Now Chromebooks and the Chrome browser provide slight parental controls.
While Google has made this feature available for some time in Chrome, the company finally introduced Supervised Users to the beta channel. This Chrome parental control first reared its head back in December when developers stumbled across "Managed User Settings" in the Canary build. The feature then became part of Canary during the summer.
Managed Accounts should be quite handy for parents who need to track their teen's whereabouts online (especially those sneaky enough to erase their history), and keep the younger kids off inappropriate sites. The feature should also be highly useful on Chromebooks, which uses Chrome as the operating system, allowing parents to restrict younger users from inappropriate sites and apps.
"Let's say you've recently purchased the new HP Chromebook 11 and want to share it with your son. He'll be able to use your Chromebook as a supervised user," writes Google's Pam Greene, Software Engineer and surf instructor. "This means once you've created a supervised user for him on your Chromebook, you'll be able to visit chrome.com/manage to review a history of web pages he has visited, determine sites that you want to allow or block, and manage permissions for any blocked websites he has requested to view."
To set up Chrome for multiple users, simply head into Settings, scroll down to the Users section, and then hit Create. A window pops up to set up a new account, so make sure the box for "this is a supervised user managed by" is checked, and you should be good to go. The Manage site allows users to manage site permissions, answer requests to access specific sites, and browse the supervised user's activity.
Based on a little hands-on, this browser feature seems to work on a single Windows primary account when a PC is set up with multiple logins. For example, my wife and I have a homeschool PC dedicated to the kids, set up with my account and two additional accounts for each child. Although I could set up supervised users on my Windows account, the option didn't show up on their accounts even after making sure the browser was updated to the latest beta and signing in to my Google account.
That said, this new feature seems more focused on Chromebooks, and limiting access on a single Windows user account. "Creating a supervised user in Chrome is not the same as adding another user on your operating system," reads Google's support site. "A supervised user is an additional Chrome user, and can close the supervised user windows and access other Chrome users available on the computer. If you are the manager of a supervised user, you can always remove your own Chrome profile from the computer or sign out of Chrome before handing it off to a supervised user."
Still, the move is a step in the right direction, and according to Greene, it's just the beginning. "We hope this new feature helps you share Chromebooks with everyone in your family," she writes. "Additionally, you can try an early version of supervised users on Chrome beta for Windows, Mac and Linux, too. This is just the beginning — we'd love to get your feedback on features you'd like to see. If you're on the beta channel, supervised users will begin rolling out this week."
As of this writing, Chrome is a Version 31.0.1650.26 beta-m.