When we talk about giving a child their own cell phone or setting them up to do virtual visitation, we also need to talk about protecting them. Not only could they encounter bad actors and adult content but kids need screen time and usage limitations. Norton Family is parental control software that allows a parent to set safety boundaries for a child.
ANY computer should be behind a firewall and be protected by virus scan. Beyond that, parental control software is a must. I’ve used a few pieces of parental control software in the past with mixed results. Recently, I landed upon Norton Online Family.
The things I like about Norton Family
- You install a client (software/app) to each device. That software connects to your Norton account. That means that your settings on your account apply to all devices you include. No individual settings per device!
- It’s SUPER simple to set up. The client is easy to install. If your device has user accounts, the software ‘figures out’ which profiles should have parental controls.
Access and Functionality
- I manage Norton Family online and from my cell phone. That means that if I’m not at home and remember to tweak a setting, I can do it from wherever I am. I can unlock his computer remotely or even see what he’s been up to from wherever I am.
- Norton Family has decent limit functionality, with one caveat (below). I can set the times he’s allowed to use the computer (between x time and y time on these days). Additionally, I can set how many hours per day of screen time he gets. And because these settings apply to all computers, his timer doesn’t start over just because he goes to another computer. Hah. No outsmarting THAT one, kiddo! (he may have tried it within the first week)
- The software has chat monitoring so if he adds a friend that I don’t know about, I get notified. Knowing who he’s talking to gave me more peace of mind.
- Kid friendly prompts are a bonus here. If he crosses a line by attempting to view something he’s not supposed to or log on at a time he’s not allowed to, he gets a message from the software that he understands.
The things I don’t like about Norton Family
- The time range limitation feature is limited to ‘weekday’ and ‘weekend’. However, my son does online visitation with his dad on Thursdays so I would like to be able to add an extra hour of allowed time to that one weekday rather than all weekdays.
- It has a feature that is supposed to monitor all outgoing form submissions, emails, IMs etc for his personal information like phone number, address, school name etc. However, I was able to successfully send that information out from his account without getting stopped or getting a notification to my email address that it had been done.
All in all, cons included, the software is a win for us. I’d recommend giving it a try. They offer a free trial period that should give you a good idea if it could be for you.