A Guide to Turning Off Internet Access at Night

13 min read by Bogdi

published un an în urmă, updated 5 luni în urmă

Even when everyone in your home is supposed to be turning in for the night, many people are unaware that their household is still connected to the wider world. This can keep kids (and adults) up long past their bedtime, or it can even expose your household to identity theft and other security threats while you sleep.

Internet access can be turned off at night by shutting off the wireless router. This can be done either manually or wirelessly. It's advised to turn off Internet access every night via a timer or other method to prevent unauthorized access at night from either household members or hackers.

Want to learn how to turn your Internet access off at night but you're not sure how to start? Keep reading below to learn exactly how you can shut off your Internet for better sleep and security.

How to Turn Off Internet Access at Night

Turning off your Internet access at night is usually a simple process that can be done in two major ways: manually and wirelessly. These methods have advantages and disadvantages depending on the reason why you're trying to turn off the Internet in the first place.

If you're doing it to avoid electric and magnetic field (EMF) radiation, turning off your wireless router remotely can help reduce your exposure to high levels of EMF radiation that you would have to subject yourself to every night if you turn off the router manually.

Here are a few easy ways to turn off Internet access at night:

  • Shut the router off manually. Manual shut-off on your wireless signal is the easiest way to turn off wireless Internet access at night, but this involves having to be present at the same location as your wireless router. This can be inconvenient if you want to make sure the Internet is shut off at night even when you're not in the home.
  • Toggle the wireless off on smart devices. If you want to turn off your Internet access at night, you don't necessarily have to shut the router down if you aren't worried about EMF exposure. Just go to your smartphone or tablet and toggle the wireless access from On to Off and you should no longer have wireless Internet access on that device.
  • Use a smart app to put the WiFi Internet access on a timer. This is one of the most advanced and convenient methods for turning off your Internet access at night. Along with teaching kids digital boundaries, it's also good for adults who struggle with finding the self-discipline to put their electronics away before bed.

Wireless shut-off of your wireless signal is a much more convenient method of shutting off your router since it can be done even when you're not in the same room as the router hardware. Wireless shut-off applications also allow you to shut off your wireless signal at the same time each evening to help you establish a routine for night-time Internet access.

Apps to Turn Off Internet Access at Night

Since excessive Internet use at night has become a progressively worse problem as the 21st century goes on, more software applications are tackling the Here are a few apps you can use to turn your Internet access off more easily at night:

  • WiFi Blocker
  • Boomerang
  • Active Time Alerts
  • ATTWiFi Manager
  • Verizon Smart Family
  • T-Mobile Family Mode
  • AT&T Smart Limits
  • Sprint Safe and Found
  • Circle Home
  • unGlue

The Health Risks of Leaving Internet Up at Night

Turning off Internet access is technically not difficult, but why would people bother to do it? Many of the concerns in 24/7 Internet exposure involve health problems associated with overuse of the Internet and over-exposure to EMF radiation.

Here are just a few of the negative symptoms associated with excessive Internet use, especially at night in bed:

  • Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders: Exposure to the blue light emitted by electronic devices right before sleep has been shown to disrupt sleep cycles and is also considered to be linked to more serious medical conditions such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Internet use is a major contributor to blue light exposure.
    (Source: Harvard University)
  • Increased stress: One bad habit that people fall into when they use the Internet at night is to scroll through large amounts of negative digital information continuously for hours at a time. This behavior is known as doomscrolling. (Source: Health.com) Doomscrolling is a major trigger for both anxiety and depression, and excess Internet use drives it.
  • EMF radiation exposure: While some people are more sensitive to EMF radiation than others, science is increasingly concerned with the long-term effects of constant EMF radiation exposure on the human body. Eliminating EMF radiation at night can reduce your lifetime EMF exposure by as much as a third.

Because of the health problems associated with spending half the night up on the Internet, many people have started taking deliberate steps to decrease their Internet exposure when it's time to get ready for bed. Turning off your Internet access each night can help train your brain that it's time to prepare for sleep and other evening activities and prevent feelings of withdrawal.

