Editor’s Note: Norton Family has a new version. Clicking on the buy link will take you to this product. We will evaluate and test this new version the next time we update our internet filters comparison.
Possibly one of the most recognizable names in internet safety and security, Norton by Symantec enjoys a stellar reputation for keeping computers safe from viruses. Its internet safety program, Norton Family, performs capably alongside some of the best internet filter software programs in our top 10 list. Although it lacks some advanced filtering features that other programs have, it can be used to great effect as a pornography filter and website blocker and for keeping tabs on your child's social media activity.
Operating from a browser-based platform, Norton Family gives you the convenience of being able to check on your child's activity from any computer. When you log in to the administrator console with your user ID and password, you can review all activity or make changes. Installation of the software itself has to be performed on the device your child uses, and although Norton Family lacks a configuration wizard to walk you through the steps of establishing permissions and restrictions for different family members, the process itself is relatively straightforward because of a user-friendly design.
In addition to allowing certain sites, blocking others and establishing age-appropriate filters, Norton Family comes with features you can use to limit your child's exposure to questionable online content. Some of the other filtering and blocking features include the ability to monitor your child's social network activity. If your child uses an Android smartphone, you can also install Norton Family on that device to monitor text conversations. Unfortunately, this feature is unavailable for iOS mobile devices. If you need to monitor iPhones, we suggest looking into Qustodio.
Time supervision is another included feature that can help you enforce a strict schedule of internet usage. To ensure your child is adhering to your established rules, you are given access to detailed reports that are accessed via the browser-based admin dashboard. You can also set the program to email you reports on a monthly or weekly basis if your child requires less micro managing.
Norton Family has strengths that are counteracted by its shortcomings. While it has a method for tracking social network activity, it doesn't support the monitoring of online chat conversations and cannot take screenshots of activity. It also doesn't come with a way to control online game usage and is unable to block profanity that may be present on sites that don't fall into restricted categories. It supports Windows, Android smartphones and has limited capacity on iOS devices, but does not run on Mac computers.
Norton Family is a program that you would expect to be more powerful than it is, if for no other reason than it was manufactured by a well-known and highly reputable software services company. Its limitations in the areas of activity recording, reporting and ease of use leave much to be desired, especially when compared to other more capable internet filter software programs.