Most of you know how much I like our Norton Online Family parental control software. Not only is it very easy to use but it just works. Each parent can find the balance they want between limiting dangerous or inappropriate online content, setting boundaries around the appropriate amount of time spent online and allowing our the protection to adjust with our children’s developing maturity and skill. The Norton Online Family team has designed it to respect parent and child relationships, to encourage communication about safe Internet use and to help reinforce House Rules. House Rules have been shown to decrease the chance a young person encounters online risk. How marvelous when good parenting skills combine with free technology to help our young people enjoy the Internet in safety.
As our children increasingly access the internet via mobile devices, a new challenge in helping port those House Rules to these devices has arisen. 1 in 3 children access the web on a mobile device, be it a cell phone, tablet or other item. Today we introduce a great additional tool in Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition. The Norton Safety Minder is the small application each computer protected with your Norton Online Family account must have. The new Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition is the small application for your Android mobile device.
If you are already using Norton Online Family as I am, getting started with NSM:ME is as easy as can be. Just visit the app store on the Android device and download the app. You’ll login with your Norton account and be prompted to assign the device to one of your children on your account. Instantly, the same House Rules you use to protect that child on your family computers will be applied.
For a new Norton Online Family user, your additional steps will include setting up the account and those Rules but you will also find it very easy to get started.
OK, now for some of the great features. We spoke at length with our current Norton Online Family users and they told us what to include. Most important to these parents were setting filters for approved and blocked websites and categories. You can track for up to seven days of web activity on the mobile device.
For parents with a paid subscription to Norton Online family Premier, there are three additional features. I have to admit, these extras seem important to me and are a worthy reason to upgrade your account. Premier subscribers will enjoy additional features on all the protected computers as well as the mobile device.
First of the extra features for Premier users: the ability to monitor your child’s texting and MMS messaging. Who are they texting with and what are they saying? And there’s a great deal of flexibility in that the feature is not on by default and you can choose to monitor more or less depending on your child’s age, their experience with messaging and their maturity. As an example, with my youngest who is new to having a cell phone, I’m still helping her learn how to block spam messages and unwanted callers. She’ll get the highest levels of monitoring. My daughter who is an older teen will have very little monitoring since I trust her and her maturity to manage her communications.
Imagine though a middle-schooler getting their first phone. All the kids are eager to share phone numbers and text with each other throughout the day and night. After all, the average teen exchanges more than 3400 text messages a month! Should texting drama or cyberbullying start up, a tween might not have the maturity or sophistication to block messages from mean peers or those with more social power than they. How wonderful to have an application like Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition that can be configured to alert kids that their communication is observed by an adult and for the child to be able to blame the parents if they “have to” block an unwanted person. Remember, with all our Norton Online Family products, there is no “spy” or “stealth” mode. Children know their parents are there, looking out for them.
If you are concerned about sexting (although the latest research shows only a tiny minority, 1%, of teens engages in sharing sexual explicit photos and images), Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition can at least let you know when image and video messages are sent. You won’t see the actual content but you can begin a conversation with your child, if that is a worry for you.
Lastly, Premier users have the ability to know what apps are installed and uninstalled on your child’s Android device. If you suspect your child is using a free texting app to bypass your text account limits or monitoring, you’ll know. Or if you are concerned your child is using apps you wouldn’t approve of, having greater awareness of this activity should allow you to rest more easily. And again, as with all Norton Online Family applications, your child will always see the little “child holding a smartphone” icon on their Android device and know the program is running, reinforcing your House Rules.
Norton Online Family, the family safety service, is available in 25 languages and is free. The Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition is also free and is available for the Android platform in English, Japanese, German and Polish. The introductory price of our Norton Online Family Premier edition is $29.99 in the US only. For more information about Norton Online Family, please visit the Norton Online Family website. To download the Norton Safety Minder: Mobile Edition, please visit the Android app store with your mobile device.