The idea of our kids using the internet on their own can be scary for many of us parents. Part of being a parent (and a big part of why we homeschool) is to protect them from harmful influences. There’s plenty of objectionable content on the web, but the internet itself isn’t inherently bad. Like many other tools it can be both constructive and destructive.
The internet is a doorway to knowledge. Inside, there are many powerful learning tools. One such tool is BJU Press Distance Learning Online, which has helped thousands of homeschool families keep their children’s education on track. But how do you use these tools without also exposing your children to the bad stuff?
It can be done—and probably more easily than you think. Here are ways to use both hardware and software to harness the power of the web in your homeschool while keeping your kids safe.
Choosing the right device for your children to use to access the internet can go a long way toward protecting them online. Some are easier than others to manage and “lock down” for a controlled browsing experience.
My personal favorite device for this purpose is a Chromebook™ notebook computer. These inexpensive laptops run Google’s web-centric Chrome OS™ operating system. Though not ideal for all workloads, they’re a top choice in schools because they have built-in keyboards and can be easily managed by teachers, which also makes them perfect for homeschoolers. You can lock the laptop down to being able to display only a set of websites that you define, meaning you can limit your child’s access to only Distance Learning Online if you want to. And it can all be done with a few clicks without any special knowledge of the platform.
Here’s all you have to do:
- Enable “Supervised Users” in the settings menu
- Create a “Supervised User” account for your child
- Visit https://chrome.google.com/manage/su and select “Allow only approved sites”
- Add sites to the list
If you already have a device that you use or want to protect your entire family, a software solution might be the best option. Covenant Eyes® is a special kind of software that can be installed on multiple devices to filter and monitor web access. It can be used to block out specific sites and stores a record of all sites visited (for accountability purposes). They do charge a monthly fee for a family subscription.
You can learn more about Covenant Eyes® here.
I hope these ideas help your family have a safe web experience. If you’ve found other ways to protect your family, help others by mentioning them in the comments below!