Chrome browser's parental controls could be a game-changer

Google Chrome's 'Supervised Users' option could offer parents a more efficient way of monitoring children's viewing habits, eliminating the need for third-party parental control software.

Google Chrome
Google Chrome's 'Supervised Users' option could change the landscape of parental controls.

Are new revisions to the Google Chrome browser the future of parental security options on computers?

While parental monitoring and surfing restriction software already exists (this rundown gives you a nice overview; this more recent techradar writeup has a program-by-program rundown), the Chrome "Supervised Users" option would bring into the mainstream the ability for parents to limit and/or monitor their kids' browsing habits to an extraordinary degree. By bundling the power to regulate kids' browsing with the browser itself, it obviates the need to research and install third-party solutions, which brings the practice of parental Internet monitoring another step away from the realm of tech-savvy activists and toward general practice.

In a nutshell, the Supervised Users option in Chrome would let parents create secondary user accounts for their kids governed by a parental administrator account. Kids would log in to their own account (which would have its own parent-tailored settings and permissions based on their age, behavior history, and the parent's parenting style) and browse. The new software allows both "whitelists" and "blacklists" of sites: the former creates a world of approved sites that the browser could go to, with everything else off-limits; the latter creates banned sites (with everything else approved for browsing by default.)

But the key to the effectiveness of the new software is, like so many things, dependent on having active and involved parents. There really is no off-the-shelf solution that instantly fixes the Internet for kids – it takes time and energy to create blacklist or whitelist sites; it takes time and energy to review those sites periodically and expand or contract your kid's online universe appropriately; and most critically in the case of the new software, it takes time to review your kids' browser history to look for patterns and get a sense of how they're using the Internet.

For some parents and some kids, it might be enough to offer general guidelines and just review the browser history every week or two; for others, a carefully curated whitelist might be the best way to ensure productive and safe use of the Web.

Handled with the light touch of an observant parent, Chrome's new parental controls could help usher in a new era of safe (OK: safer, or "semi-safe" might be a bit more accurate) surfing for young people.

Of course, this is all well and good until your kids install a secret browser. Or use an unsecured computer at their friend's house. Or penetrate your administrator account with keystroke software or old-fashioned espionage. The cloak-and-dagger dance of parenting and children's mischief waltzes onward...

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Chrome browser's parental controls could be a game-changer
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today