Research suggests one in five children from 10 to 18 years old has been cyberbullied. It’s also no secret that the internet is filled with dangerous content, including violent and gory videos, pornographic websites, and posts related to drugs. To combat these online dangers, companies have developed parental control software like Norton Family.
We tested and reviewed Norton Family extensively, looking at its sign-up and installation process, content filtering, voice and text monitoring, device compatibility, and extra features. View our findings in our extensive Norton Family parental control review below.
Note: Before you proceed, please be aware that Norton Family does not work on macOS. If your child uses a Mac, you should consider a dedicated Mac parental control software. Read our recommendations in this resource.
Norton Family: Short Review
|Easy sign-up||Doesn’t work on Mac|
|Sensitive content filtering||Lots of browser restrictions for web filtering and monitoring|
|Unlimited devices||Filtering on PC requires browser extensions that are easy to disable by your child|
|Advanced location tracking with geo-fencing||No text message or phone call monitoring|
|Useful School Time features||No social media or in-app monitoring|
|User-friendly interface||Can take a while for alerts to show up|
|Free 30-day trial (no credit card details needed!)||Easy to stop app from running in the background on Android (this means it stops working)|
Norton Family (also known as Norton Family Premier) offers an impressive number of parental controls for a reasonable price of $49.99 a year. You can set web filters and screen time limits, block mobile apps and adult content, and supervise what kind of videos your kids watch.
What sets Norton apart from many other parental control apps is the possibility of integrating antivirus software. The Norton 360 Deluxe bundle includes both the parental control program, as well as Norton’s antivirus software.
We also like Norton’s School Time feature, which allows parents to allow specific websites and block certain content during school hours.
Unfortunately, Norton Family doesn’t monitor iMessages or text messages. It also doesn’t monitor social media or what children do within apps. If these features are very important to you, we recommend checking out Bark. This is another parental control app and perhaps the best parental control app for iPhone.
Nevertheless, we think Norton Family is a decent all-around parental control app, certainly at this price. At the very least, it’s worth trying out, which you can do by clicking on the button below.
Norton Family’s Specifications
Norton Family has only one subscription tier, costing $49.99 a year. However, if you want full device protection, you can opt for the Norton 360 Deluxe bundle. This package costs $49.99 for the first year and then $104.99 a year. It includes Norton Family and Norton 360 antivirus software.
|Specification||Norton Family||Norton 360 Deluxe|
|Download link||Get Norton Family||Get Norton 360|
|Pricing||$49.99 a year||$49.99 for the first year|
|Number of devices||Unlimited||5|
|Screen time management||✔||✔|
Features and Effectiveness: How Well Does Norton Family Perform?
Norton Family has a decent set of parental controls and security features. Here’s a rundown of our findings:
- Norton’s content filters work as intended. The app blocked all of our inappropriate searches.
- The app’s monitoring functions were a bit slow at times.
- Blocking inappropriate searches and websites on PC requires specific browser extensions.
- We faced a serious issue with the app no longer working when we hit “close all” on our Android apps.
All in all, we give Norton a 6.5 out of 10 for features and effectiveness.
Content filters on mobile
Norton Family software offers different ways of content filtering. On mobile, your child has to use Norton’s Safe Search browser, which can be accessed from the Norton Family app. This is currently the only way to filter searches and web pages on mobile.
When using Norton Safe Search, all the filters you enable in your account will take effect. If your child tries to open a site that has been blocked, they’ll get the following message.
We did notice a delay in implementing restrictions, however. Changes made to the app’s content filters were not instantly implemented when we first used the app. This was not necessarily a huge issue for us. It just meant we had to set up the content filters ahead of time.
For subsequent content filter changes, however, the response time was a lot better. It’s possible that once the app is given time to process the first set of content filters, response times will improve. At least, this has been our experience.
Content filters on PC
On PC (Windows), you can only filter and monitor content using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. You’ll have to add Norton Family’s browser extension to the browsers your child uses.
Unfortunately, it’s very easy for your child to disable or remove these extensions. To make matters worse, you can’t block individual apps on PC with Norton Family. This means you can’t block browsers that don’t allow for content filtering or other desktop programs like Minecraft.
We tested the Norton Family browser extension on Chrome, and it worked very well. It filters content very effectively. However, the limitations outlined above do take away from Norton Family as a Windows parental control software.
