Net Nanny offers strong controls, including a feature that can disable chat and file-sharing programs. However, it’s harder to set up than other parental control programs, you can’t create user profiles from the main interface of the program (you need to go to the Control Panel), and we had a difficult time configuring restrictions in Net Nanny. Nevertheless, this program has a simple time-management feature and crucial Web site–filtering capabilities. Once Safe Search was enabled, we couldn’t turn it off, which is good. When we searched for “porn” or “breast” in Google, Safe Search returned no results. Searching for “breast cancer,” however, returned informative search results.
NetNanny is the only program we reviewed that lets children request permission to a certain site; if a child attempts to visit a site that is blocked, he or she can request an override. When the administrator (or parent) next logs in, she is alerted to the override request and can allow or reject the request. The program can also send e-mail notifications to parents when a site is blocked, overridden, or a request is submitted and can display reports on which sites their kids have visited or tried to visit, and even show the full text of instant messages.
The program works with the most popular IM clients, including AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, IRC, Jabber, MSN/Live, MySpace Chat, and Yahoo Messenger. Additional licenses for more than one computer must be purchased separately. Net Nanny works across multiple browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox; a child looking to circumvent the restrictions by downloading a new browser will be out of luck.
Verdict: Although it’s more difficult to configure than other parental control programs, Net Nanny offers a very good array of protective tools for children making their way onto the Net.