speeds of up to 1000Mbps for activities that require a lot of bandwidth, like HD video streaming. 

    Also, this model is compact so that it won’t block other wall outlet plugs; you can install the device on the bottom outlet and have room to use the outlet above. You don’t have to place it right up beside your router, which is nice. The installation is a breeze too, with plug and play. Just push a button to set up your network adapter.

    With the DHP-601AV in place, you can now supervise your kids’ online activities from your smartphone, no matter where they are on in the house. The Wi-Fi extender won’t cancel out parental controls of your original router either. It will strengthen the Wi-Fi signal though (thumbs up).

    SOLUTION 4: Software

    Meet “mSpy”:

    mSpy parental control‘s mission is implementing technology into parents’ everyday life to understand children’ online activity and detect the signs of cyberbullying as well as protect kids online.

    In order to protect kids online and prevent cyberbullying and other online dangers, parents can:

    • Monitor the child’s online activity:
      sites and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, Line, Snapchat, which are widely used for cyberbullying.
    • View websites bookmarks and browsing history
    • Block sites and the most popular browsers
    • View and block apps on a child’s device
    • Monitor shared multimedia files, even the deleted ones
    • View calls, text messages as well as people behind them from a phone book
    • Track the child’s current GPS location from a parent control panel
    • Put geo-fences around safe or dangerous zones on a virtual map to follow your kid’s movements (school, grandma, auntie).
    • Get informed every time the child enters dangerous ones
    • Get a 1-page report of online activity for a particular period of time straight to a parent control panel.

    MSpy has features which help identify cyberbullying:

    1. Monitoring Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Viber, Line, Telegram to detect bullying messages
    2. Keylogger and Keywords alerts allow to view all keyboard strokes on a kid’s device. For example, “#roastme” is a new trend in cyberbullying. To get into it, kids post these words on social media asking the Internet audience to tease them. You can track those words remotely. With the Keylogger feature, you can set up specific words you want to identify on a target device. 

      Also, there are suicidal games like the Blue Whale one. The game also uses cyberbullying as the way to keep children desperate and lead them to suicide. Thus, to participate in the Blue Whale Game, kids type “#whale_findme”. If a parent finds it in time, they may prevent the child’s suicide.
    3. Blocking websites, browsers, apps, contacts from a phone book: since bullies often use sites like Ask.fm, apps like Snapchat to bully a kid, a parent can turn off this negative trigger at all. They can also find a bully in a contact book and block them as well.

    Our Recommendations

    Are you still with us? If so, you are now probably wondering which of the three methods would be best for your home. We favor number three, although there are limitations. Let us explain.

    The third method of focusing on the hardware level is the easiest of the ones we explain here. Setup for either Wi-Fi extender or the second router strategy is a cinch, and both options are simple to use. However, this way of controlling your network is obviously less refined than OpenDNS or DD-WRT. 

    We do acknowledge though that setting up DD-WRT or OpenDNS requires effort to set up and customize to your liking. It’s more of a time commitment than the third option. But, once you set up DD-WRT or OpenDNS, you will find the process of monitoring traffic, tracking behavior, and other parental controls are fairly straightforward to use on a daily basis. Plus, once you have done the initial setup, making a modification or two isn’t a big hassle because you are already familiar with the network’s ins and outs by that point.

    Of the two router options, the OpenDNS method is easier to implement than the DD-WRT alternative. Of course, you may favor the comparatively more difficult route of DD-WRT if you want to get fine grain control over what you restrict on your network, from your keywords to websites and devices (IP or MAC address). 

    As you can tell, there are many options for parental controls, depending on your needs. Ultimately, the goal is to keep your kids safe and to ensure they make good decisions on websites, email, and social media. While we would all like to think that our children do make wise choices online, the reality is that there are many risks on the Internet that can temp them and cause harm. With the assistance of technology, and with your kids’ best interests in mind, parental controls can be very advantageous.

    If you found this post helpful, which we hope you did, please share it by using the social media buttons below!