Social media and app monitoring
Disappointingly, Norton Family doesn’t offer social media monitoring on either PC or mobile.
Additionally, you can only monitor how long your children use certain apps. You can’t monitor what they do within those apps.
Fortunately, you can at least block specific apps on Android and iOS devices. From your Norton Family account page, go to “APP” and click on the little gear icon at the top right of the screen. You can now see how much time your child spends using specific apps.
You can also go to “House Rules” to see all your child’s apps and block any programs.
Issues with app filtering
We discovered that closing all our phone applications also closes Norton Family. It doesn’t run in the background by default. This prevents Norton Family from blocking any applications that we had indicated as prohibited.
Android phones close background apps automatically to prolong your battery life. You can also accidentally close Norton Family when you close all your apps manually (by long-pressing on your Home button and choosing “Close all”).
The only way to really prevent this is by explaining to your child that they shouldn’t close all apps at once. It’s much better to teach them to only close apps one by one. This will prevent Norton Family from no longer working. This is, of course, a security issue regardless.
To close individual apps on Android, your child can just follow these steps:
- Swipe up from the bottom of your screen and hold your finger in place.
- Let go.
- Locate the app you want to close, tap it, and swipe up.
Norton Family offers advanced screentime management options. Per device, you can set a time limit for each day of the week. What’s more, you can actually choose specific times when your child is allowed to use their device.
For instance, for every single 30-minute period in a day, you can choose whether your child can use their phone. In the example below, the monitored child can only use their phone from 6 am to 10 pm.
Norton Family also offers a great geo-tracking feature. This option will display the most recent location of your child. This is based on their phone’s GPS location. As such, they need to have location tracking enabled on their phone.
This does mean that your child can quite easily disable this feature. After all, they can simply turn off GPS location sharing.
Norton Family also has so-called geo-fencing capabilities. This means you can set up places that your child frequents, such as their school and best friend’s home. You’ll receive alerts when your child leaves or arrives at one of these places.
This is a great way to stay in the know about your child’s general whereabouts without monitoring them all the time. Lastly, you can request to get updates on your child’s location at specific times.
Video monitoring and School Time
Norton Family has a feature that tracks videos that your child watches on YouTube and Hulu.
Unfortunately, this feature only works if your child uses the browser version of these services. In other words, the YouTube and Hulu apps themselves are not monitored.
Norton Family also offers a very useful School Time feature. This allows you to specify which websites and web categories your child can access during school hours. For instance, you can whitelist the Facebook Messenger website during school hours so your child can contact you in case of an emergency.
SafeCam is a Norton 360 feature, so it’s exclusive to Norton 360 Deluxe. It monitors software and users requesting access to your webcam.
SafeCam will show you exactly who’s trying to get access to your webcam and give you the option to either allow or refuse this access. This feature only works on Windows PCs.
SafeCam is a great feature to prevent your child’s webcam from getting hacked or abused by malware. If you get Norton Family as part of a Norton 360 Deluxe package, which we definitely recommend, you’ll have access to this feature, too.
Privacy Monitor is a Norton 360 Deluxe feature that can protect and check the state of your kids’ online privacy. Privacy Monitor scans popular websites for mentions or traces of your child’s data.
If it finds anything, it will allow you to opt out of the website’s data collection and data storage. This means the website will no longer have permission to collect, store, or use your child’s data.
Ease of Use: How User-Friendly is Norton Family?
When it comes to user-friendliness, Norton Family fares a little better, earning a score of 7 out of 10. Here are the highlights:
- Installing Norton Family is fairly straightforward. Its interface is easy-to-use and clearly structured.
- It can take a while before devices are properly synced with the parent’s account.
- Some of the steps involved in connecting devices might be a bit confusing for less tech-savvy users.
- We weren’t impressed by Norton Family’s customer service.
Norton Family website
The Norton Family website has a clean layout that clearly displays the option to download and install its software. However, we would have liked to see a clear overview of all of the features that Norton Family offers.
If you’ve already created your Norton Family parent account, you can quickly log in by clicking on “Sign in” in the top right corner.
While technically not part of the website, we also want to give Norton Family bonus points for its free trial. The 30-day free trial option is the first thing you’ll see on their website.
Contrary to lots of other services, Norton Family doesn’t require you to give up any payment info for the free trial. As far as we’re concerned, this is a huge plus. This way, you can try it out without any commitment.
