New Child Safety Software from Norton

There are some very good technologies designed to help you keep your children safe from the various threats that lurk online. These range from specially designed web browsers like Kidzui and KidRocket, to filtering software like NetNanny and Safe Eyes.

But when a major player like Symantec steps into the fray, it’s worth taking notice. Symantec’s Norton brand has long been a leader in providing software to guard against viruses, phishing, and a host of other so-called malware. Now Norton has launched a great new service that should make life a lot easier for parents. It’s called OnlineFamily.Norton and it’s a simple way for parents to monitor their children’s online activities.

OnlineFamily.Norton reports in real time to a web account, which shows you what search terms your children are using, which websites they are visiting, and even which social networks they are on. This means if you work or travel, you will always have access to information from your family computers. You can get alerts via e-mail and take action to adjust settings from any web browser.

With OnlineFamily.Norton you can start to see your child’s online habits, rather than just following a trail of where they’ve been. This is great because it gets Mom and Dad out of an adversarial role when it comes to online safety and prevents parents from overreacting to some of the common keystroke mistakes that kids make.

But one of parts we like the most is that OnlineFamily.Norton is always visible to the child. A dog’s paw icon appears in the tool tray to show the product is functioning. When the computer is turned on, the child also gets a reminder that they will be protected and guided by the OnlineFamily.Norton’s rules. There is no stealth mode, which allows you to begin empowering your child as opposed to just protecting him.

The first step in getting started is to visit the Norton website. Here you’ll find a video that gives you more information about how the service works. Then, you can set up your family account and download the Norton Safety Minder to each computer you want to monitor. (Tip: Some customers are using the service on their elderly parents’ computers to help keep them safe too!)

The next step is to agree on the “house rules” that will be in effect for each child. These are selected from a menu list of options and can be customized based on the age of each child. The service will suggest categories of sites to block, and also suggest search rules for your child, as well as chatting rights and social networking activity. You can even set time restrictions for the use of each computer by each child. These suggested settings and other aspects of the service were designed with input from leading internet and child development experts.

OnlineFamily.Norton is available for PCs and Macs, although some of the features are currently restricted with the Mac version. And, during the introductory period – through January 1, 2010 – the service (a $60 value) is entirely free!

[Update: Symantec has notified The Online Mom that OnlineFamily.Norton will remain available as a free download for the foreseeable future. 02/08/10]

Comment by Erica, posted 8/24/2011, 7:10 PM:

That is really great, I am always worried what my kids could get into while on the internet! I was recently shopping for some protection for my computer & I even found some a site that had some great promo codes, <a href=""></ a>- yet I wasn't sure that this was the best program for my computer. The fact that it has this whole Online Family deal going makes me feel more comfortable w/ the company itself! Thanks
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