Our Picks

Best Parental Control Mesh Router   
Netgear Orbi RBK23    

Best Parental Control Traditional Router   
Netgear Nighthawk R7000   

Best Budget Option   
TP-Link AC1750 Archer A7   

We live in a world where many of us have internet access 24/7. That’s great—but if you have kids, that can be a serious concern. There’s content on the internet you never want them to see, predators who might target them through social channels, and the potential that they might spend their waking hours online.

Parental controls empower parents to protect their children. Ideally, they let you choose the types of content your children see, limit the hours they can go online, and provide you with detailed reports of the sites your kids visited and how long they spent there.

While a lot of routers claim to offer those features, there’s a wide divergence in the type and ease those tools can be used. Which router is right for your family?

Our overall picks:

Netgear offers the most complete solution by taking a highly-acclaimed third-party parental control system and building it right into their routers. Originally developed by Disney, Circle Smart Parental Controls offer easy-to-use features designed to keep your kids safe. There are quite a few free filtering tools out there, but for the best experience, you’ll want to subscribe to the $4.99/month plan.

If you’d rather not spend money on a subscription plan, TP-Link HomeCare offers many of those features for free. The software is supported by inexpensive, budget-friendly routers. Of course, there are lots of other options. We’ll cover the best of them in detail and show you which are most effective at keeping your kids safe when online.

Quick Navigation

// Why Trust Us?
// How Can Parental Controls Help?
// How We Tested
// The Winners
// The Competition
// Alternatives

Why Trust Us?


I’ve worked in the tech field for decades. I’ve set up computer networks for businesses and organizations, Internet cafes, and private homes. The most important of these is my home network.

I have six kids who love computers, mobile devices, gaming, and the internet in general. Over the years, I’ve used tons of strategies to keep them safe, including OpenDNS, which blocks adult content for free by changing your network settings, and Tomato firmware, which lets me schedule when my kids have access to the internet.

These solutions worked pretty well for me over the years. Today, though, most routers include parental controls. Read on to learn more about router settings and which will best protect your children.

How Can Parental Controls Help?

The first thing you want to look for in a parental control router is customizable user profiles. When you tell Johnny he can’t use the internet until he finishes his homework, it’s much easier to turn off Johnny’s internet access than to have to individually turn off access on his computer, iPhone, iPad, Xbox, and smart TV.

Next, you need content filtering so you can keep the bad stuff out. Some systems just have an on/off switch that blocks adult content, while others have age-based controls (child, pre-teen, teen, adult). Some allow you to block certain types of content (adult, violence, messaging, streaming).

Third, you may want to set limits to when your kids can access the internet. You could create a time schedule of when the internet is available each day or quota how long your child can spend online each day.

Another useful feature is internet pause, where you can manually block the internet for a child outside of a normal schedule.

Finally, you want parental controls that provide detailed reports of the sites your children visit and how long they spend on each.

For ease of use, every router in our roundup provides mobile apps that give access to parental controls. Some allow you to use a smart assistant such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod.

How We Tested

Positive Consumer Reviews

Some routers look good on paper, but how do they hold up to long-term use? Consumer reviews let you see detailed feedback about the devices real people purchased with their own money.

In this roundup, we’ve chosen routers with a four-star rating or higher. In most cases, they were reviewed by thousands of users. Keep in mind that these ratings are for the router overall, not parental control features specifically.

  • TP-Link Deco M5: 4.7 stars, 2,291 reviews
  • Eero Pro: 4.6 stars, 4,616 reviews
  • Meshforce M3: 4.6 stars, 944 reviews
  • D-Link DIR-867: 4.5 stars, 5,491 reviews
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000: 4.3 stars, 41,752 reviews
  • TP-Link AC1750: 4.3 stars, 7,553 reviews
  • Asus RT-AC68U: 4.3 stars, 5,184 reviews
  • Netgear Orbi RBK23: 4.3 stars, 3,894 reviews
  • Google Nest Wifi: 4.3 stars, 428 reviews (a new product)
  • Linksys EA7300: 4.2 stars, 11,593 reviews
  • Synology RT2600ac: 4.2 stars, 1,233 reviews
  • Linksys WHW0303 Velop: 4.0 stars, 3,274 reviews

Parental Control Features

A router may have “Parental Controls” printed on the box, but what does that mean? While some routers provide comprehensive, easy-to-use controls, others offer only basic features.

