Saturday, March 23, 2013

Restrict WiFi Access For Certain Devices

The Internet and Your Kids

Are you concerned about what your children are doing online? Do you worry about them getting online while they are supposed to be asleep? An Internet connection is required  for many apps in order to function properly so even if your child is not accessing the Internet directly using Safari or Google Chrome for example, they would need that connection in order to SnapChat, text, or use Facetime. I know it would cause me some concern if my kids were SnapChatting in the wee hours of the morning. Here is a link to a recent blog entry on why we should be concerned about that.

SnapChat Not As Private As You Think

Did you know that you might be able to restrict their access to the Internet by making some configuration changes on your WiFi router? All you need is the MAC address of the device or computer and access to your WiFi router. I am going to provide a very broad explanation for this because I realize that not all the WiFi devices out there are going to look the same. I hope that the context and ideas can at least help you as a partial guide. This process is not for the faint at heart so continue at your own risk. LOL

Finding the MAC Address

Here are some steps to finding the MAC address on an iPhone, iPod, or iPad. The images are taken from an iPhone but the steps should be similar on another Apple iDevice.

1.  Start by finding the Settings icon. I have this one isolated and highlighted but it may not be in the same location on your device.

2.  Once you get to the Settings page, go to the General settings menu.

3.  Once you are on the General page - go to the About page.

4.  On the About page, scroll down a little until you find the Wi-Fi Address. This is also known as the MAC address (Media Access Control). It should be composed of 12 characters and can take on a few different formats. A common format is the one found on an Apple device - (XX : XX : XX : XX : XX : XX) - using a colon separating every group of two characters. These addresses are unique.

Jot this MAC address down because we will need it once we access the WiFi router.

Access Your WiFi Router

Okay - this is where things can get kinda tricky. The first thing we need to do is attempt to log into the router itself - that means finding it on the network. We do this through your favorite web browser such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or whatever you are using so you will need a network connected device to do this. It can be tricky because not all devices are going to look the same, have the same default settings, or have the same configuration options.

A popular method of accessing the device is by typing the IP Address into your browsers address bar. By default, many routers have an IP Address of but I have encountered a few that have something slightly different.

1.  So... this is a great place to start. Go ahead and type the IP Address in the browser after it comes up. If this is the correct address you should get some sort of login prompt similar to the one shown below.

2.  At this point - go ahead and enter your Username and Password if you changed them or know what they are. Chances are good that this has never been changed so it will need the default credentials. This might require a little trial and error but here are a few options to try. The first word is the username and the second word is the password.

  • admin admin
  • admin password
  • administrator password
  • administrator admin
  • admin - (leave password blank)
  • administrator - (leave password blank)
  • You might also check the underside of your device as it might be listed there.
A word of caution - you might consider changing the password so that others cannot easily hack the device and mess with your settings or "borrow" your connection.

3.  Once you have successfully logged in. you should be taken to the home screen of your device user interface. Again, this is a tricky piece since they will all look different. It will be necessary to look for some visual clues here. We need to find the place where we can restrict access for devices. You may need to hunt around depending on your device. It could be under generic headings such as Settings or Administration. It is also possible that with a lower end device the functionality may not be there. In my case, I actually have a tab called Access Restrictions so I went there.

On this page, you see highlighted an area where I am allowing a device to have WiFi access only for the time frame of 8AM to 9PM. Outside of those times - the device will not be able to connect. I also have the ability to pick certain days so that I might create a different access schedule on the weekends for example or for when school is in session or we are on summer vacation. Go ahead and set the schedule that works for you.

You also see the Edit List button for applied PCs. Here is where you will indicate all the devices that this access schedule should be applied to using that MAC address we wrote down. Let's click on that.

4.  This brings us to the page for editing that list of PCs.

I can also use the IP Address of the device but there is a chance that the IP address could change so I prefer to use MAC addresses when I can because they do not change and are unique for every device. Go ahead and enter the MAC addresses you want in this list. Don't forget to save the settings.

Other Notes
  • Again, I would recommend changing your router password - otherwise your kids could read this post and undo the work you did setting it up. Or someone else could hack it and mess things up.
  • If you are not comfortable poking around on your equipment, I suggest getting some expert help with the process.
  • You might consider creating multiple schedules for all your devices for additional peace of mind.
  • Don't forget that there are some filtering options out there as well such as OpenDNS to protect your family from inappropriate websites.
I hope this was helpful. Please share your comments or questions - I would love to hear them.
Have an awesome day and stay safe online!

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