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You’re in the middle of watching a late-night movie on Netflix with your spouse, when suddenly your Internet comes to a screeching halt, and the movie pauses and starts buffering for the next 20 minutes. It’s enough to make you stick a needle in your eye.

What causes this craziness? Why is the Internet connection suddenly crawling along? Well, if you have kids with mobile devices, laptops or computers in their bedroom, then you’re probably facing a bit of a bandwidth crisis. The odds are pretty good that your kids are probably streaming YouTube videos or music, leaving very little bandwidth left for your streaming movie. So, what’s a solution to this bandwidth shortage? How do you make sure that your kids are actually up in their room sleeping on a school night, and not staying up all night streaming Internet videos?

Well, there are lots of things you can probably do to those devices to monitor your kids’ cell phones 3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android] 3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android] Read More , tablets or their computers Monitor Teenage Computer Use & Detect Inappropriate Content With Care4Teen [Windows] Monitor Teenage Computer Use & Detect Inappropriate Content With Care4Teen [Windows] As my girls grow into young teens, as a father I do tend to worry quite a bit. I worry about them when they go out to a friend's house, I worry about them when... Read More . Doing this, you walk that fine line between monitoring your kids, and spying on them Should Parents Spy On Their Kids? [MUO Debates] Should Parents Spy On Their Kids? [MUO Debates] Do you spy on your kids? If so, why? If not, why not? This is the question at hand today. These are the questions that we're going to explore in this debate. Read More – an issue that our own readership here at MakeUseOf is nearly split on as to whether it’s okay to do. So what’s a parent to do?

Well, one solution is to keep your hands off their devices and just manage your home Internet usage right at the source – right on the router itself.

Managing Home Internet Use

Thankfully, there are all kinds of ways that you can use your router to monitor network traffic to and from the Internet, block traffic during certain times or dates, and even give higher priority to the devices on the network that are more important for the family, regardless how many people are trying to consume the bandwidth. Knowing how to monitor traffic and usage on the router level is important, especially with a family that uses a lot of bandwidth.

The first thing that you’ll want to do in the scenario that I’ve described above is to give your living room entertainment system the highest priority for the bandwidth to and from the Internet. This is known as Quality of Service (QoS). Every router you use will have a setting for this. In the case of Linksys, you can usually find it under Applications & Gaming, where you’ll see a menu item for QoS.

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Under QoS, you’ll need to enable the Internet Access Priority setting. This is where you can assign connection priority to devices. Typically, medium priority is assigned to devices so that even when a particular device requires a lot of bandwidth, it won’t send other connected devices in that network to a standstill. However, I can tell you from experience that if you have a device like a network Internet streamer that keeps locking up because other people are covertly using your bandwidth – setting the device priority at “High” will resolve that little annoyance. It works quite well, and it’s very satisfying.

Logging Internet Traffic

If you’re curious about what’s using up the bandwidth in your home network, there’s no need to run around and installing surveillance equipment 3 Ways To Monitor Your Web Server For Free 3 Ways To Monitor Your Web Server For Free Monitoring your web server is critical for troubleshooting problems when they arise. There are a number of paid systems but these three free web monitoring tools do the job just as well. Read More on every device. Most routers offer the ability to log Internet usage – both incoming and outgoing traffic. In a Linksys router, this option is located in the Administration section, where you’ll find a Log menu item.

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All you have to do is enable logging. Give it a few hours or so, then go back into your router and click on the “View Log” button. Linksys splits log files into incoming, outgoing, security and DHCP client info. Usually, checking out the Outgoing log will give you some idea what websites your kids are visiting.

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Just find the IP address corresponding to their computer in the list, and you can see the Destination URL or IP address on the right. If you see only IP addresses and not web URLs, no worries — just use a Reverse IP tool or website Reverse IP to Domains Lookup: View Websites Hosted on the Same Server Reverse IP to Domains Lookup: View Websites Hosted on the Same Server Read More to look up the domain name. This is probably the fastest, easiest way to quickly get a handle on what your kids are doing on the network that’s consuming so much bandwidth. Odds are pretty good you’ll probably see IP addresses that resolve back to YouTube or maybe even torrent destinations. At least it’ll give you some explanation as to what’s going on – much better than being in the dark with your disappearing bandwidth.

Block Internet Use by Schedule

If you’ve talked with your kids about staying off the Internet late on a school night and they keep ignoring you – sneaking those devices to their bedroom and surfing the web into early morning hours, you have additional options. Routers also give you the ability to block Internet use from your network on set schedules. For example, in our house, we block all Internet access from iPads and laptops after 10 p.m. on school nights.

This isn’t at all complicated to set up. For a Linksys router, you’ll first want to identify the MAC address of the devices you want to limit. You can find this under the Status menu, then “Local Network” and then click on the “DHCP Client Table” button.

