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Access control, or turning your kids off at night.

Posted by Andrew Shephard on 24th January 2013

If you have children and home network do you ever check the activity light on your wireless router after lights-out?  Here’s how you can restrict late night temptation. (Facebook updates and Disney re-runs on YouTube for mine).

They hadn’t invented the internet when I was a lad, our house had one solitary TV with 3 channels so I know it’s possible to exist without 24/7 access to everyone. My children however are the iPod generation, Facebook, FaceTime and 5-way messaging are second nature to them so actually getting them to switch off is damn-near impossible – unless you  d i s c o n n e c t  them – at which point they miraculously go to sleep if it’s dark or – even more surprising – stay asleep a while longer on dreary weekend mornings, or they’ll even read a book.

I know I could do this by hitting the router’s off-switch but that’s inelegant, and I’m lazy, forgetful and easily persuaded by blondes.  I had to discover the workings of network access control for myself, to automate things – and it’s easy.

For example Apple’s Airport Utility* has a thing called access control or timed access control which lets you define times of the day when certain devices are unable to connect to your network.  All you need to do is figure out the hardware address of the device you want to restrict (by checking the connection log e.g. 30:F7:C5:96:C6:22), program the days/times you want that device to be active, save the changes, restart your network and it’s done.

After a few days grumbling and moaning, it becomes the norm – your kids will voluntarily switch off the TV (after supper) to go and “catch-up on Wi-Fi time” before their connectivity curfew.  If you set a sunday lunch-break too they might even surface before food hits the table.  Just watch out for the bright-spark who realises he or she can sneak a non-restricted device upstairs to gain out of hours connection – remember the router activity light never lies.

*Other network devices are available – but why on earth would you bother?

Andrew Shephard

Andrew’s engineering background and ‘fluff-free’ attitude combined with probably the broadest knowledge of technology installed in one PR brain ensures critical insight for Wildfire’s clients. He has driven campaigns for major forces in the semiconductor industry over 18 years including NEC Electronics, Sun Microelectronics and TSMC along with game-changing start-ups like Achronix and Nujira.