Net Nanny is a comprehensive parental control filter that’s easy to use. It provides real-time web filtering, offers multiple user profiles, and works on PCs and mobile devices. It’s been on the market since 1996, which inspires confidence, but some updates like text alerts and social media monitoring are missing.
Net Nanny Specs
Windows Vista and later Mac OS X, 10.7 or higher
Android App Requirements
Android 2.3.3 and later
iPhone App Requirements
iOS 8 or higher
Max. Number of Devices
Internet filter Pornography blocker Time management Profanity masker Remote admin access Weekly activity reports
Net Nanny covers all the basics when it comes to making the internet safer for the entire family. We like that parents can set filters based on age, but we wish that social media monitoring were part of this otherwise thorough parental control software.
Blocks Websites in Real Time Some parental control filters rely on a list of flagged websites to filter online content. This leaves your family vulnerable to new sites that haven’t been blacklisted yet. Net Nanny doesn’t do that. This software scans and evaluates websites in real time. That means if your kid stumbles across a new site that contains inappropriate content, it will be blocked instantly—regardless of whether or not the site is on a blocked site list.
Lets You Schedule Online Time We really like the internet scheduling and time allowance features. These tools let you set weekly schedules for when kids can go online—you can block access every day during dinner or starting at bedtime until breakfast. Another option is to set up an internet time allowance. This is like an online time savings account. Your child can make withdrawals until the account is empty, and then they have to wait until the next day or week when their account fills up again.
Doesn’t Monitor Social Media Net Nanny doesn’t include a tool to help you monitor your kids’ social media activities. This is worrisome, especially because social media is where so many threats, like cyberbullying, take place. The company used to offer an add-on feature to keep an eye on social media accounts, but that option is no longer available. We hope there’s an update in the works that will add this crucial feature.
Can’t Track Location We wish this parental control program included GPS tracking. This addition would give parents nearly all the information they need to feel confident about a child’s safety in one convenient place. More parental control apps are adding this feature, and we think it would make Net Nanny even more effective.
Ease of Use
You don’t have to be a computer whiz to use Net Nanny. It’s easy to set up and manage. The program includes pre-set profiles based on age and user-friendly menus and reports. Plus, it’s simple to customize filtering and profiles to meet your family members’ specific needs.
Works Across Multiple Devices and Platforms Net Nanny works on PCs, Macs, smartphones, and tablets. It can also be used on both Android and iOS devices. And Net Nanny is simple to load on both computers and mobile devices. During the initial setup of your account, you can add in all the users you want to protect. And if you forget someone, it’s easy to add more users later.
Uses Age-Based Profiles It can feel overwhelming to set up different rules and restrictions for each member of your family. With Net Nanny, most of the work is already done for you. The software includes pre-set profiles based on age (child, pre-teen, teen, adult). These profiles automatically configure the most common settings for each age group. If you want to add more customization you can, but Net Nanny takes care of the basics for you.
Features Flexible Content Filtering Instead of blocking everything on a site, Net Nanny can scan and filter content pieces individually. That means your child can access articles on a news site for research, but if they try to click on a story about something you’ve deemed objectionable (such as violence or drugs), that piece of content will be blocked. This means you don’t have to go into admin settings to update your list of allowed and blocked sites every time something questionable pops up—the software does that work for you.
Requires Web Access for Most Admin Functions This means that you can’t use the mobile menu to make instant changes to your admin settings. Net Nanny has a limited menu on mobile devices. You have to go online and log in to your full account to get the complete menu. This is a minor inconvenience, but can be problematic if you want to manage the program on the go.
Doesn’t Have Much iOS Functionality Using Net Nanny on an iPhone or iPad is frustrating. Much of the filter’s functionality is blocked by Apple, and that makes it hard to impose consistent filtering on iOS devices. The good news is that loading Net Nanny onto an iOS device doesn’t count against your licenses. But if you’re an Apple family, this could be a dealbreaker.
Net Nanny Alerts and Reporting
Net Nanny makes it easy to find out what your children have been up to on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You get thorough reports that provide both broad overviews and precise details that include browsing history and every website visited. The big miss here is that Net Nanny only provides email alerts—if your kid tries to access a blocked website, you won’t get a text notification.
Notification Rules Can Be Customized This parental control software lets you set the types of notifications both you and your children receive. Depending on their level of access, your child may get a “Blocked” notification if they try to go somewhere they shouldn’t, or they could receive a warning that the site they’re entering might contain objectionable content. The difference is that one setting totally blocks the site, and the other lets your mature child make a judgement call. This gives you opportunities to have discussions about important topics if you see something questionable in their online activities.
Activity Reports Deliver a Lot of Details When you access Net Nanny’s activity reports, you get an easy-to-read set of charts. The first is a pie chart that is color-coded to each type of blocked content and proportioned to the number of hits in each category over the time period you’re checking. The second is a bar graph that shows how many times objectionable content was blocked, warned, or masked. To get more information, all you have to do is click on either chart and you’ll get a list of every visit to each site.
Alerts Only Come Via Email Email alerts are okay, but most of us are accustomed to the immediacy of text alerts. The fact that Net Nanny only offers email alerts is a sign that this parental control software pioneer may be in need of an update. Being able to see dangerous activity in real time is important, especially if you’re dealing with a child who exhibits high-risk behavior or has been struggling with online issues like cyberbullying.
Net Nanny Cost
Overall, Net Nanny is a reasonably priced parental control solution. We like that there are multiple tiers you can purchase based on the number of devices you want to protect—and you get a break when you purchase protection for multiple devices.
Straightforward Pricing There are no hidden fees with Net Nanny. Pricing is set, and all features advertised are included. Net Nanny even offered free upgrades for existing customers when it reduced the price of its 10-license pass.
Budget-Friendly Packages Starting at about $40 per year for one computer, we think Net Nanny can fit almost any budget. The most expensive plan, which covers fifteen devices, runs about $120 for a whole year. That breaks down to just $8 per device.
No Mobile Access in Single Device Package The only thing we wish Net Nanny would change is to include Android and iOS mobile access in its single device package. As it is, you have to upgrade to the Family Protection Pass if you want that extra safeguard, which can cost another $20.
The Bottom Line
Net Nanny is a straightforward, affordable parental control software package that’s easy to use for the entire family. We like its real-time web filtering and detailed reports, but the lack of social media monitoring and iOS functions could be deal breakers for some families.
Net Nanny first caught our attention when we were researching the best parental control filters on the market. We liked it so much that we decided to give it a closer look. We evaluated Net Nanny on four main criteria: features, ease of use, alerts, and cost. To reach our conclusions, we conducted thorough research, compared Net Nanny to other similar products, and found out how real customers like using it. Check out our methodology page to find out more about how we review and test products.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more