Net Nanny Overview

Is Net Nanny really worth buying when you can find other parental control apps that cost less money?

With five kids ranging in age from 5 to 16, I had to find the best parental control app that was easy to manage and monitor. Using my kids as test subjects, I bought and used over 50 apps on their phones, tablets, and the family computer. Then I ranked them based on the features, strengths and weaknesses, and customer support.

What I found throughout my testing of Net Nanny is that it has the basic monitoring and screen management tools, but you can absolutely find cheaper and better options. I was very disappointed with the YouTube Monitoring feature. It didn’t track any of the video searches that my kids did through the YouTube app and while it claimed that a video was blocked, I was able to watch it. If you really want to set powerful parental control rules, and monitor their online activities, check out Qustodio, which has a smart web filter, comprehensive screen time features, and a detailed activity summary.

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Unlike other services, such as Qustodio, Net Nanny has apps for both parent and child accounts. The child can open the app and see how much screen time they’ve used and how much remains, which is an excellent way for them to learn how to budget their time. However, it also gives the child the opportunity to turn off the parental control restriction by selecting the Enable Unrestricted Mode option. The child will need to enter the account username and password in order to change this setting.

All of the parental controls can be accessed either via the mobile app or from a PC or Mac. When you first log in to your dashboard, you’ll get a quick overview of your kid’s app usage and a tabbed interface that allows the parent to check Searches, Screen Time, Blocks/Alerts, YouTube History, and Location. You can also pause their phones (which means that all apps, except for the phone, are blocked) or turn off the internet from the dashboard.

Net Nanny dashboard

The Parent Dashboard gives a complete overview of your child’s screen time usage

Basic Tools Needed to Monitor Your Kids

  • Family Feed: I found this to be a handy tool since it gave me an overview of what all my kids are doing, without having to go to each of their profiles individually.
  • Searches: This feature is supposed to show you what your kids are searching for online. However, I discovered a major flaw with it. I tested this on my son’s Android phone, and none of the searches done through the Google app showed up on my dashboard or Family Feed. I was only able to see searches done in Chrome or the pre-installed browser in the Searches tab, but none of the searches done through the Google app showed up. In comparison, when using Qustodio, all searches appeared in the activity summary.
  • Location: I never had to wonder where my kids are, the GPS tracking shows me on a map where they are. There is a geofence option, although to be perfectly honest, it can use improvement. It works based on location history. This is great if I want an alert that my kids either got to school or are leaving, but it doesn’t help if I want to set up alerts for places they haven’t been to yet. The one flaw I found with the location tracking is my son was able to turn off the GPS on his phone and change the Location permissions in the Net Nanny app. Therefore, it does require a level of trust between you and your kids for this to be effective. I didn’t have this problem with Qustodio, because it has a feature that locks the device settings, so my child was unable to turn off the GPS.
  • Screentime: I like that I can see how much screen time my kids have used each day. This feature would be even better if it gave a breakdown of how much time was spent on each app, like Qustodio does.

    Screenshot showing how to set a daily time limit with Net Nanny Screen Management settings
  • YouTube Monitoring: The way this feature is supposed to work is that any searches and views on the YouTube app will be recorded in the Dashboard, but it won’t block or restrict any videos. When using the YouTube Restricted Mode, which blocks videos based on meta titles and descriptions, is enforced. As I mentioned earlier, this wasn’t the experience I had. I didn’t see any of the searches or viewing history from the YouTube app and I was only able to see searches made from, without a viewing history. Qustodio has a much better YouTube monitoring tool. All searches are included in the activity alerts, and it includes links and thumbnails of all videos that your child watched.
  • Blocks & Alerts: This section is a bit different than the Family Feed because instead of getting an overview of the entire family, it’s separate for each child. At first, I was annoyed when I saw that it said several websites and YouTube videos were blocked when I knew for a fact they weren’t. I did a little digging and found the answer in the Net Nanny FAQ section. It seems that it blocked trackers and ads that were associated with the page.

Net Nanny FAQ

How to Set Filters and Limits with Net Nanny

Net Nanny allows you to set filters for specific apps, websites, and to create custom filters, plus setting limitations for daily screen time. To get started click on the Preferences icon in the Parent Dashboard to start personalizing the monitoring and limitations on your kid’s devices.Screenshot of Net Nanny parental control apps interface showing instructions on how to customize web filter

Open the Net Nanny preferences and set limitations
  • Daily Screen Time Allocation: I can choose, down to the minute, how much screen time my child can have.
  • Restricted Times: In addition to a daily limit, Net Nanny allows you to create a daily or weekly schedule for when the device can be used. The calendar works in time increments of 15 minutes. This allows me to restrict access during school hours, homework time, and after bedtime.

Net Nanny Screen Time schedule

You can set calendar restrictions of “No Internet” or “Pause Device”
  • Net Nanny Content Filters: There are 15 different categories that Net Nanny can filter: Porn, Mature Content, Adult Novelty, Anime, Nudity, Abortion, Strip Clubs, Provocative, Death Gore, Tobacco, Drugs, Weapons, Gambling, and Suicide. You can set each category as either “Allow,” “Alert,” or “Block. The web filter is not as comprehensive as Qustodio, which has over 30 categories, and uses AI and machine learning to understand context, which improves the accuracy of which sites are being blocked.

Net Nanny Web filter

  • Create Content Filter: In addition to the default web filters, you have the option to create your own keyword-based filters:

Net Nanny custom filter

  • Block or Allow Specific Websites: Net Nanny allows you to select specific URLs to either block or whitelist if you’re finding a site is being incorrectly flagged by the filters.

Net Nanny website settings

  • Block or Allow Specific Apps: Net Nanny compiled a list of over 80 popular apps, plus the apps currently installed on the phone or tablet, and you have the power to block them.

Net Nanny Manage apps

  • Mask Profanity on Websites: If this feature is activated, Net Nanny will place #### over common curse words.

Net Nanny mask profanity

All profanity is covered with ###
  • Force SafeSearch: This will use Google’s Safe Search feature to filter all out inappropriate results from searches.I was surprised to see that even though it says “Force SafeSearch” there were still steps I had to take to actually turn it on. Net Nanny can only apply Safe Search on the browser. It can’t filter searches done through the Google app. You can manually turn on Safe Search through the Google app.Click on the More on the bottom of the screen > Settings > General > Make sure SafeSearch is toggled on.

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Before you download the app from the App Store or Google Play, you should get a Net Nanny subscription and set up your account.

Installing the Parent App

To get started, you can acquire the Net Nanny Parent app via Google Play or the App Store. After installation, sign in using your account credentials, the ones you used during the account creation process. Once logged in, a welcome window will guide you with helpful tips and highlight the various features available on the dashboard.

Installing Net Nanny Child App

There are a few additional steps to take when installing the child app, because you will need to make some changes to the phone settings to allow Net Nanny to run in the background, access the location, filter apps, and enforce the time management feature.

Download the Net Nanny Child App from the App Store or Google Play and create an account for each child. The app will walk you through each of the changes it will need to make in the settings in order to properly work.Net Nanny for Android

You will have to give Net Nanny admin permission on your child’s device. This will allow it to monitor the phone or tablet accurately. Click Let’s Do It and then on the next screen click Activate. Depending on your device, you may receive warnings from the OS about granting the app Admin permissions. The permissions are needed to allow Net Nanny to work.Net Nanny Admin Rights

Once all the settings are adjusted and you’ve given Net Nanny permission to access the phone’s GPS, pictures, contacts and more, the installation will be complete and Net Nanny will instantly start monitoring the devices.

Ease of Use

Net Nanny is a straightforward program to manage. Upon successfully installing the Child App, I gain the capability to easily monitor the dashboard from my computer or mobile device. All the information you need is clearly laid out on the dashboard, including the Family Feed, Location, and Time Used/Remaining on the device.