Internet Withdrawal and Internet Night Use

Most people spend well over eight hours a day being exposed to the Internet and associated media. Unsurprisingly, this kind of constant exposure can lead to symptoms of both addiction and withdrawal. Internet use exercises many of the same dopamine receptors that are involved with eating, doing recreational drugs, and other addictive behaviors. (Source: The Atlantic)

Because using the Internet can feel good, especially if it's done in the comfort of our own home and bed, it can excessively activate these dopamine centers in the brain associated with pleasure. This can lead to obsessive pleasure-seeking behavior in the form of excessive Internet use.

Since many people have jobs and other responsibilities during the day that prevent them from using the Internet too much, a lot of this excess Internet use occurs in the middle of the night when people should be sleeping instead. Not only does this lead to sleep deprivation and other health problems, excess Internet use at night can tank a person's mental health too.

Here are some of the most common symptoms you might temporarily experience if you are a heavy Internet user and start turning off access at night (Source: The Recovery Village):

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Craving for Internet access
  • Psychosis (rare cases only)

Security Risks of Leaving Internet Access Up at Night

There's no doubt that leaving your Internet up at night while you sleep on your wireless devices presents a cybersecurity risk for your household. Even if you have anti-virus software installed on your machines, there is little that these programs can do against a dedicated hacker who is up in the middle of the night with nothing to do but test your digital fences.

Turning off wireless access to home devices is the easiest way to prevent online criminals from attempting to access your wireless network. Hackers may be able to jimmy their way through an encrypted network, but not if they don't have wireless access to begin with.

Hackers can use your wireless signal to access your home devices, or they can piggyback off your signal to power their own devices. In either case, people are getting access to your home Internet that you don't want there. At best you might lose functionality and bandwidth, and at worst someone could spy directly into your home.

Here are a few other ways that hackers can potentially take advantage of lax cybersecurity at night (Source: Tweak Your Biz):

  • Rogue access point: A rogue access point is when a hacker is able to access your secured wireless network and install their own access point into the system. This allows them to access your wireless network and bypass security entirely.
  • Evil twin access points: Another trick that hackers use is to set up a rogue access point with an identical SSID (wireless network identifier) as the original wireless network. This is the "evil twin." When WiFi users accidentally toggle this wireless network thinking it is their original network, this gives the hacker access to their data and their device.

Cybersecurity and Kids with Internet Access at Night

The problem with kids using the Internet at night after their parents have gone to bed is that without supervision, they can end up exposed to things on the Internet that are well above an age-appropriate level. Here are a few of the things you need to consider when it comes to turning off the Internet for your kids at night:

  • Pornography use: While it isn't unusual for teenagers to get caught experimenting with online pornography, pornography accessed through a household Internet network can infect individual devices or even the network itself with viruses and malware. You also want to be sure to restrict pornography use for younger children in the home.  
  • Cyberbullying: When parents aren't monitoring their kids on the Internet at night, this can lead them to be vulnerable to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can come from strangers on the Internet or even their own peers on social media networks like WhatsApp. Restricting social media use at night can promote a more healthy perspective towards it.
  • Sexual predation: Since its inception, the Internet has encouraged some sexual predators to groom their victims online. Many of these people can be very persuasive and may convince an impressionable child or teenager into doing things like exposing themselves or sending explicit photographs.
  • Shock videos: There are many online viral videos online that are potentially scarring for children to witness, such as videos featuring violent death, torture, and murder. While many agencies keep a watch out for videos like this and try to remove them from the Internet where possible, it's impossible to keep violent videos off the Internet entirely.

There comes a time in every teenager's life where they'll have unfettered access to the Internet and everything that implies. But when they're young, it's responsible for parents to help monitor and curb excess or problematic Internet usage by restricting access, especially at night when their kids are supposed to be sleeping anyway.