Installing Norton Family
Installing Norton Family, fortunately, isn’t that challenging. The steps are straightforward and familiar.
The only snag we hit was when we needed to activate the necessary permissions for the app. When installing the app for this Norton Family review, we received a really strong privacy warning when enabling these permissions. This can make one think twice about granting permission. However, these permissions are necessary for the app to run.
Below, we’ll briefly walk you through the installation process of Norton Family.
- Go to the Norton Family website and either click on “Start subscription” or “Start 30-day trial.” We did the latter for this Norton Family review, as it’s a great way to try out Norton Family.
- Create an account by clicking on “create an account” and filling out your details.
- Confirm you want to continue once you’ve reviewed the next steps you need to complete to set up Norton Family.
- Add the first child you want to monitor. You can add others later. Simply fill out your child’s name and choose a restriction level.
- Select which device you want to add. You can install the app on the device you just used to create your account. You can also install Norton Family on a different device.
- Click on “Download” if you want to install Norton Family on your current device.
- Install the Norton Family app on any other devices you want to monitor. Norton Family is available on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
- Link other devices by filling out the code on your account page. This code should be displayed on the other devices’ screens. Alternatively, you can just log in from the new device using your account details. This will also link the devices.
Using Norton Family
Norton Family is easy to use. The software’s interface is clean and very clearly structured. We really like that every parental control feature displays information about what it does.
You can click on “View Details” to get more information for each feature or on the gear icon to change your “House Rules.”
For a very feature-rich app, Norton Family isn’t overwhelming. Everything is well-explained, and you are not bombarded with information.
Despite the clear layout, we can’t give Norton Family a straight A for user-friendliness, however. This is primarily because it can take a while for new devices to be set up properly.
After you’ve added a device (which in itself is not too difficult), it can take a while to actually respond to “house rule” changes. The workaround here is to set up the devices long before your child needs to use them.
Aside from this, your child needs to have the Norton Family app running in the background of their device for many of the features, such as app blocking, to work.
If they close the tabs on their phone, they can unknowingly disable many of the app’s features. This is a serious issue, of course, as far as effectiveness and user-friendliness go. After all, either you or your child will always have to take care they don’t close their background apps.
Furthermore, if your child actively wants to sabotage the app’s usefulness this way, it’s practically impossible for you to do anything about it.
We think Norton Family’s customer service could definitely do with some improvement.
When you go to the Norton support page and log in, you can find a button at the bottom that reads “View phone number.” When you click on it, however, you’re transferred to the same support page instead of a page that displays Norton’s phone number.
Moreover, when we tried to contact Norton’s 24/7 support chat the first time, it was impossible to talk to an agent. We were guided through a host of questions from a chatbot that had nothing to do with our problem. When it became clear that the bot couldn’t help us, the chat just ended.
The second time we tried to contact customer support, a very friendly help desk agent attended to us after about two minutes of chatbot questioning. However, he was unable to resolve our issue. He didn’t seem to understand us very well and kept requesting to get remote access to our devices.
After getting disconnected due to a technical error, we used our case number twice to try and contact the same support worker. Unfortunately, we were again left to contend with the chatbot. During our attempts, the chatbot simply ended the chat when we requested to speak to an agent.
Data Privacy: How Does Norton Family Use Your Data?
Norton is a large company with many different products. As such, we feared it might be complicated to find out how Norton Family treats your data. Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case at all.
Here are our findings:
- Norton is very transparent about what data they collect, how they use it, and who they share it with.
- They have different “mini privacy policies” for all their products, which you can easily find on their website.
We can only commend Norton for this. As such, we give Norton Family a solid 8.5 out of 10 for data privacy.
What data does Norton collect?
Norton collects the following data about its users, as per its global privacy statement:
- Account data, such as your name, address, email address, etc.
- Billing address and payment data
- Communication-related data, such as your phone number and the contents of your email conversations with Norton
- Norton website data, such as the pages and products you view
- Security data
- Location data
- Network traffic data
What data does Norton Family collect?
This is the data that Norton Family collects about your child:
- Your child’s name
- The restriction level you choose, and as a consequence, your child’s age range
- Your child’s picture or avatar
- The specific restriction settings you choose for your child
- Emergency contact information, such as your phone number
- Location labels used for geo-fencing such as “school” or “home”
- Your time zone
- Your child’s location
- The operating system on your child’s device
- Other device data such as the model, hardware, and default language
- Your child’s browser
- Security data such as URLs visited by your child, search terms, and device and application usage time
- Service data such as crash reports from PC or mobile devices
What does Norton do with your data?
