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Chromebooks for Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Setting Up Supervised Users

The world wide web can be a wild place, but with the Chromebook’s new Supervised Users feature parents can begin to fence in the playground.

A Parent's Guide to Supervised Users

Debates discussing how young is too young to have access to the Internet will always exist, as will discussions about how much parental oversight is justified. One thing is certain, however: parental controls have long been a very popular feature request for Chromebooks.

The request hasn’t fallen on deaf ears – the Chrome Team has been busy building a comprehensive feature called “Supervised Users” that supercharges local accounts on Chrome OS devices and binds them to a web management tool. Parents can set up a new user account for each child and remotely monitor web activity, block sites in real-time, and configure SafeSearch.

If you happen to be a parent gifting a Chromebook this holiday season, look no further than this easily printable guide for making sure your children are safe online.

Configuring Supervised Users on a Chromebook

The first item to note is that this feature is still in beta, which means it requires being activated. I expect the feature to reach maturity soon in an upcoming milestone release, but I cannot promise that will happen prior to Christmas morning. As a result, I’m including the easy activation instructions alongside this guide – they will be made irrelevant in the future and may be edited out at that point in time.

Step 1: Log in to the Chromebook with Your Google Account

This is a crucial, but easily missed requirement. For supervised users to work, they must be connected to a Google Account that can manage them using the online tool. This means your first course of action is to setup your own profile on the device.

Step 2: Enable the Supervised User Flag

Chrome OS uses a hidden menu for storing beta features, allowing them to be off by default for most users but opt-in for people interested in trying them out. In the case of the Supervised User feature, enabling the option is easy:

  1. Open a new tab and visit chrome://flags
  2. Scroll down to “Enable Supervised Users”
  3. Select “Enable”
  4. Restart your session
Enable Supervised Users

Enable Supervised Users Flag

Step 3: Create a New User

Once the feature is enabled, you can begin the process of creating a new local managed user account on the Chromebook. The process is simple and quick.

  1. Sign out of your account or restart the device
  2. On the login screen, select “Add user” from the bottom left menu
  3. When presented with a login screen, select “Create a supervised user” from the right panel
  4. Fill out the user credentials, including selecting a password and a profile photo
Create A New Supervised User

Create A New Supervised User

Step 4: Verify the Account and Manage it on the Web

Once the steps above are completed, your child should be able to log successfully into their user account. You can verify it is a supervised account because of the “Supervised User Account” text in the user tray at the bottom right of your screen. Congrats, you’re now ready to manage the account online.

Permission Control Dialog

Permission Control Dialog Shown to the Superviser

The management tool is available at chrome.com/manage, and is entirely free to use. You may be prompted to log in to your Google Account prior to having access to the tool – please use your own account credentials (not the username and password you created for your children).

Navigating the tool is a breeze; you may select users from the left panel and permissions for each account are shown at the top right. User browsing activity may be viewed at the bottom, with requests for access to specific sites directly above it (handy if your child needs access to a school-approved website for homework and you’re still at work!).

Request Permission Dialog

Request Permission Dialog Shown to the User

For those curious, when a website that is blocked is visited on the device a message appears, informing the user and directing them to contact the account holder that manages their own account. The message provides an easy way to request permission to view the website in question.

Relax, and know that your children are browsing safely with their Chromebook

If you run into any questions or concerns when using the tool, please consult the dedicated FAQ Page. Additionally, since this feature is still in beta, the Chrome Team would love to hear your feedback on how the tool could be expanded and improved. There is an ongoing discussion thread on the official Chrome support forum. Please feel to chime in!

Visit the Chrome Supervised Users FAQ

Visit the Chrome Supervised User Management Tool

Provide Feedback to the Chrome Team About Supervised Users

  • http://kennydude.me/ Joe Simpson

    It’s in normal chrome too! :D

  • Derek Birnie

    Great start, but building a whitelist or a blacklist from scratch will be a daunting task. No pre-built profiles for age groups?

  • scoobette01

    Supervised User is a lame feature. You can’t add any apps to it so your kids can do their homework with Google Docs or play games from the app store.

    And Chromebooks are lame for kids without some sort of parental control feature. I think Google knows this and couldn’t care less. It is ridiculous that a company that will put considerable resources into projects like Google Glass and Google Car cannot even do it’s customers the courtesy of creating a parental control extension or app that actually works. I mean, c’mon, just copy what Amazon has already managed to do really well with its Kindle Free Time app. Seriously, please copy Amazon.

    I’m going to give this farce another month to see if anything usable actually gets developed. If not, I am disposing of both Chromebooks I bought for my kids, because right now they are useless.

    • Jeremy

      Did you get rid of them? I am considering getting rid of my wife’s due to how lousy Cloud Print is. I really like the Chromebook for her usage and the price we paid, but the horrible print support is really a deal breaker.

    • Guest

      Couldn’t they just go to Google Docs through the Chrome browser instead of using the app?

      • scoobette01

        That sounds like a decent work around. I haven’t tried it yet though.

        • Ghenghis john

          my kids access Google Docs through Chrome and it works well. I agree with you about the apps, though. I would like them to have enjoy themselves a little on the computer, but not too much. Kids can spend all day on youtube if you let them. It would be nice if there was some way to limit the time they can spend on certain sites.

      • penina

        how do you do this. been trying for the last hour . everytime i make it an allowed site it is still blocked when i try and access it as the kids? help!

  • blue_wolverine

    Great concept……terrible delivery. User dashboard couldn’t block a site if my life depended on it.

    I REALLY like how Google anything is always in BETA. That’s so they don’t have to support any of it. Instead they just remind you it’s still in BETA. At least, that’s the responses I always get.

  • mundo2

    I can’t seem to get the same supervised account to appear on multiple Chromebooks without having to setup another account. Is there a way of doing this or is this yet another limitation?