Norton Family Overview April 2023
Norton Family claims to have everything I look for in a parental control app, such as screen time limits, a powerful web filter, location tracking, and more. The monthly price looked good to me, and there is no limit on the number of devices I can monitor. This means I can use a single license to supervise all my kids’ phones, tablets, and computers.
I downloaded and installed the app, using the Norton Family’s 60-day money-back guarantee, to see whether their features are any good and to check whether my child can bypass the web filter, use the phone when it should be locked, or access apps that I blocked.
My conclusion: Norton Family lived up to its reputation and it’s one of the best parental control apps that I’ve tested. From the installation to creating rules for each child, the platform was very easy to use. Once I set a rule, it was instantly enforced on my child’s devices, and they couldn’t find a way to get around them. The web filter blocked inappropriate websites, and I was able to monitor their app use from anywhere. You don’t have to take my word for it, Norton Family has a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can test it on your family risk-free.
Don’t Have Time? Here’s a Short Norton Family Summary (1-Minute Read)
- Customizable web filter with 47 categories. If you’re not sure which categories to allow or block, use the default filters, which are based on your child’s age. Read more about the web filter here.
- Set screen time rules to stop your children from constantly looking at their screens. Create a custom schedule based on your routines, or just set a daily limit. Find out more about the screen time feature here.
- Complete app monitoring features include an updated list of all the apps on your child’s phone, how much each app is used, and the option to block an app from opening. See how to remotely manage apps here.
- Control how your child can use their phone during school hours with the Instant School Time feature. It’s perfect for getting rid of distractions while allowing access to educational resources. Learn about School Time here.
- Monitor search history on major search engines, and avoid surprises as to what is going on in your child’s life. See which search engines are compatible with Norton Family here.
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.
Here’s a quick summary of Norton Family’s features:
Norton Family Features – Updated in April 2023
|Best Price||$4.16 a month – No device limits|
|Free Trial||60 day money back guarantee|
|Web Filter||45+ categories|
|Screen Time Management||Yes|
|Location Tracking||Yes – Not available in all countries|
|Geofence||Yes – Not available in all countries|
|Call and SMS Monitoring||No|
|Customer Service||Live chat, phone support, FAQ|
|Platforms||PC, Android, iOS|
Norton Family promotes opening dialogue with the kids. This isn’t spyware, and I 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.
The app 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.
Web Filters that are Based on the Child’s Age
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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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
There are a few ways to set rules for screen time. Norton Family has a default schedule based on the child’s age, giving more time to older kids. The problem with this option is that it doesn’t lock the phone during school hours.
I prefer the option to manually set screen time rules based on each of my kids’ schedules. The process is very easy. I chose the overall daily screen time limit, and then went to the calendar and selected which times the phone should be blocked and when it’s available.
I like that Norton Family has multiple ways to set screen time rules. However, I wish that they were a bit more flexible. Both the daily screen time limits and screen time schedules are created in half hour blocks, whereas it would be better to make it in 5 minute increments or just let me decide exactly how much time I want my kids in front of the screen.
I looked at my son’s phone when I locked his device, and anytime he tried using it there was a lock screen that included a link for him to send requests for more time. I think this is a great feature, since I’m not always with him when the device is locked. I get the notification in my dashboard and can grant his request if I want.
Norton Family also has an Instant Lock feature that I could access from my dashboard. This feature blocks all apps, including outgoing phone calls. The only exception is that before enabling this feature, you must add at least one emergency contact that your child can call.
Overall, the screen time tools give me complete control over how and when my kids can have screen time. This is very important to me, because before using Norton Family, getting my kids to get off their phones was a daily battle. It was very easy to set up, and my kids couldn’t find a way to get around my rules.
Monitor Which Apps Your Kids are Using
Norton Family allows me to remotely monitor all app activity on my son’s phone. It displays a list of all the downloaded apps, with separate tabs for recently downloaded and recently deleted.
In addition to which apps are on the phone, I can see how much time each app is open. The dashboard can track the data for today, 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days. This gives me a good indication if an app is only being used for a few days, or if my child is on it all the time. Once I have that information, I can decide whether I want to block the app or not.
The one feature I’d like to see added to app monitoring is the ability to set screen time limits for individual apps. I don’t mind if my son watches YouTube or Netflix, but I know that it’s easy to lose track of time and watch hours of videos in a row without stopping. So, I can’t wait for Norton Family to update this feature to give me the option to set app time limits.
*Currently, App Monitoring is only available for Android.
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. Norton Family also tracks and generates a report for all the search terms on these websites. 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.
I tested the feature on my son’s Android phone. To begin the test, I searched for “Fortnite Kills” on my phone and then entered the same search term on my son’s phone. Then, I compared the results to see if the violent results were blocked. I was happy to see that the results were different on our devices. I ran a similar test on YouTube and was happy with the results.
Next, I asked my son to search for several terms on Google and Bing. I checked the dashboard and saw the complete list of search terms. I should point out that the search engine supervision feature only works on the Norton Family browser. Therefore, I had to block Chrome on my kids’ phones, so they had no choice but to use the compatible browser.
School Time Rules
There are some schools that allow kids to use their phones for educational purposes. Norton Family understands that and has a separate set of rules for school. I created a schedule based on the times that my son is in school and when he’s at home doing homework since he needs his phone, but I don’t want him to be distracted by other apps or watching videos.
School time has a stricter web filter that blocks everything except educational websites. The same is true for the apps. It allows those apps that are needed in school and blocks games and entertainment apps. Of course, the app list and filter are completely customizable based on your child’s needs and the school rules.
The filter has a default list of over 30 websites that are allowed, regardless of the filter categories. I also had the option to add URLs to a restricted list, if, for some reason, they weren’t filtered.
Because the School Time phone usage is for educational purposes, Norton Family doesn’t include the time spent against the overall daily screen time limits.
Video Supervision for YouTube and Hulu
The video supervision feature can monitor YouTube and Hulu. However, it only works on the browser. I blocked the apps through the dashboard, and my kids watched their videos and shows through the browser.
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.
The Dashboard Has Lots of Valuable Information for Parents
As a 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 at what the kids are doing and whether I should know about it or be concerned. At 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.
Track Live Location and Set Up Geofences
Keeping tabs on my kids has never been easier. The app connects to the phone’s GPS, so it provides a very accurate location. Each child avatar is added to a live map, so I can open my dashboard at any time and see exactly where the entire family is.
I find this helpful when we’re meeting at the big park in our neighborhood or if I’m picking my child up at the mall. Instead of circling around and trying to figure out where they are, I have an exact location with directions.
Norton Family also has a geofence feature. I created a radius and received live updates when they entered and left the area. It’s really helpful in the mornings when the kids go to school by themselves. I can get an update when they arrive at school, so I don’t have to worry that they skipped school or something happened to them on the way.
The live tracking and geofence features are not available everywhere. Android users can access the features in the following locations:
- New Zealand
iPhone and iPad users can use the live tracking and geofence in:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Hong Kong
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 Use9.7
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. 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.
The customer service rep patiently walked me through the process needed to give him remote access to my son’s phone. He saw exactly what my issue was and explained what caused the error and what to do to prevent it from happening again. After he adjusted the settings on my son’s phone, he showed me how to use the feature and wanted to make sure everything was clear.
Before he disconnected the chat, he asked me if I had any other questions or things he could help me with.
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?
Yes, you can get Norton Family free for 60 days with the purchase of an annual subscription. They have a money-back guarantee, which I tested, and it proved to work. I purchased the annual plan, tried it for 57 days, and then reached out to the support team and asked for a refund. I got my money back within a few days.
If you want to try Norton Family before committing to a plan, you can do the same. 60 days 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 web filter 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.
Norton Family has a single package that includes unlimited child profiles and devices, all for a very reasonable and affordable price per month. It’s really impressive that for such a low price, you get a web filter with over 45 categories, multiple screen time tools including School Time, live location tracking and geofence, and video and search supervision.
Norton Family recently changed their return policy to a 60-day money-back guarantee. This is a great opportunity to not only see how the app works on your family but also to get valuable insights into your child’s online activities. I tested this policy, asked to get my money back after 57 days of use, and had no trouble getting a complete refund within a few days.