Norton Family Overview September 2021
Norton is already a leader in the security and protection fields with its antivirus software, so I wanted to check if they could successfully add these features to their parental control app as well. I had to see for myself if its product is strong enough to protect my kids online and to prevent them from bypassing the restrictions as they did with many other parental control apps that I’ve tested.
I found a great deal on a hidden page on the Norton official website and was able to get Norton Family for a better price than what other blogs published online. Not only that, but I was also happy to see that it comes with a 30-day free trial, so I could test it on my five kids risk-free.
It didn’t take long for me to see that Norton Family has everything I need in a parental control app. I was able to customize the web filters and time restrictions for each of my kids, track their location in real-time, and see all the latest updates and alerts in a well-designed dashboard.
I’ve tested more than 30 parental control apps on my kids, who range in age from 5 – 16, and they can find hacks or ways around the time restrictions on most of them. I downloaded the Android app for their phones and tablet and gave them a week to see if they could beat it.
While they couldn’t get around web filters or time restrictions, they did find a way to watch YouTube videos without me seeing the search history or videos viewed. Norton Family only monitors YouTube through a browser and not through the app. Thankfully, there was an easy fix for this, I blocked the YouTube app on my kids’ devices, forcing them to watch through the browser.
Norton Family promotes opening a dialogue with the kids. This isn’t spyware, and wasn’t able to install the app using stealth mode or track every keystroke. It also includes a set of House Rules, so the kids know what is and what isn’t allowed.
One feature that I like is “Remote Learning.” This is extremely helpful since my kids are doing all their schooling from home, and therefore have to be online for most of the day. When the kids are using Remote Learning, the time limit clock stops, which is nice, because it means they won’t feel like they are losing out because they’re doing school work.
What I found after using Norton Family is that I was able to:
- Block inappropriate websites
- Filter search results from major search engines
- Receive alerts when my kids try and access restricted sites
- Set time limits for each device
- Instantly lock my kids’ devices
While there are some minor features missing that I’ve seen in other parental control programs, such as app based time restrictions, overall, I am very happy with Norton Family.
Norton Family is built to help parents monitor what their kids are doing online, prevent screen time addiction, and keep them safe. It has an impressive list of features that are geared towards achieving that goal.
Age Appropriate Web Filters
I was able to personalize the web restrictions for each child profile or use the preset restrictions, which are based on the child’s age.
- Very High: Recommended for ages 8 and younger
- High: Recommended for ages 8-11
- Moderate: Recommended for ages 12-14
- Low: Recommended for ages 15-17
Norton Family uses smart AI to categorize every website, based on the text, metadata, and images found on the website. There are a total of 47 categories, from news, sports, or entertainment, to porn, alcohol, or drugs, and everything in between. I was able to customize the filters for each of my kids, adjusting the limitations based on their age and personality. If you have specific websites that you allow your child to visit, you can add it to a whitelist, and it will bypass all filters.
On the other hand, if you want to prevent your child from going on a website, even though it’s clean, you can add it to the list of blocked websites. This is located on the dashboard under the section that displays all the different categories.
You can also choose how you want to monitor each device by setting the supervision levels as follows:
- Monitor: This turns off all restrictions on the child’s device, although the parent will still receive updates and alerts on what websites the child is going to.
- Warn: The kid will receive a warning that they are attempting to access a website that may be inappropriate. They have the option of ignoring the warning and proceeding to the website.
- Block: The website won’t open, and the child will receive a message that it’s been blocked.
You have to know your kids and decide your trust level when applying these settings. I chose to Monitor my 16-year-old and use the Warn settings for the 11 and 14-year-olds. For the younger kids, I turned on the Block option.
However, if you’re having trouble with your older kids going to porn or other sites they shouldn’t be seeing, you’ll be happier with the Block option for them.
Prevent Screen Time Addiction
For my family, finding a way to limit screen time is extremely important.
This is one of the features that I think Norton Family can improve in future versions. It allows me to set a daily usage schedule in blocks of 30 minutes and an overall daily limit in one-hour blocks. However, I would like to see a little more flexibility with these tools since our days are never broken up into perfect blocks of time.
I do like that there is an Instant Lock option that I can turn on from my dashboard. It will automatically lock all devices in my account. There is a 4-digit PIN code that bypasses the instant lock, which is useful if your kid has multiple devices, and while you want them off their phones and tablets, they can be using the computer.
One of the nice features that helps kids and parents communicate is the additional time request. If the time limit expires or your kid wants to use the device when the schedule has it turned off, they can request extra time. This request creates an alert on the dashboard, and as the parent, you can either accept or reject the request.
Monitor Which Apps Your Kids are Using
When you set up Norton Family on your child’s device, you have to give permission for the app to access App Usage data. This allows Norton Family to compile a list of apps on the phone, and as the parent, you can choose whether you want to block a specific app.
You can also monitor which apps your kids download and how much time they spend using each app. Norton Family can track usage based on today, a week, two weeks, or a month.
Monitors and Filters the Major Search Engines
I like that Norton Family automatically applies the safe search filter for Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and YouTube. It will also track and report all the search terms. This gives me excellent insight into what my kids are searching for and will warn me if they’re searching for things in forbidden categories.
Exceptions for Remote Learning
I really like that Norton Family has a School Time feature. While the kids are using their computers and phones for school or homework, it won’t count against their daily time limits. But, and here’s the great part, you can limit what sites they can go to based on categories and a whitelist of websites. This prevents them from getting distracted and helps them remain focused on schooling.
