How to “Really” Make a Chromebook Child Safe


The Problem With Parental Controls

Parental Controls on a Chromebook are Worthless.  

Using Supervised Settings in Chromebook

Using Chromebook’s Supervised Settings

Ok… maybe these so called “Parental Controls” (accessed in the setting area of the chrome browser, see illustration to the right) are partially helpful – but not really.

Let me explain.

Parental Controls, at their most draconian level, seem to allow the parent or supervisor to “white-list” or “allow” only certain webpages (urls) in they will grant their children access.

However, even if one has only “white-listed” a bare minimum for writing and storing papers ie: only access to the child’s Google Drive & Google Docs — so the child can create school papers and reports…. and other websites are not white-listed or allowed…. your child can still visit the web “indirectly” without problems.  

See For Yourself

To simply test out this weakness in Google Docs, just open your own google drive and create a new Google Document.  

Then, on the top task bar of the document, click on “Tools” tab, and pick the “Research” option (see image below).

 

Google Docs Research Tool Image

Google Docs Research Tool Image

 

Immediately a Research Panel opens to the right of your document with a “Search Bar” at the top of the Research Pane.  

On the Tiny Down Arrow (within the Search Bar), click search “Images,” and type something, and tons of images will start populating the Search Panel Window. 

Within this Search Panel Window, populated by images, one can keep scrolling down, to keep calling up more new images.

So much for true parental control!


Controlling Internet Access

Now at some point, you have to trust your child, and start allowing internet access, and definitely white-list Google Drive/Docs, with it’s “Research Tool” — truly a good starting point to allowing more internet access.

And, when you want to start loosening the reigns on the your child’s chromebook, you can choose to gently unleash the power of the web with a with parental control chrome browser extension apps — such as Blocksi.

However, many parents may feel that, some of their children, still lack enough discipline, at certain ages:

And the parents know, that even if they are just curious, that their kids would rather be browsing images for hours, instead of staying focused, working on important school assignments.

Going Off-Line

So here’s the deal.  

If at this stage in your child’s development, you really want to make a chromebook truly child-safe:  

And, for the time being, simply eliminate the dangers and distractions of the internet from you child —

Then simply create a dedicated “Off-Line Chromebook.”

I’m not talking about just disconnecting or disabling the chromebook’s current internet connection, or refusing to enter your secure router’s password into the chromebook settings….

…because those are just temporary and incomplete fixes.

Disabling or disconnecting a specific connection in the WiFi menu in the chromebook’s settings does not prevent your child from connecting to other WiFi networks —

For example, the public library, community college, coffee shop, YMCA, local business, medical/dental clinics, or even other family home routers in your neighborhood (in which the owners failed to set up their router with a secure password) can easily be substituted.

Rather, to make a kid’s chromebook’s truly safe, one needs to go a step further — and truly disable Wi-Fi access altogether.  

But… there is no software setting in the chromebook’s operating system to disable and lock the WiFi software (or internal antenna) in a completely off position.

Instead, the work-around, here, is to simply open your child’s chromebook, and detach the WiFi Wireless WLAN Card from the chromebook’s power supply (see photos below).


Finding the Wi-Fi Card

Opening the Chromebook is just a matter of unscrewing a few tiny screws on the bottom of the device, and then popping the bottom of the clam shell covering off.

Identify All the Screws on the Underside of the Chromebook (13 on this model)

Identify All the Screws on the Underside

Opening the Chromebook to find the WiFi Card

Open the Chromebook to find the WiFi Card

 

Once inside, simply look for the WiFi Wireless WLAN Card, and snap off the two tiny wires from their WiFi card terminals–

and wha-la —  you’ve cut off the power supply to this tiny Wi-Fi Card and “permanently” deactivated it.

 

Disconnecting the Chromebook WiFi Card Cables

Disconnect the “Wi-Fi Card” Cables

Close the Chromebook back up

Replace the Screws & Close the Chromebook

Screw the bottom cover back onto the chromebook and you are done.

Image: From a my C720 Acer 11″ Chromebook

(Note: a few models use solder instead of snap connections)


A Dedicated Child Safe Chromebook

Sure, a youngster could figure out“Your Wi-Fi Card Secret” — but most kids, especially under junior high school age, are not going to go to the extreme measures of opening up a sealed chromebook, and studying its insides, to figure out where the disconnected circuit lies.

Before you unhook the WiFi Card, you may want to go to your child’s cloud-based Google Drive, and either “sync” and save the Google Docs to the chromebook, so they will be on the local machine for later “off-line” use.  

Various USB Thumb Drives

Various USB Thumb Drives

Or, simply go to Google Drive, then open each document, and download it to the local chromebook’s “download folder,” and then from there, move it onto a removable, connected, USB thumb drive.

That way, once off-line, your child can have his own personal USB thumb drive (find on Amazon.com)

with all his docs there, ready to plug back into the off-line chromebook for further access or modification (using Google Docs off-line) whenever desired. 

It is easy to continue using Google Docs, logged onto their supervised account, off-line, in this manner — all without Wi-Fi.

Thumb Drive Mobility Benefits

And with a USB thumb drive:

When a school report (ie: google document) is completed, it can be quickly saved to the thumb drive, detached, and plugged into a “fixed/more supervised,” centrally-located, on-line chromebook or chromebox (ie: in the kitchen, living room) — to be emailed to a teacher or cloud-printed to paper.  

Simple as that.  No need for 24/7 Gmail, or internet, for your children.  

This works in our family.  It helps keep our little ones more focused on getting their reports and other school work completed without the temptation and distractions of the internet on their “Kid’s Off-Line Chromebook.”

Anyway, “food for thought” — to at least consider with your children or your family’s situation.

Hope this article was helpful.  Thanks for your visit & for supporting this site!

Yours, Chromebooker.


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