You can set up and configure Net Nanny in moments. Simply choose an icon (they look like Keith Haring drawings) to create identities for every member of your household. You decide which sites, newsgroups, and IRC chat rooms to block for each user. Select sites from the Nanny's default list of blocked sites or create a custom list yourself. Next, click the Schedule Access tab to limit the amount of time Junior spends surfing. Now, Net Nanny's all set to start protecting your kids.
When Junior does encounter a restricted site, Net Nanny responds in one of several ways: it blocks access to the site, shuts down the browser, or allows the page to load, but pops up a standard or customized warning. Unlike Cyber Patrol or CyberSitter, Net Nanny lets you turn blocking off while still keeping a log of your children's online activities, including transcripts of any chats. As with the other programs, you can schedule Net Nanny to regularly update its list of forbidden URLs, but Nanny is the only filter that shows you which sites are on its list, then lets you check off the ones you want your kids to access.
Afraid your little ones will share inappropriate information with strangers online? Don't be. With Net Nanny, it's possible to prevent your browser, chat software, or e-mail client from transmitting personal data. (Alas, Net Nanny, like its competition, won't filter instant messengers such as MSN or ICQ.) To set up the personal information block, just fill out a few onscreen forms with the forbidden names, addresses, credit card numbers, names of schools or workplaces, and more. No other filtering software makes it so easy to block this type of information.
What about sites that don't post objectionable words, but display "Nude XXX Celebrity Pix"? You can set Net Nanny to blank out GIF and JPEG images (primary Web image formats), so even if your 15-year-old made it to sex-with-reptiles.com (not a real site, by the way), he wouldn't find much to look at. (Your Web browser lets you hide images, but there's no way to keep someone from undoing your settings.) You can also program Net Nanny to let Web pages and e-mail messages through but wipe out certain words, replacing them with #####.
The downside? Net Nanny can't tell the difference between a nudie picture or a baby picture, so it blocks all images without discretion. Your kids also won't be able to view the pics at legitimate sites and may struggle to make sense out of a page on Vice President #### Cheney. And even after you program the Nanny to block certain naughty words, it doesn't automatically block variations on a word; so bleep might be blocked, but bleeps, bleeper, and bleeping are not. You can add these variants to the word list, but it's a thankless, time-consuming chore.