As a parent we are always concerned about our children’s safety. It begins the minute they are born and doesn’t end even when they move away from home. However, when it comes to the internet and to technology we might not know how to keep them safe. Some people err on the side of naivety and think “Everyone is doing it, it must be OK.” On the other hand, there are families who choose to avoid the internet because they do not feel they know enough to keep their children safe.
I want to address Google and how it can benefit your family. As you may know, there is an age requirement to have a Google account, unless you are a child in a school which has created Google accounts for their students. This an enormous responsibility and it is important to implement Google Apps for Education with careful consideration. At one time, Google was just associated with Gmail, but Google has many other resources. For example, Google offers free word processing, similar to Microsoft Word, as well as other resources that students of all ages will find useful. As a parent, you can create a Family Google account, where you are the primary name on the account. This allows your children to share a google account that is monitored by you and by keeping it separate, they don’t have access to any important documents you may own.
Having a family account is also a good practice when setting up Android tablets and Chromebooks. One of my children received a Samsung tablet. When I took it out of the box, it asked for my Google account, so I entered my work account. A few days later, I noticed that my child’s picture appeared on another contacts profile. This made me very uncomfortable and I wondered if my child’s picture was appearing on the web. It wasn’t until a few days later, I realized my child was accessing my contacts and making the changes. Needless to say, we created a family account.
Another reason to consider a Family Google Account is the access it provides for children to have Free word processing technology to begin to meet the technology standards for English Language Arts. Technology standards begin as early as 1st grade:
W.1.6 Use a computer or tablet to publish writing.
By Third grade
W.3.6 Use a computer or tablet to create and publish writing and to communicate or work with others.
In fourth grade the standards includes the ability for students to write 1 page in a single sitting then each year it advances. By 7th grade students should use computers & internet to create and publish writing, link and cite sources, and collaborate with others (W 7.6).
While there is still debate regarding these standards, I believe students should become familiar with using technology. By having these state standards all students are guaranteed access to the technology to meet these standards, not just those who can afford it. The beauty of Google, it that it is FREE! And it is possible to get reasonably priced devices which allow young children the ability to produce high quality work.
To create an account, follow these steps:
- Go to https://accounts.google.com/signup
- Create a username- consider something appropriate for your family
- Create a password – consider something easy for young minds to remember if necessary
- Birthday – Use your birthday, remember this is your account for your students to use.
Once the family account is created, I recommend adding the Gmail account to your mobile device, Android or Apple. This will give you peace of mind and the ability to check if your child is sending or receiving emails. Many families choose to use iPads and tablets for their students (See Keeping children safe online). These devices allow parents to choose which APPS are installed on the device. These apps have many of the same functions as the full browser version (i.e. Chrome), but are not as robust. One main feature that is not supported in most of the App mobile versions is the ability to add images from the Web. Although this is a limitation, it also is an added protection for your child’s minds and eyes. Remember, when setting up the apps on these devices, use the family Google account.