Thursday, 23 April 2009

Internet Safety: Norton Online Family

Webware reports that Norton Online Family is leaving beta will be remaining free until the end of 2009. What's different from other online family suites is the it's focus on creating a dialogue between children and the parents on what's safe and what's not.

As Webware says:

This parental control suite provides parents with an interesting and possibly unique approach to online child safety. Norton Online Family does provide a blacklist, boilerplate for most parental control software. However, the suite offers more than just an on/off switch, and provides tools that encourage communication between parents and their children.

There's a wide range of control over what sites a child can access. The restrictions can vary from a strict no-access policy that can block specific sites and site categories, to a more lenient notification e-mail sent to the parents when the child visits sites that parents merely want to me warned about. On the child's side, kids are given the option of e-mailing their parents when they're blocked--if the parents allow those e-mails the first place.

Jody Gibney, product manager for Norton Online Family, said, "We want to encourage a different philosophical approach, encouraging parents to talk to kids instead of setting up an adversarial relationship." To further that, the program's House Rules can be customized to suit the needs of individual children within each family, a useful feature since a teenager will have different browsing and social networking interests than an 8-year-old.

It seems like they must have hired some psychologists to work on the actual product. For example, in the help section there is a section entitled Start the Talk. It's interesting to note that on the Norton website there is an actual Family Resource Center where parents can go for advice as well.

It apparently monitors social networks as well so parents can see what kids are doing online.

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