Internet

This Router Slows Connections to 56K to Annoy Teenagers Into Doing Their Chores

It's not the most efficient way of parenting, but it's certainly fun.

Jason Koebler

Jason Koebler

​ We generally try to avoid hyping nascent Kickstarters, but inconveniencing teenagers is something I think we can all get behind. A new router is specifically designed to allow parents to knock their kids' internet speeds down to dial-up—a snail's pace compared to what this generation is used to—in order to get them to do their homework.

​It's called the Vexbox, and, like many of mankind's best inventions, was born out of necessity. Sean O'Riordan, the Portland-based creator, says he was was sick of his kid's crap.

"It was inspired by my teenage son—if you're fighting with them and they don't have access to the internet, they'll be fine with it and just do something else, but slowing it down drives them absolutely insane," he said. "When I turn this on, he's up and moving right away and there's no fight, because I turned it on before we ever got a chance to get that far."

It's not the most technologically advanced thing I've ever seen, and certainly not the most efficient way of throttling internet connections. Basically, it's a  ​Rubik's cube-sized router that plugs into the router you already have, creating two separate networks. The Vexbox probably doesn't have the range of your standard commercial routers (O'Riordan estimates 100 meters through walls, 300 meters in an open space), but really, who cares when you're generally trying to inconvenience your children?

In an ideal setup, you'd take your kids off your password-protected network, change the password, and then set up the Vexbox. You'd remain connected to your regular router, your kids stay on the Vexbox router, and then you control how fast their internet goes depending on how charitable you're feeling. It's got full speed, 56K, custom, and completely off settings, which can be controlled from your smartphone or browser.

A Vexbox vs normal connection speed test.

O'Riordan says he knows that some routers come with throttling capabilities built in, but says he's not marketing to parents who understand how to mess with router settings. He also says many people just use whatever router their internet service provider gives them, many of which don't have throttling.

"I'm good with computers and it's a pain in the neck for me to do it on my own router," he said. "Imagine if you're a 37-year-old mom in Poughkeepsie, New York and your teen is driving you insane—do you think she wants to go into the router settings?"

We've seen hardware Kickstarters come and go and many of them underwhelm, but O'Riordan says he already has a working prototype and a manufacturing deal lined up with a firm in China, so it may be worth a shot for you if you really want to annoy your child. In fact, he says he no longer has trouble getting his 8-year-old daughter to clean her room. Knowing my younger sister, that seems like a miracle.