TP-Link Archer AX50Source: TP-Link

Best Routers with Parental Controls Android Central 2020

These are the best routers with parental controls to help you make sure your family is using the internet in a healthy and productive way. As more families work and study from home, staying on task is harder than ever, so these routers should help you out. The TP-Link Archer AX50 ticks just about as many boxes as possible with its great speeds and capacity alongside the robust and free HomeCare software offering parental controls, quality of service optimization, and antivirus protection.

TP-Link Archer AX50Source: TP-Link

HomeCare is a service powered by Trend Micro that comes with easy parental controls, quality of service enhancements, and antivirus protection. HomeCare is included with several of TP-Links routers, including the Archer AX50 as well as a few other routers including Deco mesh systems. It also works with Alexa. Watch out for the nearly identical Archer AX3000 variant sold at some retailers as this version is not listed to work with HomeCare.

HomeCare allows you to set up a profile for each family member and their devices. This allows you to control the type of content available to all of their devices at once. You can start with one of HomeCare's presets — child, pre-teen, teen, and adult — and it'll load a set of filters. Of course, each profile can be customized to block more or fewer categories with choices like gaming, gambling, and adult content.

Otherwise, the Archer AX50 is just a good router. It has a nicely balanced spec sheet with AX3000 wireless speeds broken down between two bands. The 2.4GHz band can deliver up to 574Mbps while the 5GHz band can push up to 2,402Mbps with Wi-Fi 6. Older devices will work without issue on this router as well. Four Ethernet ports on the back let you hook up your wired devices. TP-Link recommends this router for a three-bedroom home.

Pros:

  • Antivirus and parental controls included
  • AX3000 speeds can handle the whole family
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • Works with Alexa

Cons:

  • Only dual-band
  • Fairly expensive

Best Overall

TP-Link Archer AX50

Next-generation capacity with great free software

The TP-Link Archer AX50 delivers AX3000 speeds with HomeCare including robust parental controls and antivirus protection.

Best Value: Asus RT-AC66U

ASUS routerSource: Android Central

The Asus RT-AC66U isn't the fastest router in 2020 by a long stretch but with its AC1750 Wi-Fi 5 connection, which is capable of 450Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1,300Mbps at 5GHz, it should be enough for a small family with light multimedia usage. There are also four gigabit Ethernet ports on the back between two of the three external antennas as well as a USB 3.0 port, which make it easy to connect your wired devices.

Quite a few Asus routers are compatible with its AiProtection software powered by Trend Micro. It comes with quite a few features that could be helpful for parents, including scheduling for individual user profiles as well as usage stats. You can also block content with a set of filters like adult, illegal and violence, and gambling. This flexible setup allows you to decide exactly what your child can do online and when they can do it.

Pros:

  • Free AiProtection
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • AiMesh support
  • AC1750 Wi-Fi is enough for most people

Cons:

  • Only dual-band
  • Design is dated
  • Not super high speeds
  • No Wi-Fi 6

Best Value

Asus RT-AC66U

All of the features with just enough speed

The Asus RT-AC66U delivers solid Wi-Fi 5 speeds with AiProtection offering great security and AiMesh allowing easy expansion.

Best Wi-Fi 6 Value: Asus RT-AX56U

Asus RT-AX56USource: Asus

Asus was one of the first to release consumer Wi-Fi 6 devices and has managed to bring its AiProtection service to all of them as well as quite a few older Wi-Fi 5 routers. The RT-AX56U is a great entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router for many families thanks to its relatively low price and adequate AX1800 dual-band speeds. With a Wi-Fi 6 device, these speeds break down into 574Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1201Mbps at 5GHz. This router also supports mesh expansion with other Asus routers with AiMesh.

Asus includes AiProtection software with many of its newer routers. With AiProtection you get profile settings for each of your family members and their devices. You can schedule times to enable or disable the internet on these profiles as well as blocking content with different keywords like adult, gaming, illegal, and violence. AiProtection also comes with antivirus protection from Trend Micro that can eliminate threats before they reach your devices.

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi 6 for future devices
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • Free AiProtection
  • AiMesh support

Cons:

  • Only dual-band
  • Expensive compared to fast Wi-Fi 5 routers

Best Wi-Fi 6 Value

Asus RT-AX56U

Wi-Fi 6 with AiMesh and AiProtection

The Asus RT-AX56U has a ton of great features including Wi-Fi 6 support as well as mesh expansion and AiProtection security.

Best Mesh: Nest Wifi router

Nest Wifi RouterSource: Nick Sutrich/Android Central

Nest Wifi is the newest generation of mesh routers from Google and as such, takes full advantage of Google's consistent software updates and great support for mesh expansion. With AC2200 dual-band speeds on the base router, Nest Wifi router will be fast enough for most people and on its own can cover up to 2.200 square feet. It can be expanded with an AC1200 Nest Wifi point or even the older AC1200 Google Wifi.

With Google Wifi, you can set up family profiles and enable content filters with the Google SafeSearch function. While this is less flexible than many parental control systems, it should manage to block most adult sites from your selected devices. Keep in mind that with this software, you don't get to set specific content filters and meaning you won't be able to block content like games specifically. You do still get to set usage schedules, however.

Pros:

  • Consistent updates from Google
  • Google Assistant compatible
  • Expand with other Nest and Google Wifi nodes
  • Site blocking provided by Google SafeSearch

Cons:

  • No Wi-Fi 6
  • Mesh points are significantly slower than routers
  • No antivirus included

Best Mesh

Nest Wifi router

Software and updates from Google

Nest Wifi taps into Google's database to block sites that don't meet its SafeSearch standards while delivering AC2200 speeds.

Best for Gaming: Netgear Nighthawk R8000

Netgear Nighthawk R8000Source: Netgear

The Nighthawk name is associated with powerful routers that offer great speeds and a high-quality connection for gamers. The AC3200-capable R8000 delivers a tri-band connection that works with dual-band 5GHz devices. With 600Mbps possible on the 2.4GHz band and 1300Mbps on both of the 5GHz bands, this router should be able to keep up with just about anything today, including gaming thanks to Nighthawk's Dynamic QoS.

While gaming isn't the first concern for many people looking for parental control, this router allows you to keep speeds high and pings low for gamers while making sure your kids only play when they're allowed with parental controls. Circle Smart Parental Controls make it easy to take control of your network usage. Simply download the Android or iOS app and open it while connected to your compatible Netgear router. You'll be guided through a setup process and will be able to set up a profile for each family member with custom rules for when and how they're allowed to access the internet.

Circle will try to sell you a Premium plan that includes some nice extras but the free version will be enough for most families. Still, if you manage a few profiles daily, the aformentioned extras include usage management, time limits, and even rewards could be worth the extra $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year price.

Pros:

  • Fast AC3200 speeds
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi supports more devices
  • Four Ethernet ports
  • Circle Smart Parental Control is included

Cons:

  • Large device with six antennas
  • Netgear Armor addon is expensive at $70 per year
  • Circle Premium plan costs extra

Best for Gaming

Netgear Nighthawk R8000

Circle parental controls with Nighthawk gaming software

The Nighthawk R8000 delivers fast tri-band AC3200 speeds with Nighthawk's great gaming QoS and Circle parental control support.

Best with a Subscription: eero

Eero Mesh WiFi System (gen 3)Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

Quite a few router manufacturers offer paid security solutions for their products but Eero manages to stand apart thanks to its lower prices and great app (though you can't upgrade your plan from within the iOS app). You'll need to use the Android app or a web browser. Eero Secure comes with improved network security and a filter to block inappropriate content on a per device or profile basis. The app will also show how devices are using the network. This level is available for $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year.

There is an upgraded plan called Eero Secure+ that comes with a password manager, a secure VPN service, and Malwarebytes antivirus software. This plan is $9.99 per month or $99 per year and won't be a good value for most people.

The standard Eero system is based on a dual-band Wi-Fi 5 solution that Eero recommends only for connections up top 350Mbps, though we regularly achieved over 400Mbps in our review. Each Eero router has two Ethernet ports on the back that can be used for either wired devices or a wired backhaul. This mesh system isn't a great value on the spec sheet but makes up a lot of ground thanks to its great design and easy user experience.

Pros:

  • Easy expansion with other eeros
  • Great app with statistics
  • Tiny size makes them easy to blend in

Cons:

  • Slow Wi-Fi 5 speeds
  • Only two Ethernet ports per node
  • Secure+ plan not worth it for most

Best with a Subscription

Eero

Compact mesh nodes with a simple setup

With Eero Secure and an Eero mesh, you get great coverage as well as content filtering, ad blocking, and additional security.

Bottom line

Nearly any router you buy from a reputable brand will have some sort of parental controls but for the most part, these simpler versions of parental controls are much more limited and often expect parents to come up with their own site blacklist which is a lot of work and not very effective in the end. Don't forget as well that most modern operating systems include some sort of parental control capabilities if you want to cover all of your bases. Luckily, many of the routers with great parental controls are also some of the best wireless routers you can buy.

For most people, having an automatically curated list of blocked content such as that offered by TP-Link's HomeCare is going to be one of the most effective implementations thanks to its straightforward and powerful feature set. The TP-Link Archer AX50 is a great home Wi-Fi upgrade for most people thanks to its solid speed offerings, HomeCare inclusion, and even Alexa Support.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

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