I have two young kids that are doing full virtual learning during the pandemic. Prior to this, they haven’t spent much time on computers, and subsequently I hadn’t invested much time in kid-proofing. They’re spending a lot of time on the computer now, though, and exploring more as they become increasingly competent and comfortable.
So, I wanted to do a few things to make sure they have a safer computing environment to work with. However, as I was doing this, I felt like some steps — like creating a group policy — might not be something that everyday folks are familiar with.
Kid Computing Requirements
Before I get into the steps I’ve taken, I wanted to add a quick note about what we needed. I actually began the school year with the kids using Ubuntu, but we switched to Windows 10 due to too many small technical issues — death by a thousand cuts sort of thing. Some of my guidance could be made safer — like blocking YouTube entirely — but it interferes with some of their online lessons.
So, for some additional context, I wanted to share our “requirements” to keep in mind. My kids’ school uses websites that take advantage of Firefox & Chrome extensions as well as Zoom for live instruction. That’s about it!
1. Create non-admin user accounts
Creating “standard” user accounts prevents them from installing applications from the internet. This seems pretty simple, and Windows makes it look pretty straightforward with its Family account. However, creating a kid account requires you to have a Microsoft account, and I don’t want to create a hotmail or outlook.com account for my kindergartner.
Instead, I chose to create local user accounts for my kids. There are some tradeoffs with this. For example, you can’t take advantage of Microsoft’s built-in parental controls like setting computing options and website blocking. I didn’t want to rely on those things, though, because of limitations like not blocking browsing for non-Microsoft browsers.
These are the steps for creating a local user account that’s not linked to a Microsoft account i.e. no email address required. It’s not super hard but not very intuitive, either. Here’s what you do: