The Chromebook is unique because it isn’t really a full fledge computer. They are designed to just run a browser so you can access the internet. This makes them affordable and easy to use. Because of this the Chromebook is often the chosen computer for schools. So your child may have been assigned a Chromebook when they were enrolled in school. While they must have content controls set while they are on school property there aren’t any regulations requiring schools to keep them protected while off campus. Here are some options for how you can protect your kids while they use their Chromebooks.
This is an account based system that’s built into the Chrome browser. It allows you to set filters, monitor sites visited, prevent installation of apps, turn on safesearch, and change settings. You do have to use blacklists or whitelists to block websites, there is not an automatic filter built in. I recommend using THIS LIST of blacklist sites provided by a University in France. It’s a pretty extensive set of blacklists and will take some effort to set up but if you don’t want to just set the Chromebook to only access a few domains then copy pasting sites from these lists is your best option. You can access the supervised accounts by going to chrome.google.com/manage.
Click THIS LINK to see Google’s set up instructions for a supervised user account.
One of the only full service filter and monitoring apps for Chromebook, Mobicip offers a plugin that you can download from the Chrome app store. Mobicip will give you customizable filters, time limit controls, and usage reports and its pretty easy to set up. You just download the extension from the Chrome app store and then login. It takes you through the setup steps and lets you set your desired filter levels. Once it’s all set up you can make changes from anywhere using their web based controls dashboard. Their SUPPORT page has good How-To resources to walk you through the process.
If you want more controls than the Supervised User option gives you then Mobicip is a pretty good choice. It’s $39.99 per year for all of the features mentioned above for up to five devices. If you are going to need to protect more than twenty devices (I’ve met families with upwards of 30) then you’ll have to get a quote for their “Enterprise” option. Mobicip is a good option and will give you quite a bit of control.
The final option is an accountability software. This, combined, with the Supervised User Account may be all you need. Accountability software doesn’t block content. This software will keep an eye on what’s being viewed and then red flag and report anything that it deems inappropriate. This allows you to more easily see when something questionable has been viewed. Otherwise you’ll spend time sifting through link after unrecognizable link to find something that may be naughty. You can even set up Accountable2You to send you a text message when an inappropriate site was accessed. The software works across all of your devices including Chromebook and is $6.99 per month for six devices and $9.99 per month for twenty devices. They have easy setup instructions on their SUPPORT page and have excellent customer service.
Whether your kids got Chromebooks from you to help with schoolwork or they were school issued, it’s critical that you have some sort of parental control solution set up. I recommend using one or more of these to set up a plan to help your kids be safer online. The statistics say that only one out of every three kids who saw something inappropriate online was looking for it. The fact that you have well behaved children doesn’t apply here. The internet isn’t well behaved and we have to make the effort to keep them safe.
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