Net Nanny Review: Parental Control Software
|Sign up for Net Nanny|
|The best choice due to its smart block list, proxy-resistance, and good interface|
[Editor's note: Net Nanny is offering NextAdvisor users a 25% discount, no coupon required. Just follow any links from NextAdvisor to Net Nanny.]
Net Nanny is probably the best-known parental control software product we reviewed. At $29.95 (after discount) it's the cheapest, and with the release of version 6.5 it's also the best.
Net Nanny's interface is friendly and well-organized, and it's accessible from the program's control panel or remote login via a web-browser (so make sure you choose a really good password). You can choose from 31 categories to block, warn, or allow (Hate/Violence, Adult/Mature, Gambling, Intimate Apparel, Pornography, etc.). Unfortunately, it's not possible to remove words from Net Nanny's basic word list, but you can add them. The word and url list is automatically updated via Net Nanny's servers. You can't set maturity levels, which is unfortunate. While you can make exceptions to keywords, sites, or categories blocked, it'd be nice to have appropriateness levels for different age groups.
The filtering works pretty well, both from an adult and a teen user perspective. When testing this software we take both perspectives into account. As an adult you want harmful content screened out. As a teen or child you may want to see all kinds of things you "shouldn't" but at the very least you should be able to get around seeing the things you "should" see with minimal annoyances. Net Nanny did fine blocking most porn queries and sites. It showed very few false positives, correctly seeing "Enola Gay," "the Gay Science," "chicken breasts" and "sex linked differences" as clean. It did allow us to join an adult group on Yahoo! (we lied about our age), even though the actual adult group area was blocked by Net Nanny. Its hate filter was more problematic, completely blocking Google searches for "KKK," but allowing searches for "Nazi;" it seems to us that there are legitimate reasons for both searches. Hate is a difficult categorization for an algorithm, but we found blocking Wikipedia's entry on "Nazi" to be a little silly.
Net Nanny scored nearly perfect in our circumvention test. It was either able to identify and block proxy sites from loading, or block the illicit content we were using the proxy to try and view. We went beyond our standard set of proxy servers, and found it worked successfully each time. We did find that it occasionally would show Google caches of sites that Net Nanny blocked, but only if Net Nanny blocked the site based on the url. Net Nanny seemed to be good about analyzing the content of the cached page. Net Nanny will not filter content on 64-bit browsers, but administrators can restrict access to 64-bit applications.
Net Nanny did the best out of all of our test group at blocking images in web-based email. We tested it on Yahoo! mail, and it kept us from receiving images that had "adult" file names. But this is also one area where Net Nanny showed some false positives; we received erroneous pornography blocks for looking at a picture of an eagle, though we could eventually see it. A lingerie photo was visible as well when we gave it an innocuous title, though it unsuccessfully tried to block part of that email.
Of course all this activity is recorded in the log for later viewing. Net Nanny makes it very easy, with a fully searchable reporting mechanism that includes both searches and urls tried, both successfully and not.
While Net Nanny monitors a number of chats, it has no ability to monitor email. You can receive notifications of "warning" behavior when Net Nanny detects different behaviors such as use of profanity or acronyms such as MIRL (Meet In Real Life). You can set Net Nanny up to warn you, via email or text message, if your child exchanges certain types of information such as location and age, as well as sexual content. It's rather blind to files sent via Yahoo! Messenger though; they aren't even recorded in the logs. Net Nanny does have the ability to monitor profiles on some social networks: Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Bebo. MySpace is not included, though parents can ban unsupported social networks.
While we didn't make peer-to-peer content filtering part of our testing, we did test Net Nanny's ability to stop bittorrent file transfers. We were pleased to see that it was able to block our download attempts when we used the popular uTorrent program.
Before we tested the 6.5 version of Net Nanny, we were hard pressed to recommend any parent control software. The changes in 6.5, particularly to circumvention prevention, make it a no-brainer. While no parental control software will ever block 100% of the inappropriate content out there, Net Nanny does a pretty good job. Of course, with 6.5 just out in early February, it'll be interesting to see if new circumvention techniques will be developed in the future. But right now, it's a pretty good product that parents can feel comfortable with, and that kids probably won't hate too much. They'll give you 30 days to try it out free, so you can see if that's true.
System Requirements: Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista. Installs on 64-bit systems, but does not filter 64-bit browsers; Macintosh version available (but not reviewed)
NextAdvisor Blog Headlines
Which Cloud Storage Service Has the Best File Sync Technology?
There's no arguing that cloud storage is becoming more and more relevant as our reliance on technology and mobility increases. The highly accessible and useful service is revolutionizing the way we store and access our digital life. The ability to store all your electronic files in one safe, secure location and still have access to [...]
New Identity Theft Protection For AARP Members
If you're 50 years old or older, then you're in luck because you can now get a discount on identity theft protection. AARP Credit and Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID is an identity theft protection service that protects and only offers a discounted price to AARP members. As one of our top-rated identity theft protection services, you [...]
Find The Best Personalized Gifts For Children At Pear Tree
Looking for the perfect gift for that special child in your life? Well, you're in luck because Pear Tree Greetings offers gifts that can be personalized and are sure to bring a smile to any child's face. What personalized gifts does Pear Tree offer? Pear Tree Greetings offers three gift options for children ages zero [...]
Holiday Donations: What Can I Claim as a Tax Write Off?
The holiday season is upon us. It's time to put up cheerful decorations, eat way too much turkey and pumpkin pie and join the mad dash to finish the last of your shopping. But it's also a time of year when many of us take time to help those who are less fortunate, from volunteering [...]
Net Nanny Forum Posts
- Can I monitor what my child send or receives on his phone?
Great question! Unfortunately, parental control software doesn't have the ability to monitor personal messages yet. Most parental control software for...
- Can I monitor what my child send or receives on his phone?
Is there any program that will allow me to control, limit or monitor what my child sends or receives by cell phone on his kick account?
- Net Nanny Review
Here is the NextAdvisor review of Net Nanny: http://www.nextadvisor.com/parental_con ... review.php