Norton can use your data to advertise their products to you, however. Its advertisements can appear outside of its websites, as well. That said, Norton will not track your activity on external websites. They will only know from which website you came if you click on the ad.
What Does Norton Family Monitor?
Norton is a reasonably effective monitoring tool to keep an eye on your children’s web activity. However, if you compare them with some of the best parental control app, such as Bark, Norton definitely underperforms.
Norton Family doesn’t monitor texts, phone calls, notes, media on your child’s phone, specific apps, or email and chat services. Lastly, it can only monitor a limited number of browsers, especially on mobile.
Below, we’ll give you a brief overview of the more general data that Norton Family monitors:
|Monitoring function||iOS Devices||Android Devices||PC (Windows)|
|Websites visited and search queries||Only with the Norton Family Parental Control browser||Only with the Norton Family Parental Control browser||Only on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge|
|Time spent on device||✔||✔||✔|
|Time spent on specific apps||✔||✔||✖|
|Your child’s location||✔||✔||—|
Video streaming services
Below, you can find which video streaming platforms Norton Family can monitor and where.
|Norton Family Parental Control Browser (Android and iOS)||✔||✔|
|Official mobile app||✖||✖|
|Google Chrome (PC, Android)||✔||✔|
|Microsoft Internet Explorer (PC)||✔||✔|
|Microsoft Edge (PC)||✔||✔|
|Mozilla Firefox (PC)||✔||✔|
Here you’ll find which browsers Norton Family can monitor.
|Browser||iOS Devices||Android Devices||Windows||Mac|
|Norton’s Safe Search browser||✔||✔||✖||✖|
Keeping Your Kids Safe With Norton Family
Norton Family offers some great options to keep your children safe. These options include very accurate website and search monitoring, sensitive web filtering, location tracking, and advanced screen time management options for an unlimited number of devices.
Nevertheless, there are some issues with Norton Family’s software, as well. Examples of these include the fact that web monitoring on PC can easily be disabled by your child and that it doesn’t work on Mac. As such, it’s not a great Mac or Windows parental control software.
Moreover, Norton Family can easily be disabled on Android by simply stopping it from running in the background. We also think Norton Family misses some important parental control features. These include monitoring texts, email services, social media, and specific apps. This makes it far from being the best parental control app.
That said, Norton Family is reasonably user-friendly as a whole. It is also very transparent about the data it collects and what for. Therefore, we give Norton Family a solid 7 overall.
If you want to get started with Norton Family after reading this review, click the button below.
For more information on how to keep your kids safe online, check out the following resources:
- A Parent’s Guide to Stop and Prevent Cyberbullying
- How to Keep Social Media for Kids Fun and Safe
- Profanity Filters: Everything You Need to Know (Including Our Top 4 Picks!)
Also, feel free to check out our article on the best parental control software available right now. In this article, you’ll find options for parental control on iPhone, parental control on iPad, and for many other devices.
Do you have a specific question about Norton Family, how it works, and how well it performs as a parental control app? Then you should have a look at our FAQ down below. Don’t see your question? Just leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!
Norton Family is a decent parental control solution. It offers accurate content monitoring and very sensitive web filtering. It also gives you advanced screen time management options and other great features. Nevertheless, it has quite a few limitations and issues, which we address in our complete Norton Family review.
Norton Family is a parental control solution, whereas Norton 360 is one of Norton’s antivirus packages. As such, Norton 360 focuses on keeping your PC safe from malware and cyber threats rather than protecting your kids from harmful content that’s unsuitable for children. If you want to get both, you can opt for Norton 360 Deluxe, which offers these two programs in one bundle.
Unfortunately, Norton Family is not able to monitor text messages, iMessages, or social media. This is a big disadvantage, compared to some other parental control apps. After all, it means parents can’t really monitor their child’s communication. If you’re looking for a parental control app that does offer these features, we can recommend Bark.
Norton Family can monitor incognito mode, but only on desktop. On mobile, you can only monitor web traffic using the Norton Family built-in browser, which doesn’t offer an incognito option. To monitor your children’s incognito traffic on your PC, you will have to use the right browser extension and configure this extension to work in incognito.