Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How do I slow down my router at night?

Question: My wireless internet works very well. At night, my son will not get off the net. I want to slow down the internet to a crawl by changing a setting in the router so that my son will go to sleep. Can you tell me what setting I can change in the router that slows the speed down by say, 75%?

Controlling children’s internet activity is nothing new. Parents have been dealing with that (or fighting their kids over it) since people started having home computers.

Unfortunately I am not aware of any consumer-grade (in other words, affordable) routers that do what you ask. I’m not aware of any standard setting that will somehow throttle the internet speed.

But there are alternatives.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Few kid-proof solutions

I have to start out with a fairly big caveat that many parents have a difficult time accepting.

If there are routers that have parental and other kinds of controls that might be able to do something, your kids are probably smarter about this than you think. Or they have friends who are.

Ultimately, whatever you end up putting in place may be easily bypassed. This is is something I hear often. Many parents put technological solutions in place only to have their children just sneak around it somehow.

Your child on the internetLow-tech solutions

I have heard of parents doing something a little bit lower tech: they put the power supply for the router on a timer. Just a regular old lamp timer so that the router shuts down at a certain time of night. In the morning, it turns itself back on again.

There’s actually nothing wrong with doing that. It shouldn’t harm the router. It’s just that the internet and probably your local network will be completely gone until the router is turned on again in the morning.

You do have to be aware that you want the router and the timer to be physically secure. In other words, you want those things to be in a location where your children can’t access them. Naturally if all they need to do is unplug the timer and plug in the router again, they’re going to do exactly that.

Ultimately, I don’t have any great solutions for this. I am posting this article so that perhaps some of the readers who have children and face issues like this in their own homes will have some ideas for us.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

17 comments on “How do I slow down my router at night?”

  1. Many if not all routers have the ability to limit access to the internet during certain times. For example for my Linksys router there is a tab for access restrictions that lets you set up policies to block access to the internet, a particular web site, or other web application at whatever time of the day you designate. You can even set up policies that only apply to certain computers on the network.

    While the light timer works too, with a strong router password this is probably more secure and work work better in my case because I could tailor it to not shut down my VOIP phone.

    • any router passwords can be bypassed, just by pressing the reset button and entering the default password(until the parents get home).

      • The good news there is that it can be obvious then that the router was tampered with. But it’s also another argument for a) physical security, and b) being the parent. :-)

    • “Many if not all routers …” interesting then that in all the routers I’ve played with, even recently, that I’ve never seen this feature even once. It’s good to know that there are routers that’ll do it, but I’d take issue with the “many if not all”. Definitely check the capabilities of a router you’re about to purchase if this is important.

      • Really? I’ve never had a router that didn’t have settings where you couldn’t specify access times for each PC tied to the network. I have always used Linksys routers exclusively, tho. I know my several WRT54 all had it. Like was mentioned tho- reset it and it’s reset to default. I currently use the Cisco EA6500 which can be configured to allow setup on line via an account you set up with them. It doesn’t allow manually entering the router address when the WiFi feature is enabled although you CAN unplug it from the modem and force it to accept a manual entry. It’s a double edge sword tho because I had the misfortune of needing to change some settings and Cisco’s servers were down so I had to find a work around.

        One feature it has which may be parent friendly is it has a guest account with entirely different credentials to allow access without giving away your network info. I’m not sure what restrictions it places on users. I don’t have kids and my cats can’t work my PC although they will create some interesting ‘finds’ for me from walking/sleeping on the keyboard when I bring up the monitor. Anyway, the 6500 was the highest priced of the new router series but the less expensive models -4500, 3500, etc, still share many features the 6500 has. They may well be worth checking out.

  2. When it comes to kids and computers, I like to tell my clients to stick with simple solutions. . . .

    1. Change the administrative passwords on the router, and use GOOD ones the kids won’t guess. For example, a password I used to use, it’s been changed is “LoggingIntoThisRouterIsABadIdea!”. Long to type, difficult to guess, but easy to remember. If your router doesn’t allow such a long password, use “Litriabi!”

    2. Keep the router in a secure location as Leo mentioned. Your bedroom is a good idea, if your kid tries sneaking in there, you have bigger problems to deal with.

    3. Some routers have some form of parental controls where you can disconnect the Internet from certain computers after a certain time of day, but still allow access to the local network (so he can still print his term paper to the networked printer) – I think this can even be done by MAC address. However, failing that option, the lamp timer still works – or just unplug it yourself.

