Supervised Users Were an Awesome Google Feature
In a dumbfounding move, on January 12, 2018, Google froze its Supervised User functionality. For many families, this move renders their Chromebooks as unsafe.
Google Chromebooks have been sold by the millions, used by schools and families as an inexpensive, fast, and uncomplicated way to get online. Although the Chrome OS made these devices difficult to monitor and filter through traditional parental control software methods, Google had a feature called Supervised Users, giving parents extensive control over a child’s web activity.
But, on January 8, 2018, many parents like me received the following e-mail from Google:
Here’s a summary:
- We’re taking Supervised Users away. You can still enjoy the Supervised Users you created before January 12, but as a parent, you can’t review the sites they’ve visited, adjust a black/white list, or really do anything other have Google Safe Search.
- And, we aren’t giving parents anything to replace Supervised Users. Yet. (Thanks!)
It really is a shocking move. And, parents are extremely upset. In one Google Forum, parents were relentless and punishing toward Google, as exemplified with this comment:
“[Google] can we have the real scoop here – what’s going on, why would Google do this, and why the rush to deprecate? Did you discover some major security flaw in supervised users or something? I can’t believe Google is in such financial straits that it needed to fire the team working on this immediately, especially since it barely changed in years. Nor can I believe that its advertising revenue was so negatively impacted by children not being able to click around. What is happening and why should parents ever invest in Google products or commit to using its services again?”
How do Parents Monitor Chromebooks without Supervised Users?
There are a few, but limited options. If the Chromebook is school-issued, and the school is monitoring browsing activity even when the Chromebook is outside of its network, then the deprecation of Supervised Users isn’t as big of a parental concern. But, if you own the Chromebook and/or a school-issued Chromebook is not monitored outside of the school’s network, then parents will need to take some action.
[PS. If you’re not sure if your school-issued Chromebook is monitored outside of the school’s network, then ask questions until you find out. This is important to know. And, if it is monitored, does the school have a reporting process back to parents if inappropriate sites are visited? Again, dig until you find an answer.]
1. Use OpenDNS to monitor the home network.
OpenDNS is a free domain-blocking service to block web sites or non-Web servers visited based upon categories, allowing control over the type of sites that may be accessed. For families, this is a must, so that you can have greater assurance that visitors aren’t using your wireless signal inappropriately.
2. Use Mobicip to monitor the Chromebook.
We’ve recommended Mobicip for years. And, now more than ever, until Google provides a replacement for Supervised Users.
3. Make the parent the Chromebook Administrator.
4. Turn off Chromebook guest browsing.
5. Limit other Chromebook users.
We explain how to make the Parent the Administrator (and how to perform a factory reset so that the parent can make him/herself the Administrator), turn off guest browsing, and limit unauthorized logins in the Device section of Protect Young Eyes.
If you choose not to do these things, then please treat the Chromebook like a high-risk device.
This means being hyper vigilant about when and where it’s used. No bedrooms. Never at night. Only used public places. Homework use only (and clearly communicate the consequences if these restrictions are abused). Parents, the unfiltered internet is never a place for kids (or parents) to be wandering through unattended.
Related post: The 4 Worst Places for Kids to be Online
Our Conclusion: Google Doesn’t Understand Parents
The Protect Young Eyes team is shocked by this move. But, based on Google’s lack of consistent YouTube parental controls, recent revelations about inadequate monitoring of YouTube Kids video content, undetected pedophile activity in comments on videos containing children, and now, the extinction of their best parent feature without a replacement, we have less and less faith in the digital giants who control our online interactions (Facebook, Google, Snapchat, etc.).
Please, go get Mobicip today and protect your Chromebook.
**We have an Exciting Announcement!!
For our faith-based followers, we are on the verge of releasing a streaming curriculum that teaches media savvy kids and their families how to honor God with technology. It’s called Virtue in Media, and it will include videos for schools, church youth groups, home educators, and parents to use with kids about relevant digital topics (pornography, predators, bullies, image, etc.). Want to be the first to know when Virtue in Media is ready? Leave your email on the landing page by clicking here.
I love life. Seriously! Each. Day. A. Gift. Former CPA, business advisor, youth pastor, development director, porn survivor. Current marketing manager for Covenant Eyes and CEO of PYE. God shares wild ideas with me about life while I run. I love guiding parents to teach their kids how to use technology well while protecting them from the bad stuff.