Saving Money By Turning Off the Internet at Night

You might not consider the wireless router in your home a large drain on electricity, but you'd be surprised to learn the actual energy consumption of these household devices. The energy consumption of a wireless router is equivalent to thirty times the amount of electricity pulled by a cell phone charger.

The National Resources Defense Council has determined that wireless Internet routers account for enough energy consumption each year to power every home in Silicon Valley year-round. The NRDC also predicts that if Americans turned off their routers at night, they could collectively save over three hundred million dollars a year. That's no pocket change!

While turning off your router every night may only lead to shaving a few dollars off your Internet bill a year, it's still a way to keep money in your pocket that you would be throwing away otherwise. This is especially the case nowadays with so many wireless options for shutting down your Internet use remotely without having to disable the router hardware.

Kicking Children Off the Internet at Night

If your issue with turning off the Internet at night stems from your children overusing it, especially after you have gone to bed and can't be around to supervise their activities online, then you have several options to prevent this from happening. Here are just a few of the ways you can prevent your kids from using the wireless Internet at night while you're asleep (Source: PC Magazine):

  • Change the WiFi password. If you are still using the default WiFi password that came with your wireless router, then it's likely that everyone in your household (including the kids) knows what the password is. Changing the WiFi password to a password only you know can help you regulate who is using the Internet and when.
  • Use Media Access Control (MAC) filters. This method involves gaining access to your individual router's administrative settings and can help prevent individual devices from accessing the wireless router. The process for doing so is different from model to model, so consult your router's user manual for information specific to your hardware.
  • Enable parental controls. Many wireless routers now come with software applications that contain built-in parental controls. These controls automate the process of restricting access to your wireless router and can help give you better control over when your kids can use the Internet at night.
  • Enable mobile data settings. The problem with turning off the wireless signal in the house is that many cellphones can still access the Internet via a data plan without wireless access. To avoid this, you have to enable mobile data settings through your carrier to prevent Internet access after certain hours.
  • Take up the phones and tablets. This isn't one of the most high-tech ways of restricting Internet access at night, but it does the trick. Having one multi-outlet charging station in the home in your bedroom and making your kids turn in their devices before sleeping to charge up can help keep them from using them all night.

Maintaining digital monitoring on your childrens' devices during daytime Internet use is easy enough, but if you leave the Internet up at night after you've gone to bed there's no telling what your kids may get into online. The best option to avoid any trouble is to just turn off the Internet at night for everyone. This promotes health for adults and kids in the household alike.

Is It Okay to Turn Off Internet Access at Night?

If you have never maintained the habit of turning off your Internet access at night, the thought of it may be intimidating. But you don't have to worry about messing up your Internet signal or causing damage to your hardware. Most routers and wireless signals are designed specifically to be turned on and off whenever they're needed.

For both health and security purposes, it's recommended by cybersecurity experts and doctors that people limit their exposure to wireless signals as much as possible. So not only is it okay to turn off Internet access, it's a smart idea.

The only concern that might crop up with Internet access at night is if the Internet provides your only means of telecommunication in the household. In the case of a medical emergency, having to set the wireless back up to call for help can cost precious seconds.

However, the fact that most adults have a smart device that can summon help with or without a wireless signal means that this concern isn't a serious threat for most households.

How to Schedule WiFi to Turn Off at Night

If you want to turn off Internet access at night by scheduling the wireless signal to stop at a certain point in the evening and come back up again in the morning, there are multiple ways to pull it off. Here are a few methods for scheduling your WiFi to turn off at night:

  • Change the settings on the WiFi router. Many modern-day WiFi routers come with either software applications or user settings that allow you to attach a timer to your router's settings. The process for changing the schedule on your WiFi router varies from model to model depending on your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  • Attach the WiFi to a blocking app. If you don't want to mess with the administrative settings on your router directly, another method to use is to set up an app to track and restrict wireless Internet usage. This is usually set up through the smart device itself rather than the router, though ISPs may provide a router-specific app for customization.