The only routers that cover every feature we mentioned above come from Netgear. They took a leading third-party solution, Circle, and built it into their routers. Circle provides some features for free: user profiles, content filters, internet pause, bedtime, and usage reports. Subscribing to the Premium plan unlocks additional features, including time schedules and quotas.

TP-Link’s HomeCare software includes almost everything you need for free: profiles, filtering, internet pause, time scheduling for bedtime, a time limit, and usage logs and reports. It’s one of the best free options and is available on affordable routers such as our budget pick, the TP-Link Archer A7. Synology’s free features are just as comprehensive, but they don’t sell budget routers.

Parental controls from eero and Google come next. They don’t offer quotas or reporting. Eero charges a small subscription for parental control. Then there’s Linksys Shield, a subscription service only available for their Velop tri-band mesh system. It offers similar features, but without user profiles, so you have to work with individual devices rather than children.

Finally, ASUS, D-Link, and Meshforce offer the least functionality. D-Link and ASUS provide scheduling and content filtering for individual devices—user profiles are not supported. Meshforce includes a time schedule feature for each user, but not content filtering.

Here are the parental control features available on each router:

parent control router1

Router Features

You don’t just want a router with parental controls; you want one with enough speed and coverage to provide reliable internet throughout your home. We cover this in detail in our review, Best Wireless Router for Home.

First, get a router that supports the latest wireless standards. All routers in this roundup support 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5). Very few routers currently support the new 802.11ax (wifi 6) standard.

Next, you need a router fast enough to provide a speedy online experience. The slowest routers in this roundup run at 1.2 Gbps. For a good long-term experience, we recommend you choose a faster router if you can afford it. MU-MIMO (multiple-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) improves speed by allowing a router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously.

Here are the download speeds of the routers we selected, from fastest to slowest:

  • Synology RT2600ac: 2.6 Gbps
  • Netgear Orbi RBK23: 2.2 Gbps
  • Google Nest Wifi: 2.2 Gbps
  • Linksys WHW0303 Velop: 2.2 Gbps
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000: 1.9 Gbps
  • Asus RT-AC68U: 1.9 Gbps
  • TP-Link AC1750: 1.75 Gbps
  • Linksys EA7300: 1.75 Gbps
  • D-Link DIR-867: 1.75 Gbps
  • TP-Link Deco M5: 1.3 Mbps
  • Meshforce M3: 1.2 Gbps

The eero Pro doesn’t list its maximum theoretical speed; it simply advertises: “best for internet speeds up to 350 Mbps.”

Another consideration is whether the wireless signal has enough range to pipe the internet to every room of your home. Here, everyone’s needs will be different, and most companies offer a variety of configurations.

Here is the range of the routers we cover, from best to worst:

  • Google Nest Wifi: 6,600 square feet (610 square meters)
  • Netgear Orbi RBK23: 6,000 square feet (550 square meters)
  • Linksys WHW0303 Velop: 6,000 square feet (560 square meters)
  • TP-Link Deco M5: 5,500 square feet (510 square meters)
  • Eero Pro: 5,500 square feet (510 square meters)
  • Meshforce M3: 4,000 square feet (370 square meters)
  • Synology RT2600ac: 3,000 square feet (280 square meters)
  • TP-Link AC1750: 2,500 square feet (230 square meters)
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000: 1,800 square feet (170 square meters)
  • Linksys EA7300: 1,500 square feet (140 square meters)

The D-Link DIR-867 and Asus RT-AC68U routers don’t state the range that they cover.

Finally, you need a router that can handle the number of devices in your household. Don’t forget to take into account all your family’s smartphones, tablets, computers, printers, gaming consoles, smart TVs, and other smart devices. The number could be larger than you imagined!

Here is the number of devices supported, from most to least:

  • Google Nest Wifi: 200
  • TP-Link Deco M5: 100
  • Meshforce M3: 60
  • TP-Link AC1750: 50+
  • Linksys WHW0303 Velop: 45+
  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000: 30
  • Netgear Orbi RBK23: 20+
  • Linksys EA7300: 10+

Quite a few routers don’t include this figure in their specifications, including the eero Pro, Synology RT2600ac, D-Link DIR-867, and Asus RT-AC68U.

Mesh Router or Regular Router

Mesh networks cost more upfront (typically a few hundred dollars) but are the easiest way to extend the range of your network so that it covers every room inside of your house. This extension is achieved through satellite units that work seamlessly together. In this roundup, we recommend six mesh solutions and six traditional routers.

Here are the Mesh systems we recommend:

  • Netgear Orbi RBK23
  • TP-Link Deco M5
  • Google Nest Wifi
  • Eero Pro
  • Linksys WHW0303 Velop
  • Meshforce M3

And here are the traditional routers:

  • Netgear Nighthawk R7000
  • TP-Link AC1750 Archer A7
  • Synology RT2600ac
  • Linksys EA7300
  • D-Link DIR-867
  • Asus RT-AC68U

Cost

The cost of routers varies widely, from well under a hundred dollars to over $500. Your price range depends on speed, coverage, and other features you need. After that initial purchase, some routers offer premium parental controls for a monthly fee, while others offer more basic ones for free. Some of the free options are quite good, but you may find the features offered in a subscription worth the price.

These options are free with the router:

  • Synology’s Access Control
  • TP-Link’s HomeCare
  • Nest’s Google SafeSearch
  • Meshforce’s My Mesh
  • D-Link’s mydlink
  • Asus’s AiProtection

Of these, Synology and TP-Link offer the most features.

And these require a subscription:

  • Netgear’s Circle Smart Parental Controls: $4.99/month, $49.99/year
  • Eero Secure: $2.99/month, $29.99/year
  • Linksys Shield: $4.99/month, $49.99/year

The subscriptions are optional, and the routers do offer some parental controls for free. Netgear Circle is the best and easiest to use option by far. Linksys Shield only works with Linksys Velop Tri-Band Mesh Routers, like the one we list below. It does not work with other Linksys routers, including the Linksys EA7300, which only has basic parental controls.

The Winners

Best Parental Control Mesh Router: Netgear Orbi RBK23


Netgear’s Orbi RBK23 mesh networking system is the winner of our Best Wi-Fi Home Router review and has the best parental controls as well. It’s one of the fastest routers we cover. It also has a tremendous range, covering even large homes. With subscription-based Circle Smart Parental Controls, it’s a fantastic choice if you’re not averse to spending a little money.

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Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes
  • Time schedule: Yes, (Bedtime and Off Time are Premium features)
  • Internet pause: Yes
  • Time quota: Yes, highly configurable (Premium)
  • Reporting: Yes (History is free, Usage reports are Premium)
  • Subscription: Basic is free, Premium costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year

Circle Smart Parental Controls can be accessed using a mobile app available on both iOS and Android. Many features are available free of charge. For the full experience, you pay a subscription of $4.99/month or $49.99/year. Circle is included with the Netgear Orbi and most Nighthawk routers, like our other winner below.

To get started, you set up a profile for each of your children and associate each child’s devices with their profile. From there, with the free plan, you can set an age-based content filter for each person that matches their age and interests.

Age categories include kid, teen, adult, and none. Interest categories include:

  • App stores
  • Arts and entertainment
  • Business
  • Education
  • Email
  • Home and family
  • Issues and lifestyle
  • Kids
  • Music
  • Online games
  • Photo
  • Science and technology
  • Search and reference
  • Many more

You can also disable individual websites and apps like Snapchat or Facebook. Some categories are not available for younger age groups.

You can’t manage your children’s online time on the free plan, but you can manually pause the internet when necessary, both for individual children and specific devices. The Premium plan includes time scheduling and time limits (quotas). You can set an online time limit for each child for the day, as well as individual time limits for different activities and platforms. The daily quota can be set differently for weekdays and weekends.

The Premium Bedtime feature automatically disconnects at the end of the day. With Off Time, you can schedule specific internet-free periods. Usage is a free feature that shows where your kids spend time online. A detailed history feature is available for Premium users. Circle is the most comprehensive, easy-to-use parental control platform included with any router. Helpful, detailed video tutorials can be accessed online.

Since Circle is a third-party solution, you can use it with other routers as well. To do that, you’ll have to purchase a Circle Home Plus device that works alongside your current router. For more information, refer to the Alternatives section below.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.3 stars, 3,894 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 6,000 square feet (550 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 20+
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 2.2 Gbps (AC2200)

Beyond parental controls, the Netgear Orbi is a terrific choice for your home network, offering significant speed and coverage. Unlike other mesh networks, the satellites only connect to the main router rather than one another, so it’s best to place the router in a central location.

Alternative Netgear Orbi systems:

  • We’ve linked to the Orbi 3-pack, which has enough coverage for large homes. Less expensive 2-packs and single units are also available.
  • Alternatively, you can upgrade to the RBK53S or RBK852 models. These offer faster speeds.

Best Parental Control Traditional Router: Netgear Nighthawk R7000


If you don’t need the coverage of a mesh network, Netgear’s Nighthawk R7000 is an exceptional traditional router. It has all the parental control features of the Orbi above, but only 30% of the coverage. It’s suitable for smaller homes.

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Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes
  • Time schedule: Yes, (Bedtime and Off Time are Premium features)
  • Internet pause: Yes
  • Time quota: Yes, highly configurable (Premium)
  • Reporting: Yes (History is free, Usage reports are Premium)
  • Subscription: Basic is free, Premium costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year

Like the Netgear Orbi above, the Nighthawk R7000 works with Circle Smart Parental Controls. That makes it equally effective at protecting your children—only the type of router has changed.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.3 stars, 41,752 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 1,800 square feet (170 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 30
  • MU-MIMO: No
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.9 Gbps (AC1900)

Nighthawk routers are standalone units, so they cost less but cover a smaller area. There are ways of extending their range at an additional expense. Alternatively, by purchasing one of the more expensive models (below), you get increased range as well as faster speed. For example, the most expensive model covers 3,500 square feet (325 square meters), rivaling some mesh networks.

Other Netgear Nighthawk options:

  • R6700: 1.75 Gbps, 25 devices
  • R7000P: 2.3 Gbps, 35 devices
  • R7800: 2.6 Gbps, 45 devices
  • R8000: 3.2 Gbps, 50 devices
  • R8000P: 4.0 Gbps, 55 devices

Best Budget Option: TP-Link AC1750 Archer A7


There are two ways to save money when choosing a parental control router. The first is by buying a cheaper router, and the second is by choosing parental controls that don’t require an ongoing subscription. TP-Link’s Archer A7 offers both.

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Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes, block content on age-appropriateness
  • Time schedule: Yes, online time allowances
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: Yes, custom time limits
  • Reporting: Yes, which sites are visited and how long is spent on each
  • Subscription: No

TP-Link’s free HomeCare software provides decent parental controls that can be accessed using a mobile app available for iOS and Android. It’s also compatible with Amazon Echo. It is arguably the best option for parents who don’t want to pay for a subscription.

HomeCare uses time limits (quotas) rather than schedules. Different limits can be set for weekdays and weekends. A bedtime feature ensures everyone is off the internet when it’s time to go to sleep.

You can create user profiles, then associate each child’s devices to their profile. That way, HomeCare can keep track of each child’s online time across all their devices. The number of associated devices is displayed next to each person’s name; the internet can be paused for any user at the touch of a button.

