Pros / Norton Family blocks dangerous websites on both computers and mobile devices.
Cons / It doesn’t record email or chat messages.
Verdict / Norton has 47 filter categories and has passed rigorous tests conducted by a third-party security lab.
Norton Family is the only monitoring software we reviewed that is tested by the third-party lab AV-Test, a non-profit company that also evaluates a variety of internet protection programs, including parental software and antivirus solutions. Norton Family has gone through months of continual testing at AV-Test to make sure every tool works as it claims, and we did our own in-house tests, too. Norton has 47 filter categories plus a website blocklist, and during our own tests we saw that both were very good at blocking websites. The reports we received about online activity were easy to read and quite detailed.
Because Norton has so many categories, we didn’t have to unblock as many sites for our children during home tests. This is because the categories are more specific than you’ll find with most monitoring programs. For example, when we wanted to block online games, Norton blocked popular gaming sites such as Steam and Pogo, but still allowed educational game sites like Starfall and Funbrain. Most other monitoring programs block both.
Norton Family also has filter presets based on your child’s age. When you set the age range, the software uses website ratings to determine which are OK for your child to access. This is helpful if you have children of different ages and their own user profile on the family computer, so younger kids can access fun, education sites while older kids can access news programs and educational journals for school research projects.
A great monitoring feature of Norton Family is that it completely blocks chat and messaging programs. This includes both standalone applications, such as Skype, and those embedded in websites, like Messenger on Facebook, or the chat rooms in online gaming sites. You can also completely block email usage, or you can restrict file sharing so your kids can’t send or receive harmful images or videos.
While your child is online, Norton Family records what they are doing, both restricted and unrestricted activities. It captures every search term your child looks for, websites they visit, how long they are there and how often they visit. It records images they view and videos they watch, too, as well as time spent on social media pages.
Norton doesn’t record the actual email and chat messages your child sends and receives, but you will see when they have accessed their email accounts or chat program. If you have this computer monitoring software installed on your child’s cell phone, you can see when they are texting and who they are texting with. If you would like more details from the conversations your child is having through chat or email, consider Surfie. Surfie records both sides of every conversation and shows you email threads and any attachments that are sent or received.
You get enough licenses with this software to install Norton Family on 10 different devices, plus you can have multiple user accounts on each and manage everything from the parent online portal or the mobile app. If you want a multifaceted tool that offers even more features, check out Norton Security Premier that comes with powerful virus protection, a personal firewall and Norton Family.
Norton Family is a good monitoring program that is excellent at blocking dangerous websites. You can set webpage filters based on your child’s age or by adding specific URLs to the blacklist. Or you can block sites by category – 47 of them, which is quite helpful. You can install the program on 10 devices, including cell phones and tablets, and keep tabs on what your child is doing online and who they are chatting with to help them stay safe. While you get detailed reports of where your child is spending their time online, you can’t see email or chat messages they send or receive.