Sunday, January 22, 2012

Organizing kid school accounts with OS X: Chrome to the rescue

In the twilight of the general purpose computer, I struggle to balance OS X and Apple tech, Google services, parental obligations, and getting work done.

Our iOS  and OS X devices are parental controlled -- at least as far as they can be. Among other things, that means Google services are unavailable on child accounts. [1].

Schools, however, make increasing use of Google Apps [2]. This is how I reconcile that use case with our general approach to home computing:

  1. You need the username and password for the school Google Apps account. Example:
  2. Create a single non-controlled "homework" account on the primary homework machine.
  3. Use Google Chrome, not Safari, for this account.
  4. In Chrome create a user account for each child. For each account, from Chrome Preferences, choose to sync Google. You will be asked for the school user name and password.
  5. Add gmail, docs and so on to the toolbar.

Each child uses this single OS X account with their own Chrome identity. Use of this account requires direct parental supervision. It is used only for homework. On personal OS X accounts our kids don't directly access our Family Google Apps domain, they use OS X, for example, to get email. They don't know their Family Google Apps passwords.

[1] Partly by design and partly due to market disinterest, Google services are not compatible with OS Parental Controls.
[2] Alas, this transition occurred even as Google's Hyde crushed its Jeckyl.

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