Setting up parental controls and monitoring for every laptop, smartphone, games console and PC in your home can be a lot of work. Not every device supports parental controls.
We compiled a list of smart parental control devices that plug straight into your home Wi-Fi router and let you set controls for the whole house with a single app.
Circle with Disney
We start off with the most well-known solution. Circle partnered with Disney to create a product that plugs straight into your home Wi-Fi router and lets you manage every device on your network.
It lets you set up time limits and content controls for apps and websites. You also get a pause button for the Internet — turn off your kid’s Internet access at any time.
Best of all you can configure it differently for every child in your household.
Circle’s slick mobile app lets you configure all of these settings and it works with iPhone and Android.
Price: $99 / £99
KoalaSafe is quite similar to Circle but it’s slightly cheaper. In both cases you don’t need to buy a standalone router; it plugs straight into your existing Wi-Fi router and works its magic.
It also lets you set time limits and block certain sites and apps. You can filter by specific categories. You configure all of this through the KoalaSafe smartphone app.
KoalaSafe operates slightly differently to Circle, though. It creates a second Wi-Fi network in your home that your kid’s devices will connect to instead of the main router (i.e. don’t tell them the password for the main router!)
Price: $89 / £69
unGlue is less well-known and works a little differently. Instead of buying a standalone device you run the unGlue Home Monitor software on your home computer. The downside of this is that you need to leave that computer running at all times.
It lets you set simple screen time settings, pause the Internet and a few other things — but filtering does not seem to be supported.
They also offer an app called unGlue for Kids that lets your kids monitor their own usage and see how much time they have remaining. You can even set them chores in exchange for extra screen time.
An interesting bonus feature with unGlue is something they call Steps4Time. It monitors the number of steps your kid has taken today and lets you reward them for being more active.
Price: starts from $7/mo (no physical device is needed)
Clean Router takes a different approach to most of the other devices on this list — it’s a standalone device that plugs into your modem and replaces your entire Wi-Fi network.
You can set time restrictions and filters.
Like KoalaSafe it also lets you filter by certain apps and web sites. Thanks to their so-called IntelliFilter system you can filter intelligently by nine different categories like “violence” and “weapons”.
Price: starts from $12.99/mo (the device is free or $199.99 for the advanced version)
The downside to the approach that all of these products take is that they can all be circumvented by your kid simply using their phone or computer offline. If your kid has mobile data (3G or 4G) then none of these restrictions will apply.
If you’re worried about this then you may want to look at installing a parental control app directly on their smartphone.
They also won’t prevent your kid’s Xbox or PlayStation games consoles from being used offline. Kids can still play single-player games even if the Internet is filtered.