Reviewers agree that Net Nanny is very easy to use. In addition to its intuitive interface, Net Nanny is also rated one of the most effective parental control programs -- it analyzes and blocks content in real time and is just as secure from outside threats as it is from kids' tampering.
Subscription, limited bundle options can drive up prices. A darling of critics, Net Nanny (Est. $40) is one of the older parental control programs on the market, so some of its glowing reviews are dated. Still, Net Nanny consistently garners more praise than its competitors for its effectiveness, intuitive design and ease of use. The setup is relatively straightforward; the program (a web-based platform that is managed in a cloud) will start working automatically after a license is purchased. Net Nanny is designed to be as simple as possible for parents, yet sophisticated enough to prevent kids from hacking through its filters. You can customize the program and set up profiles for different users; Net Nanny will guide you through recommended filters and levels of protections based on users' ages.
While the program sells discounted packages for multiple computers (Est. $60 for 3 computers), there aren't any packages covering both PCs and Macs (just one or the other) or that include tablets. This can end up being costly for Mac/PC/tablet households. For example if you've got two PCs and a Mac, you'll need to pay for an individual license for the Mac (Est. $40). Covering your Android tablet will cost an additional $20 per year per device; there is also an iOS app (Est. $5) with limited functionality. A backup CD will also run you an extra $13. Net Nanny's prices are also for annual subscriptions -- so you'll need to pay again in a year to continue receiving protection.
Customizable remote parent management and alerts. Net Nanny provides effective filtering, blocks peer-to-peer networks and allows customizable remote management that enables parents to access the program via online management -- including receiving hourly, daily or weekly alerts via SMS or email for potentially troublesome websites, web searches, IM and social networking activities. Net Nanny uses dynamic content analysis to scrutinize every page, so if a site is brand new or has changed (such as news sites carrying violent images that day), it will be blocked and permitted again when the content has changed. Profanity will be masked if the page is child-friendly other than a few choice words.
Unlike some parental control software, Net Nanny also blocks content accessed via web proxies or secure HTTPS connections, making it very difficult for enterprising teens to bypass the filter. Video games can also be whitelisted or blacklisted based on their ratings by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. While that's a well-rounded list of qualities, critics say the program's particular strength is its intuitive interface, which is designed with non-tech-savvy parents in mind. In addition to outright blocking programs, the system can issue warnings that are easily accepted or overridden by parents.
Warning and blocking functions. Experts say the program holds up well, offering the ability to block or issue warnings for a wide variety of applications including chat, newsgroups, instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing and email. Critics are also impressed with how Net Nanny deals with online gaming and social networking sites. A separate product, Net Nanny Social (Est. $20 a year) offers more robust social media monitoring and covers more networks. Reports for parents are detailed and interactive -- in fact, some find Net Nanny's tracking too intrusive.
The program is occasionally too strict, blocking sites unnecessarily. Its password-protected override option makes unwarranted blocks easy to circumvent, however, and parents can customize which sites to ban or to allow their children to access. There's also a loophole in multiple installations, allowing children to circumvent time limits by switching computers. Over- and under-blocking is rare, although NextAdvisor.com says Net Nanny is a bit overzealous at blocking hate-based content. A Mac version of Net Nanny is available, though reviewers say it's not as good as the Mac version of Safe Eyes (Est. $50) , a program that works especially well when a household has both Macs and PCs and includes a license for up to three computers.
Net Nanny gets an Editors' Choice award here, beating out 13 other parental control programs for the honor. PCMag.com's other Editors' Choice software, Bsecure has been discontinued. Rubenking says Net Nanny "remains our top choice for traditional parental control with a strong focus on distinguishing between reasonable and inappropriate activities." He says that some of the tracking functions are intrusive and that it's possible to get around some of the time controls.
Review: Net Nanny 6.5 , Neil J. Rubenking, Feb. 22, 2010
Net Nanny receives a perfect score in this review based on feature set, installation and other sub-categories. Reviewers here say user interface and filtering are the best; if anything, the software over-blocks a little. Few details are offered regarding the testing process.
Review: Net Nanny Parental Controls 6.5, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, As of April 2013
3. Laptop Magazine
Laptop magazine (owned by TechMediaNetwork, the same parent company as TopTenReviews.com) tests and reviews Net Nanny separately, giving it 5 out of 5 stars. Laptop magazine is enthusiastic about the software, saying it "offers some of the best Internet filter software we have seen."
Review: Net Nanny Parental Controls 6.5 Review, Contributor to Laptop magazine, Feb. 28 , 2012
CNET's Download.com gives Net Nanny an excellent rating and 4 out of 5 stars, but the review is short and dated, and the editors don't test the program. The review praises the customizable aspects of the software, like the "blacklist" and "whitelist" functions that allow parents to ban or allow access to a site. Over 20 users posting on Download.com give it 3 out of 5 stars.
Review: Net Nanny, Editors of Download.com, Feb. 27, 2009
5. Computer Shopper
An earlier version of Net Nanny gets an Editors' Choice award here. David English is impressed by Net Nanny's ability to block proxy servers, though he finds its reporting of Facebook activity slightly flawed. Price is also cited as a concern.
Review: Net Nanny 6.0 Review and Ratings, David English, May 5, 2009
The editors of this commercial site (which offers discounts on parental control software) test Net Nanny and award the program 5 out of 5 stars, ranking it top in the parental control software category. NextAdvisor praises its smart block list, proxy-resistance and well-designed interface.
Review: Net Nanny Review: Parental Control Software, Editors of NextAdvisor.com, As of April 2013