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As a parent of three children with mild internet addictions, I’m all too familiar with the problem of children eating whilst covertly watching a YouTube video on their phone. And I know other people who have similar problems with their adults. So how do you stop kids of all ages using Wi-Fi at the dinner table?
In case you’re still living with the small black box that came bundled with your broadband, take note: the new generation of “whole home” routers not only boost your download speeds and hugely reduce the number of Wi-Fi deadspots in your house, but some also offer enhanced parental controls.
Step 1: Stop Wi-Fi the easy but brute force way
BT Whole Home Wi-Fi makes it dead simple to stop Wi-Fi: there’s a huge button that says PAUSE at the top-right of the app. Press it and, within a second or two, the internet will indeed pause. You can restore service by pressing the equally huge RESUME button on the screen.
Step 2: Assign phones, laptops etc to your child
Whilst wholesale blocking of Wi-Fi works wonders, your husband, wife or live-in gardener may object when their internet connection suddenly drops off. That’s why you may want to create a group specific to one child, or indeed all of your children.
First, head to Devices on the app – tap the phone-shaped icon in the middle of the screen. You’ll see a screen as below.
Click ADD A GROUP. For the sake of this guide, I’m assuming you want to control access per child. And that your child is called Adam. So enter “Adam” as the group name.
The next step is to work out which devices belong to Adam and assign them appropriately.
Arguably, this involves the toughest part of the job: physically place all of Adam’s devices next to a convenient Whole Home Wi-Fi disc. Either do this when Adam is asleep and not in a position to cry at your heartless action of separating him from his kit, or bribe him with chocolate. I recommend Cadbury’s Fudge.
All of Adam’s devices will now be connected to your chosen disc, which you’ll have given an appropriate name (eg Bedroom) during the setup process. It’s now easy pickings to work out that Android-DM673234AB is his phone rather than anyone else’s (tip: you may want to move your devices out of the way to avoid confusion).
Step 3: Block your child
This sounds harsher than it is! All you’re really doing is temporarily pausing the internet for young Adam. Again, head to Devices on the app by tapping the phone-shaped icon in the middle of the screen.
Tap on Adam under Group and select Access Controls. If you’ve assigned more than five devices to your child, you may need to scroll down the page. The screen looks something like this:
Now you’ll have a choice of three controls. The one we’re interested in here is for a “Timed Pause” – for example, you can pause the internet for an hour, until morning, or until a time of your choosing.
Note that you can also set a bedtime from the Access Controls, or a custom schedule based on the day of the week. And that’s it!
All this advice applies to the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi, which you can buy for £189 from the BT Shop. That buys you a three-pack of discs, which is more than enough for a four-bedroom detached house. A two-pack is fine for flats or smaller houses. And if you discover your palatial pad needs more, then you can add more discs.