A couple of weeks ago, my 9-year-old daughter had a friend sleepover. I planned plenty of hands-on interactive activities for them, like baking and arts and crafts. Yet, after dinner, they asked me if they could play Roblox. I totally saw it coming — still, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point of having a friend over was if they weren’t going to actually socialize. They explained to me that they would chat… online. While sitting in the same room. *Sigh*
I often feel conflicted between wanting to be the “nice mom” and my stricter side when it comes to my kid’s screen time limitations. This time, I gave in and went to bed, asking them to please turn off their tablets by 10 p.m. Did they? No. In fact, my daughter later reported that they had played online until 2:30 a.m. Now, I’m not exactly a tech genius, but I wondered if there was an easy solution to this screen dilemma so I wouldn’t have to be the bad guy the next time or fumble around in the dark while trying to pull the literal plug on the Wi-Fi.
After a little research and some help from a family member who happens to be a legit tech genius, I found it is entirely possible (and pretty simple) to set up auto Wi-Fi shut-off. Of course, there are tons of parental control apps that can limit your child’s internet access. However, this old-school workaround is just as easy and works with most home routers, letting you set access limits for any given device — even yours, so you’ll stop scrolling Instagram until midnight.
How to Set Up Auto Wi-Fi Shut-Off
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you keep your kids from sneaking games and videos all night.
1. Locate Your Router
Your router is a small box that distributes internet connection to other devices in your home and is usually found next to the modem. If you look on the back panel, you’ll find a sticker with information like the model and, more importantly, your router’s login information.
2. Log in to Your Router Admin Controls
To access most standard router admin controls, type http://192.168.1.1 into your browser’s address bar and use the login information provided on the back panel. By default, both the username and password are usually set to “Admin.” Once you’re logged in, it’s a good idea to change it to something more secure.
3. Access Parental Controls
On the main page, click on the “Control” options, sometimes labeled “Access Controls.” This will take you to more options, including “Parent Controls.” Select the device(s) you want to limit.
4. Set Up a Wi-Fi Schedule
You can set up all devices in your home to follow one schedule or set a different schedule for each device. The scheduling options are pretty flexible, allowing you to turn off Wi-Fi during certain hours or even by day.
Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Setting Up Auto Wi-Fi Shut-Off
Will your kids almost certainly stage a mini coup when they realize what you’ve done? Sure. But, as with all things, they’ll get over it. The reality is screen time and digital technology have been proven to affect your kid’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep — it’s thought that blue light may suppress melatonin levels, which delays sleepiness.
And sleep is important! Preschoolers need 10-13 hours per night, elementary school kids need 9-11, and teens need 8-10. So, go ahead and set that auto Wi-Fi shut-off if you’ve noticed your kid dragging in the mornings. They may not appreciate your efforts now, but one day they’ll understand.