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This will pop up a listing of the DHCP Client Table, showing all of the devices currently connected (or recently connected) to your home network. Locate the name of your kids’ devices, and then note the value listed in the MAC Address field. Keep in mind that not all routers are the same, and not even all Linksys models have the same menu system – so you may need to search for these menus on your particular router. There are also online guides and manuals that can help you find these features.

Once you’ve found the MAC address for the devices you want to limit, next you’ll want the “Access Restrictions” menu area, where you’ll find the Internet Access Policy page. Here, you can define a number of different policies for those devices and customize specific rules for Internet access for them.

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Name the policy, enable it, and then edit the list of devices. On the list, you can type in the MAC addresses you’ve recorded from the previous screen. Then save your changes and close that pop-up window.

Finally, all you have to do is define the access restrictions you want to apply to those devices. Click on “Deny” and then set up the schedule you want to use. In my case, I actually have to set up two policies, because of how Linksys requires the start time to be larger than the end time – meaning I can’t set a P.M. start time and an A.M. stop time. So I’ve configured an evening block covering the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. hours.

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Next I created the morning policy for the same devices, blocking access throughout all of the morning hours up until 6 a.m. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to see all of the Internet access policies you’ve created under the dropdown list next to “Access Policy”.

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This is probably one of the most effective ways to manage Internet use (or overuse) on your home network. If you have kids (or anyone living at your house) who just won’t honor your requests to stop using the Internet after a certain time of day, you can take matters into your own hands on the router. Using their MAC address, there’s no way they’ll be able to find a way around it.

Block Certain Internet Behaviors

If you are lucky enough to have kids who listen to you and honor your wishes to make responsible use of the Internet, you may not need to use any of the tips in this article. On the other hand, if you have kids at the opposite end of the spectrum, who tend to do things like use VPN to bypass filters or make use of proxies to torrent free (and illegal) movie downloads, you may need to pull out the big guns.

In your router, under the Security menu item, you have access to a number of tools where you can disable VPN Passthrough, or under the “Firewall” section, enable the blocking of things like JAVA, ActiveX scripts, the use of a proxy and even cookies.

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It doesn’t matter how people on your network configure their browsers, the touter is the source for all Internet access, so it trumps everything. These are the firewall filters that will take precedence, so if you really don’t want people to use proxies, run Java apps, and more – just select the things on this page that you want to block, save your settings, and your network is officially protected from that behavior.

Keep in mind that nothing is 100 per cent bullet-proof. If a hacker is clever enough, they may manage to find a way to hack into your router and change those settings, or find some other way to completely bypass the router itself (do your kids have access to a cellular data plan?). However, these tips will give you at least a few important ways to try and manage what goes on in your home network, and how people access the Internet from it. You may not want to go crazy with these settings right out of the gate, but if you run into any problems with inappropriate use on your network, you have these tools at your fingertips.

  1. andrei
    February 29, 2016 at 2:41 am

    Would of been nice if it explained how to get into lynksis by cicsco, Im lost, how am i suppose to edit all that information

  2. Al Caughey
    November 3, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Kind of late to the discussion but one of the most important first steps to managing your internet usage is to understand what devices are connected to your network and how much data they are consuming, when.

    If you have one of *WRT firmware variants running on your router, my (free) usage monitoring add-on called `YAMon` (short for Yet Another Monitor) does exactly that.

    The data is aggregated by hour, day and month (within your ISP billing interval) and can be rolled-up into arbitrary groups (e.g., by family member or by any other logical grouping of devices). Reports are presented in nicely formatted HTML tables and charts.

    YAMon can be downloaded from http://www.dd-wrt.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=259806

    Al

    (*WRT--> DD-WRT, OpenWRT, AsusWRT)

  3. Tessa Vanooteghem
    July 28, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    It would probably just be easier and faster to use this service called appiom. I'm currently part of the beta and you can just shut off the internet at bed time and they have web filtering.. Super cool. Still in beta til September or something but you should check it out.

  4. Lauren
    April 17, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Haha... Ever heard of total transparancy in Marriage? Do u think after the ring slips on you will morph into a better human being? Sorry aint gonna happen. If u want privacy stay single and do the girl you lie to a favor. You obviously do not consider her as something of value . Needs between women and men are vastly different, none of which are for privacy. This article is amazing and i wish there were more articles online about this very same topic because one less douch bag allowed to get away with heartbreaking someone else is getting out of control. Stop looking at porn because too soon will u come to see that the Johnson will only work for u in a private setting with only a screen. Give ur girl a real chance to be wanted and desired by someome who understands the responsibility .

    • D S
      May 2, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      How do you know its a man? There is nothing that is in that person's statement that suggests it is a man writing it. Maybe you should get off your man hater mode and realize that women cheat too. I have encountered numerous women, i.e.female coworkers, friends of coworkers, etc that were cheating on their husbands and having relationships outside their marriage. Reread the above statemnt with a woman's voice and you may get my point. If you want to play stereotypes, it is more likely that the controlling MAN did the compueter wizardry to monitoir his WOMAN, and now the woman doesnt know how to stop him. See how it can go both ways.

    • Ryan Dube
      May 2, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      DS has an excellent point.

      • Mark Bennett
        June 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        Apart from the fact it says Written by Ryan Dube and has HIS photo next to the article!!!

        • Anonymous
          December 5, 2015 at 3:36 pm

          Mark Bennett, Lauren is replying to the post made by "the one and only" on March 15, 2015, not to the article.

    • Anonymous
      December 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      Lauren, in "the one and only"'s opening statement was written, "I would like to thank all you people for helping my fiance basically monitor my phone..." The word "fiance" refers to "a man engaged to be married". So, the writer is a woman who desires privacy from the man she intends to marry.

  5. the one and only
    March 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I would like to thank all you people for helping my fiance basically moniter my phone...now can someone please help me with a way to basically shut the shit down or get it reversed so i can have my privacy back.....please help with this problem thanks to all again and keep up the work i know there will be someone who will need this in the future.....

  6. Anonymous
    February 27, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    If i have a iphone can parents see what i search.. I have it on private.. How do i acccess the router threw my iphone and delete the history on it... Can i just press the reset butten on the back to clear the search history... ????

  7. Sg
    January 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    I know this article is almost a year old but I have been doing research in this area. Almost no one will touch the settings on their router. In fact, I bet 95% of people don't know the password to it. But now that cable companies are starting to cap data usage like cell phone companies (to protect revenue erosion from untethered TV services), knowing how much and what you are using on your net is going to grow in importance.

    I just think the device that does it will have to be dead solid easy to interact with. In fact, I think you will need to interact with an IPHONE app and have it set the parameters through a "wizard" interface that looks nothing like router config page. Definitely a market for someone that comes along with this!

    • Tessa Vanooteghem
      June 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Check out Appiom. Currently in Beta, but looks amazing.

  8. Larry
    February 1, 2014 at 11:46 am

    When I discovered my sone was visiting a pornography site in the wee hours, I used the host file to route the ip address to a local page that read "Quit looking at dirty pictures and go to bed!"
    Luckily my son has a good sense of humor, because all he said was "Nice one, Dad" but he knew I was watching where he was going, and that's all it took.

    • SI
      May 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      I'm interested in doing the same thing and I'm not very technical, so can you give me some details please on how to do this? Thanks.

  9. Lu
    January 24, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I can think of one more thing that is beneficial from blocking your kids full internet access: maybe he/she will be stimulated in trying to break or go around the obstacles, thus being a great learning experience in the modern technologies, and maybe, just maybe, he will be interested in furthering his knowledge on this and many other related topics.

  10. Aibek E
    January 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

    great article Ryan!

  11. Rohan
    January 24, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Try WebCurfew!

  12. Patch
    January 24, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Please be forewarned, your kids and their friends will start calling you a Net-Nazi. But if you're ok with that, or if you laugh maniacally once they're done angrily screaming and stomp away, this is solid tyran~PARENTAL...parental advice...yes.

    • Kevin
      January 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

      I'm guessing you were trying to make some joke or some obscure point, but there is something to be said about being a parent, not a friend.

  13. ERA
    January 23, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Great piece of advice. Thanks for sharing!

    PS. Small type error at "It doesn’t matter how people on your network configure their browsers, the touter is the source for all Internet access, so it trumps everything."

  14. Ritchie Annand
    January 23, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Just hope that your neighbors don't have an unsecured high-speed router ;)

    • Kevin
      January 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

      Or a cell phone with internet. Although I think you can control when they're allowed on their phones with some things for a low price of your left arm.

  15. Luc S
    January 23, 2014 at 9:45 am

    The problem with using OpenDNS on the router is that you shoot yourself in the foot:
    Blocking certain sites/activities (YouTube, torrenting, gaming) means they are blocked *for all devices* on the router, even your own...

    I finally solved the issue with my son by :
    * OpenDNS-ing his IP adress on his laptop
    * downgrading his user account from administrator to normal user

  16. Victor O
    January 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

    I'd love to try this out on a network which I need to control, but it's hopelessly outdated...

    • Kevin
      January 24, 2014 at 8:44 am

      Not sure what part is outdated, but this tech has been around since the beginning of high speed internet (or even 56k). Just might need to follow different procedures.

  17. Current User
    January 22, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I do this with Tomato on my 3000.

  18. Donna
    January 22, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks! Has Critter got a surprise coming tonight! (he is only 11)

  19. Kenton
    January 22, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    These are great examples. I also like to use the OpenDNS service to do content filtering. It is way more efficient and effective than putting filters on individual devices (and it's free). This way no matter what device your kid is using, they get the same filters. The only requirement is you have to be able to manually configure DNS settings on your router.

  20. Justin D
    January 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Wow this is insanely helpful, especially for people like me with no experience with WiFi routers. Thanks much!

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