Net Nanny has been around since the mid-90s, so it’s one of the oldest parental software companies on the market – but that hasn’t stopped the firm adding loads of forward-thinking features to its latest release.
This app is one of the better options around when it comes to monitoring your kids’ behaviour on social media – and that, of course, is one of the main things that children are using their devices for these days. This is why it ranks high on our list of the best internet filter software (opens in new tab). It tackles the threat of inappropriate content on social media by using the same AI-powered filtering that the app uses for handling websites, which means that it dynamically analyses what your children are posting and what’s appearing on their feed to filter out inappropriate content.
Net Nanny: Monitoring features
Net Nanny’s AI-powered filtering works on social media apps including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, so there’s great scope for monitoring the main apps that your kids are using.
The filtering doesn’t just work on social media services. Net Nanny’s filtering blocks content on the biggest web browsers and uses fifteen different categories, including big topics like pornography, drugs, gambling and violence. Parents can allow content to be viewed while a log is kept – or choose to be alerted to flagged content or block the content entirely. Net Nanny analyses content in real-time, so it’ll block inappropriate sites in your chosen categories while still potentially allowing kids to access purely factual pages like Wikipedia, and the app’s fifteen pre-configured categories can be bolstered by individual website and keyword blocking and the ability to set up your own custom filters. There’s a dedicated profanity filter, and it saves, monitors and blocks searches from Google, Yahoo and Bing in real time – and can monitor chats for inappropriate conversations. You can even see what your kids are searching for on YouTube and use a link to each video to check its content.
Net Nanny’s filtering is excellent, but it’s not perfect. The process for setting up custom filters is complicated, which may prohibit tech-averse parents from getting full control, and more pre-configured filters would have been welcome – some apps, like Qustodio (opens in new tab), have almost twice as many. If Net Nanny encounters a social media app it doesn’t natively monitor, it routes children to the app’s mobile site, which is an awkward workaround.
Net Nanny: : Ease of use for parents
Net Nanny takes inspiration from social media for one of its biggest features. It’s called the Family Feed, and it can be seen in Net Nanny’s parent apps and parent dashboard. It presents an ongoing, social-style feed of your children’s activities including their screen time, social activity, searches and app installations, so you can instantly keep tabs on what everyone is up to.
Indeed, Net Nanny’s dashboard is generally slick and easy to use no matter the platform you use, with settings and options organised sensibly, and it has a large map that shows your children’s real-world locations. Clicking on their names allows you to access basic options and heading into the menus allows more control.
As with most parental control apps, Net Nanny has extensive screen time options. You can set different screen-time schedules for different children on different days, pause access or monitoring, lock children out and establish overall usage caps. Screen time allowances are monitored across multiple devices, so the kids can’t just switch to different hardware, and Net Nanny includes a useful app that allows kids to monitor how much of their screen time they’ve already used – so they can be part of the conversation when it comes to budgeting their device access.
Net Nanny pairs its social-inspired functionality with a solid slate of core features. You can block problematic apps and websites, prevent kids from uninstalling the Net Nanny app and accessing its settings, and view detailed reports about the kids’ online activity. Platform support is good: Net Nanny works on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Amazon Fire OS devices, including Kindles, which is on par with the best parental control software. Sadly, there is no Chromebook support.
This app has geographic features, too, but this is an area where Net Nanny is a little weaker than some rivals. Happily, you can see where your children are located and where they’ve been. Net Nanny also supports a feature called Geofencing, which allows parents to set up geographic safe zones and be alerted when children venture outside of those – like if they leave school or home during inappropriate times. While that’s great on paper, the feature is a little too basic for our liking: these safe zones only work if your child has already visited, and parents can’t define the size of the safe area or set their own custom borders. These are features that other apps routinely offer.
Net Nanny: App features and prices
There are some limitations elsewhere, too. Net Nanny may do a great job with social media, but it doesn’t monitor calls or conventional text messages. And if you want to block apps on iOS, you’ll have to choose from a pre-configured list of apps – whereas on Android devices you can block any app you’d like. Net Nanny also doesn’t offer a panic button feature.
Net Nanny doesn’t offer a free trial or a free version, either, and its pricing structure offers varying levels of value. Its entry-level package costs $39, but that only protects one Windows or macOS device – which isn’t a particularly good deal. The $54 option is far better and can be used to protect up to five devices, and the $89 deal protects up to twenty devices. That’s cheaper than high-end packages like Qustodio, although it’s certainly easy to find even more affordable parental control utilities elsewhere.
Should you buy Net Nanny?
As with any parental control app, then, there are caveats – but, as with any app, they may not be a problem depending on how your family uses its technology. Happily, Net Nanny is a little more affordable than some rivals, and it’s one of the best options anywhere if your children are social media fiends thanks to its broad social media features and dynamic filtering.