What is it?
A router is a device that forwards data (information) to a computer connected to the internet, or to a local area network, such as a group of computers in a home or at work. It usually connects to the modem which in turn connects to the internet. Sometimes the modem is built into the router and then it may also be called a gateway.
Some people choose to connect directly to a router via an Ethernet cable, while others connect wirelessly via WiFi (if the router includes WiFi, which many do).
How does it work?
When data packets are transmitted over a network, such as the internet, they move through many routers on their way from the originating computer to the destination computer.
Why is it useful?
A router means that each computer doesn't need to have its own direct connection to the source of the data, whether this is a local server or the internet.
What do you need to keep in mind about your child and routers?
The router (gateway) in your home is the most common way that people connect to the internet in their home. Because this device essentially connects to the whole world, security is essential. The first level of security is the username/password combination required to access the router. Never leave it set at the factory default or someone will use this to gain access to your system. Always choose your own username and password and keep a note of them in a safe place.
The second level of defence is to maintain reliable anti-virus software on your computers. Look for a package that includes "internet security".
Unless children have the necessary skills and permission they should not touch the settings on the router and the internet security software.