One of the most important elements of connecting to the outside world via the internet is your router. Whether you have a single PC connected via an Ethernet cable, or multiple devices connected via wireless, your router is your devices’ pivotal point of contact – surpassed only by your modem, which is your router’s point of contact. To put it simply, no one goes to the internet without first talking to the modem and they have to first be allowed through by the router to get there.
When it comes to online family safety, and given the importance of the router, why would you leave its setup to your teenager? Many years ago, the answer to this question was simple: given the then-cumbersome nature of router configuration, many parents who lacked the tech savvy nature of a generation born into it only had the choice of their teen or their cable guy. Even today if you rent your router from your cable provider (which often comes as a modem / router combo), you may feel compelled to let the cable guy just handle it. But if you purchase your own router, which I suggest you should, you can rest assured that the days of the overwhelmingly complicated router setup are long gone.
Years ago when I used to do a lot more freelance PC repair work than I do now, I found myself in far too many situations whereas I needed a client’s network password and they could only answer, “oh, I let my son set that up – I don’t know what it is.” I would have to bite my tongue to keep from asking, “so, did you let him set up your bank account as well?”. Instead, I would simply factory reset their router and teach them how to set it up themselves, and explain the importance as to why they should have the ultimate control of their router – not their teen aged son.
I’ve also assisted with unfortunate circumstances in which the parents simply could not trust what their children may be doing online after hours. Having ultimate control of your router also gives you the ability to set the hours in which the internet can be accessible. You can make this setting apply to internet access to the entire house at certain hours, or to specific devices on your home network. Again, the point here is that you configure these settings, not your child.
You may have already noticed something missing from this post. Although I can’t stress enough the importance that you set up your own router, what I can’t do is tell you how to do so. Why? Because just like most things all routers are different, so set up is dependent on which model you buy. Sure, I could make this a super long entry, and go on and on about specific router models or even post links to the most popular models’ user manuals. However, EVERY MODEM comes with its own manual. Many are only a few pages long, as they should be. They usually contain the basic information you’ll need to get started – the administrator user name and password (which you should change ASAP), and a link to more in-depth setting information. Some routers, like my Netgear router, actually have on-screen instructions built in once you log into the router. I repeat – what’s most important is that you take a few minutes to set up your router. Trust me – if you can create a Facebook account, log in, and write posts, you can log into and set up your router. It is just that easy! And if you are in the unfortunate situation where there is someone in your home struggling with internet usage, your router is an extremely important part to helping heal and rebuild.