    4. Finally, and most importantly, BE THE FRIGGING PARENT. If you don’t want the kid on the Internet after 2200, then don’t let him be on the Internet, and enforce your own rules. Don’t allow excuses from them or yourself. If that means they can’t get their school work done, tough. If they know the Internet shuts down at 2200, they need to prioritize around that – it’s a useful skill in the real world.

  3. The simple solution is to start being a parent! Children should NEVER be allowed unmonitored access to an internet-connected computer. Remove the computer to a family living space. Tell your child that “switch off” means just that. YOU are the parent, YOU control when and how your child uses a computer – stop opting out of your parental responsibilities.

    • But remember not to be too overbearing. Children will become resentful if you act arrogantly to them. Remember, they are people too, and respect helps.

  4. Scorps’ reply posted while I was typing mine. A great description that expands nicely on my #3 – I agree with his thoughts, don’t necessarily want to shut down everything like would happen with the lamp timer.

    Lamp timer is still a nice backup solution if things get bad.

  5. Agree 100% with Terry Wiseman. There is a “But”…….

    Here goes – this is fine for younger children. In fact my eldest has only had a laptop in her room for 12 months – she’s fifteen now. The other house PC’s are only in communal areas (except this one, mine, which is verboten for access). All PC accounts of the children are Time Access Limited using Windows Family Safety settings, and all the children, teenager included, are well aware of the timing rules. Doing my parent bit yes.
    But – devices have changed. PC’s are *not* the only internet connected devices that our children have access to. Teenager has an iPhone. Second eldest (he’s eleven) has an iPad with 3G and wifi. Can you see where I’m going here? Yes, turn off the router (or switch off Family Settings) to restrict their internet :: and all they have to do is disable wifi, connect to 3G, and bingo! Unfettered internet access is fully 100% live again, albeit perhaps a bit slower. No need to have a knowledgeable friend to tell them that – they can work it out for themselves.

    So, don’t rely upon a software or a hardware solution. Nothing beats eyeball observation, a canny suspicion, and firm rules in place. As Terry said, be the parent. But expect workarounds……!!

  6. There are routers, or more properly Router Firmware, out there that does allow many options with regard to throttling or completely blocking throughput to specific MAC addresses or IP addresses. I believe current Linksys Router’s Firmware allows this function. But there is also the open source option, DD-WRT.
    Now I understand this can get a bit complicated and may be above the heads of some (possbily most) readers but none-the-less, the option should be relayed. Assuming your current router allows custom firmware (read: is supported by DD-WRT or Tomato) you can rather easily flash the new firmware to the router’s chip. If the user is willing to do a little bit of reading on the respective Firmware Organization’s website, many options can be opened up to the router administrator.
    I personally recommend DD-WRT as I work with it a lot, find it quite stable, and is rather easy to use. Yes, there are plenty of options that most will not need but there are many features that are of great use, especiallyto the extent of the main question in this article.
    If your router is not supported by DD-WRT or is a router provided by your ISP then you have, of course, the option to purchase a seperate or new router that is supported by DD-WRT, flash the new firmware, and play with the new settings. It is rather easy to setup a 2ndary router from which your kids connect and you connect to the main router. However you choose to setup the system, many options abound.

  7. I use a router that has a second “guests” wifi channel. The kids only have the password to the guest channel and at the appropriate time I simply turn that off.

  8. Check out K9 web filter. It’s free, can restrict access to certain sites, categories of sites, and limit time online.

  9. For the longest time I had every kid in the area using my computer. When I wanted them done so I could go on with my life they would talk me into leaving them on for an hour or so longer.

    One day I bought a remote control power switch and plugged the router into it. It looked just like more electronic junk plugged in and nobody caught on. When their time was up I would just push the off button and the connection was gone. Naturally I would curse the ISP and all was well. When we got cell service they had more computing power in their pocket so no more problem. Remote is a good way to go.

    • Like the idea of the remote, but not lying to the kids by cursing the ISP. If I used the button, I would simply tell them “Time’s up!” And any arguments would be quickly quashed with “You know the rules.”

      Am I the “meanest parent ever” according to my 12 year old daughter. Of course.

  10. The thing that many parents fail to realize is that many solutions, even those suggested in the comment section, are not only easy to circumvent given a little bit of creativity but also extremely annoying. A lot of these solutions actually encourage the child to associate getting off the internet with something frustrating and getting and staying on the internet with both the forbidden fruit and the endgame or goal. This isn’t what you want. Find a way to get your child’s cooperation in the issue and you’ll find that both your relationship with your child and your ability to exercise control over your child will improve.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.