ContentWatch Net Nanny 7

Pros Supports Windows, Mac, Android. Web-based configuration and reporting. Powerful filtering. Cross-device Internet time allowance. Email notifications. App control for Android.

Cons Some minor features of previous edition omitted. No comparable iOS support. Bottom Line With configuration and reporting moved to the Web, ContentWatch Net Nanny 7 is fully at home in the modern multi-device world of parental control, and it still has the best content filtering around. Net Nanny 7 is a parental control Editors' Choice.

By Neil J. Rubenking

Modern parents wishing to keep an eye on their children's online activities need to deal with the proliferation of connected devices. These days a parental control tool that can't impose parental rules on all devices is outdated. ContentWatch Net Nanny 7 ($39.99 per year) will track and protect your kids across all your Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

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To be clear, $39.99 gets you a single license for Windows or Mac. The Android edition costs $12.99 per year as a standalone product. You can also get a perpetual license for a feature-limited iOS edition for $4.99; I won't be considering the iOS edition here because it's a completely different product that doesn't tie in with your main Net Nanny account.

The real winner is the Family Protection Pass. For $79.99 per year, you can install Net Nanny on up to 10 PC, Mac, or Android devices. Note that Windows XP is not supported; XP users can install the single-device Net Nanny 6.5.

The Family Protection Pass also gets you a year's subscription to Net Nanny Social, a $19.99 value if purchased separately. Net Nanny Social lets you monitor your children's social media activity on popular sites including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, Pinterest, Photobucket, Pandora, Orkut, and MySpace. Just give it each child's email address, and it will seek out accounts. You can also fill in the child's profile URL directly, if you know it.

Minor Features Missing
If you're familiar with earlier versions of Net Nanny, version 7 will be a bit of a shock. The visible Windows application is gone. All configuration and reporting now occurs online, enforced by a local client on each device. All you see locally is a system tray icon with a minimal menu.

Quite a few features of the previous Net Nanny have fallen by the wayside, in most cases because they weren't suited to the new cross-device mode. For one, Net Nanny no longer attempts to monitor or control Instant Messaging. To be fair, I haven't found any parental control system with a foolproof IM monitoring system, especially now that many IM systems encrypt their traffic.

The ability to control which games each child can play based on ESRB rating is also gone. Do note that this feature is part of the parental control system built into modern Windows versions. Net Nanny still enforces Safe Search on popular search sites, but it doesn't monitor search terms now.

All these features have one thing in common: They're not central to the task of parental control and monitoring. The important features are all still present and better than ever.

Getting Started
When you install the Windows client, you'll be prompted to log into your Net Nanny account, or create one. During the process of creating the account, you can name one or more users (children). You also have the option to add users later.


For each child, Net Nanny automatically configures settings to match the profile you select: Child, Pre-Teen, Teen, or Adult. Naturally, you can change these settings later. If multiple children will be using the same Windows account, you'll want to create a password for each account. You can also include the child's email address and a photo.

Where some parental control systems require that you associate each child with a Windows account, Net Nanny gives you choices. As noted, you can require each child to log in before going online. However, if the children do use separate accounts, you can set it so that after the first login under a given Windows account, the Net Nanny account stays logged in. It's very flexible.

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