Content filtering can be set by age level, category, and apps/websites. Age levels include child, pre-teen, teen, and adult; there are categories for adult, gambling, download, games, media, and more. That’s an impressive amount of control for a free app with no subscription.

The Insights feature shows you the sites each child visits and how much time is spent on them. You can also access a usage monitor and receive a monthly report.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.3 stars, 7,553 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 2,500 square feet (230 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 50+
  • MU-MIMO: No
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.75 Gbps (AC1750)

While this is a budget router, it’s suitable for many households. Its speed is reasonably fast. It has an impressive range for its price, beating the more expensive Netgear Nighthawk router. Its support for 50+ devices is also impressive.

The Competition

Alternate Mesh Routers

TP-Link Deco M5 Mesh Network

The Deco M5 is a highly rated mesh network with the same TP-Link HomeCare parental controls as the Archer A7 above. If you’re looking for a mesh network that’s safe for your kids and doesn’t require an ongoing subscription, this is your best choice.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes, block on age-appropriateness
  • Time schedule: No
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: Yes
  • Reporting: Sites visited, time spent on each
  • Subscription: No, the apps and services are free

As described above, TP-Link’s HomeCare system offers the best non-subscription parental controls of any router. In terms of features, it compares quite well with Netgear’s Circle, lacking only offline scheduling.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.7 stars, 2,291 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 5,500 square feet (510 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 100
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.3 Gbps (AC1300)

The hardware is phenomenal and compares well with our winner, the Netgear Orbi, above. This model is less expensive, but also a little slower (faster configurations are available), while coverage is similar. The Deco supports 100 devices, beating all of the competition except Google’s Nest Wifi.

We recommend the 3-pack, but if you have a smaller home you might consider the more affordable 2-pack or single unit. A faster unit, the AC2200 Deco M9, is also available.

Google Nest Wifi

Google Nest is an upgrade to the older Google Wifi product covered in our Home Wi-Fi Router roundup. There is a Google Home smart speaker built into each unit, as well as top-tier free parental controls.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes, Groups can be for a person or number of people
  • Content filtering: Yes, block sexually explicit adult sites using Google’s SafeSearch
  • Time schedule: Yes, internet time-outs can be scheduled, postponed and skipped
  • Internet pause: Yes
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: No
  • Subscription: No

Family Wi-Fi is Google’s parental control solution. It can be accessed from the Google Home (iOS, Android) and Google Wifi (iOS, Android) apps. You can also use its features just by speaking to the device. Time quotas and reporting are not available. You can create groups of devices either for each child or for groups of family members, and pause the internet for any group at any time.

Content filtering is limited to blocking adult websites using Google’s SafeSearch. Other types of filtering are not available. Internet time-outs are flexible and configurable. They can be scheduled in advance, postponed, and skipped.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.3 stars, 428 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 6,600 square feet (610 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 200
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 2.2 Gbps (AC2200)

The hardware is very interesting: it’s both a mesh network and a series of three Google Home devices with built-in speakers. The number of devices supported and wireless range is the best by far in our roundup; bandwidth is also superb. We’ve linked to the 3-pack, but other configurations are available, including a 1-pack, and 2-pack.

eero Pro

The eero Pro is Amazon’s highly-rated mesh Wi-Fi system. It is more expensive than other equivalent mesh systems; its parental controls require an inexpensive subscription. Despite that, reviews for the unit are very positive.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes, with an eero Secure subscription
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: Yes
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: Yes, with an eero Secure subscription
  • Subscription: eero Secure costs $2.99/month or $29.99/year

Not all of eero’s parenting controls require a subscription. In fact, the only thing you need to pay for is content filtering and reporting. Family Profiles lets you create a user profile for each family member and assign devices to them. From there, you can manually pause the internet and create schedules of when the internet is unavailable to family members. Like the Google Nest, scheduling is quite flexible.

Eero Secure costs $2.99/month or $29.99/year, and provides additional benefits:

  • Advanced security (protects devices from threats)
  • Safe filtering (blocks inappropriate content)
  • Adblocking (speeds up the web by blocking ads)
  • Activity center (sees how devices use your network)
  • Weekly insights

A further eero Secure+ service costs $9.99/month or $99/year, and adds 1Password password management, encrypt.me VPN service, and Malwarebytes antivirus.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.6 stars, 4,616 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 5,500 square feet (510 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: Not stated, one user has 45 devices
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: Not stated, “best for internet speeds up to 350 Mbps.”

An eero network is easy to set up and use, has a robust feature set, works with Alexa, and will meet the needs of most families. We’ve linked to the configuration with one eero Pro router and two beacons. You can also purchase a router with a single beacon, or purchase routers and beacons separately.

Linksys WHW0303 Velop Mesh Router

The Linksys Velop mesh router provides remarkable speed and coverage for your home. A reasonably-priced subscription-based parental control system is available for Velop routers only.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: No, and a limit of 14 devices
  • Content filtering: Yes, with a Linksys Shield subscription
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: Yes
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: Not stated
  • Subscription: Linksys Shield costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year

Basic parental controls are available on all Linksys routers for free, including the Velop. Mobile apps are available for iOS and Android. You can’t create user-profiles; a maximum of 14 devices are supported. So if you want to block your child’s internet, you have to block their devices individually.

Free controls allow you to:

  • Block specific internet sites on specific devices
  • Restrict internet access on specific devices
  • Restrict internet access on specific devices at specific times

For content filtering, you’ll need to subscribe to Linksys Shield, which costs $4.99/month or $49.99/year and is only supported by Velop devices. This service allows:

  • Age-based content filtering: Child (0-8 years), Pre-teen (9-12 years), Teen (13-17 years), Adult (18+)
  • Blocking of websites by category: adult, ads, downloads, politics, social, shopping, news, leisure, culture and more

Linksys Shield supports voice commands given to virtual assistants, but it’s a shame that it’s not supported by more devices, like the EA7300 below.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.0 stars, 3,274 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 6,000 square feet (560 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 45+
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 2.2 Gbps (AC2200)

The WHW0303 Velop mesh router is quite fast, offers excellent coverage, and supports an acceptable number of devices for most homes.

Meshforce M3 Whole Home

The Meshforce M3 is a highly-rated mesh network that offers good value for your money. Unfortunately, its parental controls are lacking.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: No
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: No
  • Subscription: No, the apps are free

You can tell that parental controls are not a priority for Meshforce just by looking at the How to set up parental control page—it’s quite vague. Fortunately, the free My Mesh app (iOS and Android) is easy to use.

User profiles can be created to manage your children’s internet access by device and time period. Content filtering and reporting are not available at all.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.6 stars, 944 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 4,000 square feet (370 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 60
  • MU-MIMO: No
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.2 Gbps (AC1200)

The router itself is quite good, especially considering the price. It supports a large number of devices and has a reasonable wireless range. Its speed is slow but acceptable. If parental controls are important to you, there are much better options.

Alternate Traditional Routers

Synology RT2600ac

Synology makes great (albeit expensive) gear, and the RT2600ac wireless router is no exception. Its parental controls are excellent and available without a subscription.

  • Parental controls at a glance:
  • User profiles: Yes
  • Content filtering: Yes, adult, violent, gaming, social networking, and different filters can be applied to different periods of the day
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: Yes
  • Reporting: Yes
  • Subscription: No

Synology offers parental controls that can be accessed through its free smartphone app (iOS, Android). The following features are available:

  • User profiles
  • Time management (schedules) and time quotas for each day
  • Web filtering of adult and violent content, gaming, and social networking, which can be configured differently throughout the day
  • Monitoring and reporting on a daily, weekly and monthly basis; letting you know how much time was spent online today; any attempts to visit inappropriate sites

That’s a lot of features without having to pay a subscription, though the router is significantly more expensive than TP-Link’s Archer A7, our budget pick. Compared with Netgear Circle, the Synology is only missing the internet pause feature.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.2 stars, 1,233 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 3,000 square feet (280 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: Not stated
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 2.6 Gbps (AC2600)

This router is the fastest in our roundup and has greater coverage than any of the other traditional routers listed in this article. If you’re looking for a quality standalone router with exemplary parental controls, the Synology RT2600ac deserves your consideration.