By using either of these methods, you should be able to set up your Internet access to where it shuts off automatically at night and comes back on in the morning. If you get to the point where you need access to your Internet outside of the scheduled hours, you can go in and do a manual override on most devices in order to gain additional access.

Should You Turn Off WiFi When Not in Use?

Nobody can say for sure or not whether you should turn off WiFi when you're not using it. However, there are many advantages of doing so, such as the following:

  • Improved mental health
  • Improved sleep
  • Smaller electricity bills
  • Tighter cybersecurity
  • Decreased EMP radiation exposure

Turning off your wireless signal when not in use is a personal decision, but there are a lot of advantages associated with it and not many disadvantages. You might not like feeling disconnected from the Internet at first, but a few weeks of better sleep and reduced stress may change your tune.

As for the downsides to turning off Internet access at night, there aren't many. While you won't have the same access to media and information as you would if you left your wireless signal up, you technically shouldn't be using media excessively into the wee hours of the night anyway. Turning off the Internet every evening just removes the temptation to hop on and use it.

The average adult spends over six and a half hours on the Internet a day. (Source: Oberlo) In many cases, over half of those Internet hours are spent in the evening after other responsibilities and chores are completed. That means that there's a lot of people out there staying up on their phones in bed when they should be sleeping instead.

Can You Turn Off Internet Access to Specific Devices?

Sometimes you might want to turn off Internet access at night for some members of the household (children) but not for others (adults). In this case, you'll need a method that doesn't shut off wireless connectivity for the entire household, but instead restricts access from certain devices.

Here are the two main ways you can turn off Internet access to specific devices rather than turning off the wireless signal altogether:

  • Set MAC filters. This method was mentioned briefly earlier in the article, but it's one of the most failsafe ways of cutting specific devices off a wireless network. By installing MAC security protocols, the wireless system checks all incoming device signals against a list of approved devices. Without approval, the device cannot gain wireless access.
  • Use parental control software. Parental control software like Boomerang is operated from a smart device rather than being operated directly from the router itself. Many routers also incorporate parental control options into their broader control applications.

Even though it can be a little more technically difficult to filter specific devices from your wireless Internet, this can be one of the most effective ways to restrict Internet access at night if you're dealing with stubborn and tech-savvy teens who are able to circumvent more lax security measures.

Tips for Setting Boundaries About Evening Internet Access

If your interest in turning off Internet access at night is about household health rather than cybersecurity, there are a few ways that you can keep new night-time Internet rules from turning into a major household battle. Here are some tips on how to make Internet restriction as painless as possible:

  • Lead by example. It's common for parents to need to use the Internet longer into the evenings than children for practical reasons, but it will come off as hypocrisy to your kids if they see you up all night on the Internet when their access gets cut off early. Accept boundaries for your own Internet access too. It's healthy for all ages.
  • Explain the reasoning behind Internet restriction. It's important to let kids know that turning off the Internet at night is not meant to be a punishment for them and is not being done because they aren't trustworthy. Instead, parents should calmly explain the dangers involved with excess Internet use and unrestricted wireless networks.
  • Let your kids know what you can and can't monitor on the system. If you're using parental controls, let your kids know that you can see everything they do online. This will help guide them to make more appropriate choices on the Internet if they believe that someone is assessing their activity. Secret monitoring only erodes trust.

You're likely to hear some grumbling and groaning about new Internet restrictions at night if you put them in place, especially if you've been running a loose ship with regards to night-time Internet use in the past. But if you're fair and consistent with how you apply Internet boundaries, your family will thank you for it in the long run.

Turning Off Internet at Night is Good for You

Even though you might feel a pang of panic at the thought of turning off your Internet at 9 PM every night instead of scrolling through Pinterest until two in the morning, you'll be a lot better off prioritizing your rest and cybersecurity over your Instagram.

In a world that is increasingly connected all of the time, making the deliberate decision to turn it all off while you rest is empowering and therapeutic.

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