Saturday , 2 August 2014

Norton Safety Minder: Mind your child’s online safety

Children that spend time unsupervised in front of the computer are inevitably exposed to age inappropriate Internet content one way or the other. That is something parents are trying to avoid, and it’s usually done with the help of a parental control application.

While the current trend is installing invisible apps to monitor your children’s online activity, Norton Safety Minder has a different approach. This free tool encourages parents to openly discuss and create computer usage rules with their children instead of just spying on them. Moreover, Norton Safety Minder is fully equipped to handle supervision of multiple user accounts & computers and provides a large variety of filters for websites, instant messaging, social networking and other aspects related with online computer activity.

Installation & Requirements

Norton Safety Minder is the desktop client of Norton Online Family, a cloud-based parental control service. Installing this application is straightforward, but you will have to create an account (for browser based management) and tell the program if there are any children using the computer during the process.

After Norton Safety Minder is installed, a wizard will guide the user into performing the basic settings for the program. These include adding children as different Windows user accounts which will be automatically created if such is the case. Norton Safety Minder will set the default “house rules” based on your child’s age and you’ll be able to modify them at any time from the browser-based control panel.

Norton Safety Minder is available for Windows and Mac operating systems with the same hardware requirements for both platforms: 300-MHz or higher CPU, 512 MB of RAM (256 MB minimum) and 100 MB of free hard disk space. The following Windows versions are supported: 32 and 64-bit Windows 7; 32 and 64-bit Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or later; 32-bit Windows XP Service Pack 2 or later.

The Mac version of Norton Safety Minder runs on Mac OS X 10.5 or higher and there are also apps available for Android and iOS mobile devices.

Interface

The desktop client runs in the system tray, including on the monitored Windows user accounts of your children. There is no interface available from here, just a right-click menu of the system tray icon. From here the “house rules” can be updated and edited. On monitored accounts a child will also be able to view the remaining time he/she is allowed to use the computer and the “house rules”. Actions like “extend time” and editing accounts cannot be performed without the parent’s e-mail and password.

Norton Safety Minder is just the program that monitors online activity on defined computers and/or Windows user accounts. The management and viewing of monitoring reports is done in a web browser by logging in the Norton Online Family website. Here you will be able to see the online activity of each child as a tabbed pane to easily access each category, such as visited websites, messaging, issued alerts, searches, social network activity and others.

From the browser-based interface you will be able to edit the settings which are very comprehensive but at the same time straightforward and easy to use. The program lets you customize allowed website categories manually and/or by age group, instant messaging and social networks supervision, notifications and others. Time settings can be customized in many ways. You can set up a number of hours per day for your child to use the computer and the program will automatically count the total time but also enable Time Blocking, a feature which blocks your child from using the computer in specific time intervals.

Pros

- Simple and fast installation.

- Equipped to handle multiple computers and Windows User accounts.

- Comprehensive customization options via Norton Online Family website, wrapped up in a clean, tabbed interface.

- Editing, setting and uninstall are password protected.

- Children can view the “house rules” and time remaining (if such is the case) via the system tray icon.

- Support is enabled for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS platforms.

Cons

- Not available for 64-bit versions of Windows XP.

- Unblocking a page has to be done from the Settings which is time-consuming.

- History logs are available only for the last 7 days for the free services.

Alternatives

- K9 Web Protection

- JuniorWatch

- Windows Live Family Safety

Conclusion

Parental control capabilities are also contained by a number of Internet Security suites and other security applications but few of them can be compared with Norton Safety Minder. The large number of filters, flawless handling of multiple computers and accounts along with the user-friendly layout makes it one of the best choices when it comes to free parental control software.

About Cezar Renta

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