ASUS RT-AC68U AC1900

ASUS’s RT-AC68U is a basic modem with parental controls.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: No
  • Content filtering: Yes adult sites (sex, violence, illegal), instant messaging and communications, P2P and file transfer, streaming, entertainment
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: No
  • Subscription: No

Parental controls are provided by AiProtection, as well as free mobile apps for iOS and Android. User profiles are not available, but you can set scheduling and filters for individual devices:

  • Web and app filters can individually block adult sites (sex, violence, illegal), instant messaging and communications, P2P and file transfer, streaming, and entertainment.
  • Time scheduling uses a drag-and-drop on a time grid to define when your child can access the internet.

The software can also determine if any connected computers or devices are infected by malware and block them.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.3 stars, 5,184 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: Not stated
  • Number of devices supported: not stated
  • MU-MIMO: No
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.9 Gbps (AC1900)

It’s not a bad basic router at all. Our budget winner, however, the TP-Link Archer A7, offers significantly better parental controls.

Linksys EA7300

The Linksys EA7300 router is a great value but lacks the content filtering available in their Velop mesh router above.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: No
  • Content filtering: No (but this is available on the Linksys Velop above)
  • Time schedule: Yes
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: No
  • Subscription: No

Linksys Shield is not available for this router. You’re able to manage the times your children can access the internet, but not the types of content they can be exposed to.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.2 stars, 11,593 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: 1,500 square feet (140 square meters)
  • Number of devices supported: 10+
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.75 Gbps

The Shield is a basic router at a reasonable price. However, the TP-Link Archer A7 above has the same speed, better coverage and device support, and outstanding parental controls. It’s also cheaper.

D-Link DIR-867 AC1750

The D-Link DIR-867 is a basic router with an impressive consumer rating. When it comes to parental controls, though, there are much better options.

Parental controls at a glance:

  • User profiles: No
  • Content filtering: Yes, block or allow specific websites
  • Time schedule: Yes, block internet access for a period on one or more days
  • Internet pause: No
  • Time quota: No
  • Reporting: No
  • Subscription: No

D-Link’s instructions about parental control (PDF) are very technical. Fortunately, the free mydlink mobile apps (iOS and Android) are much easier to use. Google Assistant, Amazon Echo, and IFTTT are supported. You’re not able to create user profiles, and the features available are quite basic:

  • Blocking specific websites
  • Blocking internet access on a specific device for a period on one or more days

Most parents would expect much more from their router.

Router specs:

  • Consumer rating: 4.5 stars, 5,491 reviews
  • Wireless standard: 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5)
  • Wireless range: Not stated
  • Number of devices supported: Not stated
  • MU-MIMO: Yes
  • Maximum theoretical bandwidth: 1.75 Gbps

Again, if you’re after a basic router, we recommend the TP-Link Archer A7 above.

Alternatives

If you’re not ready to purchase a new router, here are several alternative ways you can keep your kids safe online.

Software Solutions

Also Read: Best Parental Control Software

Hardware Solutions

  • Circle can be added to any network through the purchase of a $99 device. A one or two-year subscription is included with purchase.
  • Ryfi is another $99 device with scheduling and content filtering.

Internet Configuration Solutions

You can add content filtering to your network by pointing DNS server settings to one of these providers:

  • OpenDNS offers free content filtering for families.
  • SafeDNS offers a similar service for $19.95/year.

Change Your Router’s Firmware

Finally, you can change the firmware in some routers to include parental controls. The process can be a little technical. Two good options are: