Router, Appliance, or Software: Which One Keeps Kids Safest Online?

If you're a parent today, you've certainly faced the modern parenting dilemma: how do you keep your kids safe online, and how do you make sure they’re not spending all their time there? You've probably also faced the many choices when it comes to putting restrictions on your home internet. There are software programs, appliances, apps, and routers, all with different approaches to Parental Controls.

The choices are overwhelming!

The ideal solution should be simple, effective, and secure. It shouldn’t slow down your internet speed, and it should give you a better understanding of how your kids use the internet.
So what are your options?

Parental Control Software: software you install on each device your child uses to manage content and screen time. Think: NetNanny

Parental Control Appliances: devices that attach to your network and intercept the internet traffic to enact filtering and screen time features. Think: Circle

WiFi Routers: routers with added parental features and simplified home management. This tackles the problem at its very root; the source of WiFi for your home. Think: Torch

And based on what parents really need from their Parental Controls, here is how a router, an appliance, and software compare.

1. Simplicity

Is it simple to use?

Router - A
With a router, all of the management is centralized to one spot. Torch gives you a simple dashboard where you can manage kids by profiles that include all the devices they use. And everyone needs a router anyway, so you're not having to add a new gadget to your tech repertoire.
Appliance - A
You still get the device management centralized to one spot which keeps it simple. But with an appliance, you're adding a new piece of hardware to your world. Kids yelling that the iPad stopped working? Now you've got to check if the internet's out or if the appliance stopped working.
Software - C
Software solutions require you to download the software on every device a child uses. Rather than centralizing the management, you still have to chase down devices and keep software up-to-date.

2. Level of Control

Does it allow you to control what your kids see online and manage their time?

Router - B
The router controls everything under the home WiFi, allowing a great deal of control over your network; internet pause button, reporting on kids' screen time, filtering for bad content, and customizable bedtimes. But any devices on 3G/LTE, rather than WiFi, won't be under that safety net. (Good news: Torch does have a mobile solution in the works to accompany their router.)
Appliance - B
As an interceptor to your network, an appliance would also only manage the devices on WiFi. Some offer a companion solution for mobile.
Software - B
While software can be downloaded on mobile devices and allows some pretty granular control on computers, it doesn’t work on many devices like gaming systems, smart TVs, and even some e-readers.

3. Security

Can kids bypass it?

Router - A
Our kids are outpacing us with technology so it's always good to stay a step ahead. If they can get around it, what's the point of Parental Controls? A router is the most difficult of the three for an enterprising kid to bypass. Since it controls the internet from the source, if the router is tampered with that means no more WiFi.
Appliance - B
An appliance that attaches to your network can also be unattached from your network. Kids can unplug it, or if they're particularly crafty, reset your router back to factory settings.
Software - C
There are quite a few ways kids get around software. Trust us on this, our kids have outwitted us more than once. They can use a proxy server, uninstall the software from the device, log in under a different user, or use a browser the software doesn’t work with to name a few. This isn't the right choice for the tech-savvy kids.

4. Internet Speed

Does it slow down your internet?

Router - A
Let's face it: slow WiFi is worse than a rock in your shoe. A router is the gateway for internet to the home, so it won't affect the internet's performance. Torch keeps your WiFi humming along, and with recent industry standard upgrades to AC routers, it's likely to improve your internet in both range and speed. With 1 Gigabit-per-second speed and 6 smart antennas, you'll get great coverage and super-fast speed.
Appliance - B
An appliance intercepts the WiFi coming into your home, analyzes it, and then filters it from there. This extra step adda lag time which slows down your internet speed.
Software - C
Because the software runs persistently in the background of the device, it can slow down the performance of that device in general. Though it doesn't directly affect WiFi, it can slow down the operation of the device.

After investigating the options, it was a no-brainer which road to take in creating Torch. A router is the most secure, simple solution. It offers the most control over the home network without slowing things down. And so we built a beautifully designed, top-of-the-line router, and added all the features parents today need to parent their kids on the internet.

Because a router allows you to manage your whole network, it opens doors for so much more. You can discover insights and patterns in your children's internet behaviors. And not only that, you can learn from others. What apps are trending with 8 year old boys? What is the average age kids get their first social media account? If my daughter is into photography, what are some top sites where she can go develop that passion?

That's what a Parental Control solution should offer: not just control, but also knowledge for the parents. It should be a way to learn more about your children's online lives, and find a way to connect with them based on those interests. And connecting with our kids is really what it's all about.

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