Google has recently released the new Chrome features “Noisy tabs” and “Supervised users”. Although “Supervised users” feature is still in BETA, it gives us a clue what Google strives for. It seems that Google makes the first steps in parental controls right within the Chrome browser. It is kind of free web filtering service in the early development age.
What is Chrome “Supervised users” all about?
In short words, you act as Chrome Manager and create additional Chrome users called Supervised users. As a Manager you are given a special Dashboard where you see other user’s activity like browsing history, but besides that you can control for each user which sites are allowed and which sites need to be blocked.
In order to use this feature, Chrome Manager needs to sign in to Chrome first. Then, in the Chrome Settings menu (paste this address “chrome://settings/” in the address bar and press Enter), the manager creates new users:
Create as many different users as you want to manage. Make sure you mark the field “This is supervised user managed by <your gmail address>“. After creating a supervised user, you will receive a confirmation email.
Then using a dedicated Dashboard for this purpose, the manager can see the surfing habits of all supervised users and apply specific Internet policies for each one of them. Although this is basic web filtering, it is pretty effective.
Approach 1: Allow all of the web except blocked sites
I created a trial user Spandex and using the option “Manage Permissions” available in the Dashboard, I added Facebook in the blocked sites list, actually I blocked entire domain. Then I switched to Spandex and start surfing the web. When I tried to open Facebook, guess what?
Facebook was blocked by Chrome and it offers Spandex to request permission, which I found as nice option.
After this, I switched back to the Dashboard. Here is what I saw:
Spandex is allowed to surf all of the web, except the blocked site Facebook. As a Manager I saw that Spandex has requested Facebook to be unlocked. I also noticed that Spandex was trying to open apps.facebook.com but since the entire domain was blocked, the request was denied.
Approach 2: Allow only specific sites
Contrary to this, Chrome Manager can define the “Allowed sites” list. Using the Manage Permissions, he can create only-allowed-sites list, which means all unlisted sites will be forbidden.
I think this new Chrome “Supervised users” feature will be acknowledged by many of its users including parents and teachers.
Parents will be able to monitor their children’s activities online and react accordingly. It is important to know that Supervised user is only another Chrome user and it is not same as adding another user to the operating system though. Parents should log off their Chrome user before handing it off and the kid will use a special shortcut placed on the Desktop. However you can still have a dedicated user created at OS level for your kid only – it should be a restricted user, considering that it should use only Chrome and not be able to install different Internet browsers.
Teachers could also benefit from this. In smaller school environments, where there is no professional and centrally managed web filtering software, teachers can successfully manage a Chrome based classroom and keep students focus during the class . It would be nice if for this purpose Google adds improvements to the Supervised users Dashboard such as Chrome Classroom management, that way automating the configuration process.
For more powerful service for web filtering see this guide.