Net Nanny 2.0 for Mac by Content Watch review

Parental controls to rstrict the kids' access to the Internet and your Mac
Photo of Net Nanny 2.0 for Mac by Content Watch
£23.99 annual subscription

Protecting children and young people on the internet is a serious business. And although it’s not quite an electronic Mary Poppins, Net Nanny 2.0 for Mac nevertheless has your kids’ best interests at heart. It’s designed to sit in the background, safeguarding them from offensive content as well as keeping an eye on how – and how often – they use the Internet.

Straightforward setup
Net Nanny 2.0 is highly configurable, and can provide protection ranging from stop-anything-that-moves right through to come-on-in-everybody – and all points in between. It’s possible, for example, to block lingerie web sites but allow gambling ones.

Configuration is straightforward thanks to the setup assistant, and concerned parents can define how they’re kept in touch with what the family computer is up to – daily email reports are the default, but it’s also possible to set yourself up as a Web Administrator which allows you to monitor and change Net Nanny’s settings from any machine connected to the Internet.

Monitors chat
Like the real thing, Net Nanny’s firm but polite. Try to access a site that’s forbidden (or search for something you shouldn’t, like lingerie – see above), and she’ll appear full-screen, explaining what’s happened and inviting you to ask your parent or administrator to unlock the site on your behalf. Net Nanny can be set to monitor online chats and has a long, and editable list of ‘red flag’ phrases which it watches out for – things like “are you alone?” and “do you like wine?” You can also easily use the program to set specific times when the kids are – and aren’t – allowed to use the PC.

Well organised
Net Nanny takes a while to settle down. Set to block movie websites, it’ll routinely prevent general news sites from opening and it’ll also block online help, secure web sites like banks that use the https protocol and more; all these issues can be solved using the various filters in the control panel, which is easy to access and well organised. You’ll need to allow time for this tweaking, but the features on offer here go way beyond anything included in Apple’s OS X. If you’re serious about your kids’ security on the Mac, then an annual Net Nanny subscription is recommended. As is talking to your kids in a frank, relaxed way about the dos and don’ts of Internet use.

Company: Content Watch

Website: http://www.netnanny.co.uk/

Contact: Content Watch on 0844 556 3630

Positives
  • Comprehensive feature set and ease of use.
Negative
  • Not the product's fault - but it may convince busy parents that the job is done.

Verdict

Although instinctively repelled by Net Nanny's watchfulness as adults, we're big fans of its thorough approach to online security for kids, its remote reporting and administration features and the well organised, well thought-out design. Rarely has such a velvet glove held such an iron fist.