Location Tracking – Only in Select locations
When I started using Norton Family I was surprised that even though it advertised location tracking, I couldn’t find it on my dashboard. It took a little digging through the support pages until I saw that for Windows and Android users location tracking is only available in:
- New Zealand
iPhone and iPad users can use tracking location in:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Hong Kong
Video Supervision for YouTube and Hulu
The video supervision feature can monitor YouTube and Hulu. To get the most out of this feature you will need to block these apps and tell the kids to use the browser instead.
I do like that it shows a thumbnail screenshot of the video and a direct link, which allows me to check out the videos that were watched quickly. You can see the YouTube search terms that were used in the Search Supervision section of your dashboard.
Helpful Tools for Parents
As the parent of five kids, tracking them all can be a challenge. Thankfully, Norton Family makes it easy to stay on top of what they are doing online.
I was able to create individual child profiles for each of my kids, and each profile gets a separate dashboard. The dashboard is divided into different sections, making it easy to take a quick glance of what the kids are doing and whether I should know about it or be concerned. On the bottom of each section is a link that opens a page with additional information. Here you can see all the activities and adjust the House Rules for the specific category.
I opted in to get an email each time one of the kids does something that triggers an alert on the app. If you don’t want the emails, you can just turn them off and check the alerts through the dashboard.
Norton Family can also prepare and send a detailed monthly or weekly report to your email. This is helpful if you want to compare how they’re doing over a few months, such as if they are on their devices more or less. What apps they are still using, and seeing if you can pick up on any long-term trends in their search history or video watching.
Before you can download the Norton App, you should create your account. I found a great deal on a hidden page on the Norton website, which has significantly lower prices than their standard offer.
Once you create the account, you can add a child profile for each of your children. You will need to have the device you want to monitor with you, so you can download and install the app. Norton Family will give you a QR code, and a link to its Google Play or App Store, and you can use whichever is easier for you.
When you download the app on the child’s device, it will ask if this is the child’s or parent’s device. Select Child Device, and then you will have to give it permission to access the apps, contacts, photos, and display over other apps, all of which are pretty standard when downloading apps. You will also have to give it Device Admin rights, which prevents the child from deleting the app without permission.
You can also download and install the app on your phone or log in to the Norton Family portal online, to see the dashboard, set the rules, or make any changes to your kid’s accounts.
Ease of Use9.1
Norton Family is a very user-friendly program. It immediately starts syncing the child data with the parent dashboard as soon as you set up the account. The only thing you need to do is log in on your child’s device using the same username and password that you created the parent account.
You will manage everything through the Parent Dashboard. It had a well-designed layout, which gives you a quick overview of everything going on. When you click on the View Activity Details link it will give additional details about that category. On the top of the page are two tabs; House Rules and Activities.
Activities will give you all the information about the specific category. For example, which apps are being used, and for how long, how much time has the child been online, what websites they’re going to, videos they’re watching, search terms, etc.
You can customize the setting for each child, just select the child on the top of the dashboard to see their reports.
The House Rules section is where you can set the limitations. Choose the monitoring levels, screen time limits, which categories are allowed or restricted, and then these changes will automatically be applied to the child’s device. The House Rules will be updated, and the child can see them listed in their app, so there are no surprises as to what they can and can not do.
There are several ways to get support for any questions or issues you might have with Norton Family. If you want to try and solve your issues on your own, there are detailed help guides, FAQs, and tutorials. My only problem with these is that all of the Norton online security tools are grouped together and it can be difficult to find answers to questions about the parental control app.
If you don’t want to spend time browsing through the website’s support section, you can either open a ticket or chat with a customer support technician 24/7.
I was curious if there are real people answering chat questions, or just chat-bots. As I started my conversation with the agent, I thought it was a bot, as the answers seemed very formal and prewritten. However, as I continued to discuss the issues I was having it became clear I was talking with a live person.
I told the customer support agent that I was having trouble locking my child’s phone. He tried to walk me through the troubleshooting steps, and when that didn’t work, he asked for permission to access my computer and my child’s phone remotely so he could take a better look and find a solution to my question.
I was very impressed by this level of care, and it’s something I haven’t experienced with any of the other parental control apps that I’ve tested.
?Is Norton Family safe?
Norton is a well-known and respected online security company, so it should come as no surprise that there are no viruses or malware associated with the Family app. This is true as long as you download the app from the official website and not through a third-party website.
?Is there a free version of Norton Family?
While Norton Family used to have a limited version, sadly, this is no longer available. However, you can get a 30-day free trial without entering any payment information. This will give you enough time to test the app and see if it’s a good fit for your family.
?What are the screen time prevention tools on Norton Family?
There are two parts to the screen time tools on Norton Family. First, you can select what times during the day and night the devices can be used, and then you can set a time limit for each user.
?Can my kids bypass the Norton Family restrictions?
Kids are very smart, and can usually find ways around anything. That being said, I was impressed with the strength of the restrictions and time limits.
A few tips that can prevent your kids from bypassing any restrictions.
- If your child has an android phone with 6.0 OS or higher, they can add additional user profiles to the account. Then, they can simply log in to the other non-monitored accounts. You can prevent this by blocking the owner profile, and creating a user profile for the kids, and installing Norton Family on that account.
- Always make sure that the app is updated to the most recent version. In addition to security updates, the new releases will fix any weaknesses or bugs that kids can use to exploit the app.
There are not a lot of options when it comes to a subscription for Norton Family. There is a single package, that includes unlimited child profiles and devices, all for a very reasonable and affordable price per month.
I found a hidden page on the Norton website that has a lower price than what I saw advertised elsewhere. If you’re not ready to commit to a paid subscription, you can try it for free for 30 days without having to use a credit card.