To set up a daily or weekly schedule for when the phone can be used, click on the calendar icon on the dashboard.Screenshot of Net Nanny Parental Control apps interface showing instructions on how to create a screen time schedule

A calendar will open, and you can click on the Add Interval button at the bottom of the screen. This will allow you to choose whether the phone will be blocked entirely, or just the internet will be paused.Create a schedule with Net Nanny

When the time limit is reached, or if a child is attempting to use a blocked app, they will get a message saying, “Oh No. The Internet is Blocked.”Net Nanny blocks the internet

The kids can open the Child App on their phones and see how much time they have already used and what is remaining. Net Nanny manage screeb time

Information shown on the Net Nanny Kids app

There is also a button to Enable Unrestricted Mode, although I have no idea why, which can be turned on with the username and password. Therefore, for this app to work, you will need to use a password that your child doesn’t know or won’t guessNet Nanny unrestricted mode

Choose how long you want Unrestricted Mode to be active


Net Nanny has three ways of getting answers to any questions that you might have.

  1. Email
  2. Live Chat
  3. Extensive FAQ section

While each of these options has some limitations, for example, the Live Chat is only available Monday – Friday from 10 – 7 EST, you should be able to find answers to your questions fairly quickly. I waited until the customer support staff was working and spoke with them through chat. I was happy to see that they were using real people and not bots that just give pre-written answers.Net Nanny customer service


Is Net Nanny Safe?

There are no known viruses or malware attached to the Net Nanny line of apps or desktop. As long as you download it from an official website, it is safe to download to your computer or mobile device.
Can I limit specific apps for my kids with Net Nanny?

Yes and no. While Net Nanny has a basic app blocker, it doesn’t have the ability to set screen time limits on specific apps. This is one of the reasons I recommend Qustodio, as its app management tools are much better, and they give you complete control over how long and when your child can use any app. You can try Qustodio free for 30 days, and see how it works for yourself.
Is there a way for my kid to bypass the Net Nanny web filter?

The Net Nanny filter wasn’t too difficult for my kids to get around. The first problem is that there is the possibility of turning off protection through the Net Nanny app installed on the child’s device. Another easy hack is to use a VPN, which allows my kids access to any website they want.

I didn’t have these problems when using Qustodio because it comes with tools to prevent my kids from using a VPN. Not only is the filter more comprehensive, but it proved significantly more difficult for my kids to bypass. You can try Qustodio free for 30 days and experience the powerful filter yourself.

What Operating Systems support Net Nanny?
Net Nanny works with most major platforms:
  • Windows 10 – 64bit
  • macOS 10.13 and above
  • Android 5.1 and above
  • iOS 11 and above
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8 and 9 (8th Generation) running FireOS or
?Will Net Nanny combine usage times between multiple devices?
Yes. As long as each of the devices is associated with a child profile, Net Nanny will combine the time spent on all devices and lock when the time limit is reached.


There are three pricing options for Net Nanny.

  1. Only monitors PC and Mac
  2. Up to 5 devices
  3. Up to 20 devices

The first option is ideal if your child doesn’t have a mobile device, and you just want to monitor their time on a PC or Mac. The second and third options are nearly identical, the only difference being the number of devices you can monitor and the price. All three plans come with all the features listed above.

While the bottom line pricing is very similar to Qustodio, I found that Qustodio is a much better value. It has a better web filter and more comprehensive screen time features, plus several features that Net Nanny doesn’t offer. You can try Qustodio for free for 30 days, with unlimited access to all the premium features, and see how easy it is to use for yourself.

Try Qustodio Free for 30 Days!
Net Nanny offers the following plans
20 Devices
$7.50 per month
1 Desktop
$3.33 per month
Save 56%
5 Devices
$4.58 per month
Save 39%

Bottom Line

Net Nanny is a basic parental control app that is compatible with most major platforms, including Amazon Kindle tablets. However, during my testing, I found that it wasn’t as good as other similarly priced parental control apps.

Qustodio can do everything that Net Nanny can, only better, plus it has additional features such as time limits for apps, locking the device remotely, and social media monitoring, that Net Nanny doesn’t. If setting screen time limits, web filters, real-time location tracking, and monitoring online activities are important for you, try Qustodio free for 30 days, and experience its powerful features for yourself

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