How Effective Are Luma’s Parental Controls?

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Luma’s home Wi-Fi system is easy to set up and use, and it even comes with basic parental controls that allow you to block inappropriate content from your kids while they surf the web. But it has some…caveats.

Luma’s parental controls work by using Domain Name Service (DNS) filtering, which simply blocks certain web addresses that are known to contain inappropriate content. Luma says that websites are placed into categories and the categories are assigned to different ratings within the Luma app.

First, let’s talk about how to set it up, and then we can talk about its shortcomings.

How to Set Up Luma’s Parental Controls

Luma’s parental controls are pretty barebones, and come with just a basic filtering feature that allows you to set a dial on a scale rated from G to R (just like how movies are rated).

To access Luma’s parental controls, open up the app and tap on the “Filtering” tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

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By default, internet access is unrestricted, but by tapping and holding on the white circle toward the bottom and dragging it to a preferred level, your Luma network will begin to block certain websites and content.

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Here’s what each level allows and doesn’t allow, per Luma:

  • G: Only provides access to child-friendly content like Sprout, Disney, or Nick Jr.
  • PG: Provides access to Google, Wikipedia, and other educational or child-friendly content.
  • PG-13: Filters smoking, alcohol, drugs, and violence-themed content.
  • R: Filters cyber-threats, illegal activities, and X-rated content.

If you only want the kids in the house to be subjected to Luma’s parental controls, you can pick and choose which devices on the network will be restricted. Unfortunately, you can’t just tap on a device on the network and choose its content filtering level, but rather you have to add profiles of the people in your household and assign devices to those profiles. So if Johnny has a smartphone and a laptop, you can link those device to his Luma profile.

To add a person, start by tapping on the “People” tab at the bottom of the screen.

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Tap on “Add Person”.

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Type in their name. You can also add a photo and an email address, but they aren’t required. When finished, hit “Add” in the top-right corner.

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Hit “Ok” when the “Success!” pop-up appears.

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Next, tap on the “Assign” tab at the top of the screen.

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Find a device from the list at the bottom that belongs to the person you created a profile for and tap on “Assign”.

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The device will now show up under the “Assigned” section.

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Next, tap on the “People” tab at the top of the screen and select the profile that you want to add parental controls to.

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Tap on “Restrictions”.

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Select “Content Filter”.

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Choose a rating by sliding the white dot along the ratings scale. Hit “Save” in the top-right corner when finished.

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You can also set time limits to restrict how many hours that person has to surf the internet, as well as set time windows where internet access isn’t allowed by selecting “Time Limit” and “Bedtime”, respectively.

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How Effective Is the Content Filtering?

Since Luma uses DNS-based filtering, it’s not the best at blocking out inappropriate content when you want it to. In fact, it’s extremely easy to get around the restrictions.

It will block domain names that are associated with adult content, like PornHub.com and thousands of other blatant porn-centric websites, but sometimes it doesn’t get it right. For example, setting the content filtering to PG still allowed me to go to sites like Playboy.com and Maxim.com, as well as sites that weren’t necessarily adult themed but have NSFW content readily available, like Reddit and Imgur.

Furthermore, I could still do a Google Image search for “porn” and it would show me all kinds of stuff that would be completely inappropriate for someone restricted to a PG rating.

It’s certainly better than not having any parental controls at all, but it does a pretty terrible job for the most part. Hopefully Luma changes things up in the near future and actually makes its content filtering useful.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.