- Cost: $39.99 for one computer license; 3-pack for $59.98
- Real-Time Content Analysis
- Resistant to Hacking, Tampering
- Removes Obscenities from View
- Flags Questionable Instant Messenger Conversations
- Remote Configuration
- Filters Inappropriate Games using ESRB-based technology
- Works on Mac OS X
Tried and True
Net Nanny is one of the oldest and most respected parental control and content monitoring software on the market. The Net Nanny application is very easy to use and includes many positive attributes, such as the program analyzes content in real-time. This simply means that web content is passed through the Net Nanny filter as it is displayed on the screen. Obscenities are blocked from pages that include valid content with exclamation points.
Net Nanny is configurable and customizable so families with children of varying ages may customize the software to enable different age-appropriate controls for each child. In addition, Net Nanny provides age-based profile templates as a starting point for parents. Parents may also create a profile, and then copy that profile to create additional profiles.
Net Nanny allows parents to configure the application from a remote computer. No need to directly access the computer on which the software runs. Net Nanny operates within any browser because the software works at the protocol level, and the application works within non-browser applications. Parents may define exceptions to any Net Nanny rule to allow access to blocked sites. Net Nanny effectively blocks multimedia content, such as YouTube videos, as well as web pages and written web content, drawings and artwork. Net Nanny also filters inappropriate games and controls access to social networks.
Net Nanny is hacker and tamper resistant. Where many parental control applications fail is that the designers of the programs underestimate the abilities of young, up-and-coming hackers. Many children view parental control software as a challenge to conquer. Hackers and children set on evading parental control software often utilize an anonymizing proxy. Net Nanny has blocked the ability of children to create an anonymizing proxy. Net Nanny also has the ability to block and filter HTTPS content. The newer versions of the product prevent the use of localhost proxy tools to thwart the effects of the software.
Content Analysis Engine
When Net Nanny is installed, the standard content filtering database is installed. However, the Net Nanny application supersedes the questionable content entered in the database. A content analysis engine provides this parental control software to analyze web data using algorithms to seek out inappropriate content.
The most notable drawback for users of Net Nanny is that the purchase of the software allows for installation to only one computer. Additional installations require additional costs for licensing. Some parents and reviewers also find that Net Nanny is very restrictive on the social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, these controls may be customized and somewhat relaxed through the configuration tools. Once social networking settings are customized to be more relaxed for older children, parents may continue to monitor social networking activities. One additional con that we found with the Net Nanny program is that a subscription must be maintained for continued use of the product.
Though Net Nanny is an effective and popular parental control content monitoring tool, the WebWatcher application is our first choice and is first place on our list. This is because WebWatcher offers parents a free trial of the software. In addition, we find WebWatcher to be the most effective and easy to use parental control software on the market.