- Easy installation
- Well-designed layouts
- Effective filtering
- House rules for kids
- Lack of macOS support
- No geofencing
- Removed Android SMS feature
There are few names more famous for internet security than Norton, so naturally we have high expectations for its parental control software. Owned by Symantec and based out of California, Norton reached fame with its antivirus software and has expanded its horizons to a whole host of other products including password managers, VPNs, and much more. Norton Family Premier allows you to set up ‘house rules’ for your children so they know exactly what they’re able to do (and not do) online. Should your child violate one of these rules then you’ll immediately receive a notification. Family Premier also has no limit on the number of devices, so you can set it up on every device in the house without worrying about having to pay any extra. Norton Family Premier comes with a 30-day free trial and a generous 60-day money-back guarantee. So, does Family Premier live up to the Norton brand?
The first thing you’ll notice about using Norton Family Premier is how easy the installation process is – it doesn’t immediately bombard you with options and configurations but instead lets you get started straight away. Child profiles come with preset age groups, with four options that offer age-appropriate restrictions and monitoring. Unlike some other services, Norton also doesn’t limit the number of devices you can track, so you can have as many as you want attached to each profile.
Family Premier has a vast number of filterable categories, from the usual topics like violence and pornography to some more obscure ones like politics and military – you also have the option to prevent access to any websites that are uncategorized. Blocked websites have an access request feature so kids can challenge a website they feel they should be able to visit. Although Norton Family Premier monitors both YouTube and Hulu, there is a drawback since this only works when YouTube and Hulu are opened in a browser, so it’s unlikely to have any impact on mobile users unless you also block the relevant apps.
Norton does well to stop loopholes, using proxy websites or a VPN to get around restrictions doesn’t work, and if a child tries to download a new browser on their phone to circumvent monitoring then an email will be sent to the parent telling them that a new browser has been installed. Uninstalling Family Shield completely is protected by needing the login details, and even after installation is complete another confirmatory notification will be sent out. There’s also the shutdown feature that will completely freeze a device until parents decide otherwise.
Scheduling is flexible, with parents given the choice of whether to have a schedule of permitted hour blocks or to instead restrict screen time to a set limit; you’re also able to lock the device once that time has expired. Special praise should be given to Norton’s web design as Family Premier’s dashboard is one of the best we’ve used. The activity summary page shows you all the information you need, and every menu is intuitive and easy-to-navigate so you’ll have no problem finding all the features available.
Norton Family Premier offers some limited monitoring of Facebook, but only if accessed on a browser and not over the Facebook apps, so there’s room for improvement there. No other social media sites are monitored but Family Premier does allow users to filter out social media websites completely and social media apps can be blocked on Androids but not iOS.
When setting up on mobile you’ll be given an option of the device being for parent or child. Parents get all the features that you’ll find on the desktop browser dashboard although it’s not nearly as aesthetically pleasing.
Like many other parental control solutions, the iOS version of Norton Family Premier is restricted. This is due to Apple’s recent app store rule changes that prevent Norton from using a lot of the features you’ll find on the Android version, but it still has the ability to track location and filter the internet. The Android app naturally has more features; you’ll be able to see every app installed on the device and from there you’re free to block whatever is necessary.
Both apps come with their own Norton browser, which is the only way to monitor search history, as it won’t recognize searches done on another browser. It’s also worth noting that while Family Premier does have location supervision it doesn’t have the option for geofencing. GPS tracking only works in the United States for the iOS app, while the Android version covers the U.S. as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the UK.
Norton Family Premier offers no macOS support, so users with Macs will only be able to use it as a dashboard for monitoring other devices – or simply look elsewhere. Hopefully Norton includes macOS support in a future edition to make Family Premier a more complete package.
Windows support goes from XP all the way to Windows 10, although Windows 10 S doesn’t offer browser support for Microsoft Edge. The Android app is great, with plenty of features but Norton was forced to remove SMS and call monitoring after disagreements with Google, and of course we already know about the problems with iOS.
There’s only one price plan for Norton Family Premier, a simple price of $49.99 for a year’s worth of family protection, so there are no monthly subscriptions or discounts for longer contracts. However, it’s worth noting that you can get Norton 360 Deluxe for just $59.99 for your first year, which includes Norton Family Premier was well as a whole host of other products including firewall, cloud storage, and antivirus software. Be careful though, as the price increases to $99.99 for the following years.
Family Premier comes with a 30-day free trial that lets you try out all the features on offer and, when you subscribe, you also get a fantastic 60-day money-back guarantee.
It’s no surprise that a company as successful as Norton has some of the best customer service around. Support is given over live chat 24/7 and over telephone and Norton also has the unique option of using remote desktop to guide you through the process.
As a big company, Norton’s social media presence is extensive, and support can be provided over Facebook and Twitter. The Norton website has plenty of well-written tutorials and FAQs, so you’ll have no problem getting to grips with all of Family Premier’s features.
Norton Family Premier is exactly the kind of parental control software you’d expect from a company of its size: a vast array of features, excellent customer support, and some of the most user-friendly apps on the market. However, some features don’t feel polished enough – YouTube and Hulu monitoring are great in theory but don’t function in any practical way, and the same can be said for its Facebook monitoring. The mobile apps have suffered from lost functions, but we won’t blame Norton for Apple and Google’s policy changes.
Ultimately, Family Premier’s inclusion of house rules make this feel like a much more of a parenting tool than a filtering tool that its rivals provide, making it a more inclusive process and ensuring it has a positive impact on your children’s screen time.
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