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 how well antivirus programs protect your computers. This means that the program has gone through months of continual testing to make sure every tool works as it claims, plus it blocks dangerous sites to ensure you don’t accidentally allow a virus to attack your computer. Norton has 47 filter categories plus a website blacklist, and during our 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, and you can get alerts via text.
- Licenses Included
Filters & Monitoring
We didn’t have any issues when testing the 47 filter categories of Norton Family, and any URLs we added to the website blacklist were blocked too. Because Norton has so many categories, we didn’t have to unblock as many sites for our children during home tests, because that many categories allows Norton to be very specific. 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. Other monitoring programs block both.
Norton Family also has filter presets based on your child’s age. When you set the age range, Norton 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, educational 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. Email can also be completely blocked from being used by your kids, or you can just 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 Family 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 programs. If you have this computer monitoring software installed on your child’s cellphone, you can see when they are texting and who they are texting with.
Reporting & Notifications
The parent reports are very detailed, so you know exactly what your child has been up to, who they are communicating with and how long they are staying on certain websites. You can receive text alerts if they attempt to access a blocked website, search for certain keywords or try to connect with someone you don’t want them to. You can access each user account from your Norton Family app or the online parent portal to add extra restrictions if you feel your kids aren’t safe, and even set time limits so they can’t access the internet at all regardless of the device they are on.
The biggest drawback is that Norton doesn’t capture the full messages sent and received by your kids in either email or chat. This feature is available through Surfie if you feel this is something your family needs.
Installation & Support
You get enough licenses with this software to install Norton Family on 10 difference devices, plus you can have multiple user accounts on each and manage everything from the parent online portal or the mobile app.
Norton walks you through each step of the installation and setup process, and the online support shows images and the directions are clear. Norton is one of the few computer monitoring companies that offer live support by both telephone and email. When we called Norton for help with any questions, the support staff was always very friendly and quick to get the information we needed.
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, by category or by adding the URL to the blacklist. You can install the program on 10 devices, including cellphones and tablets, and keep tabs on what your child is doing online and who they are chatting with to help make sure they are 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.