One of my goals in testing my Chromebook was to see if it would provide a viable way for my young son to do his homeschool assignments on the road. He is enrolled in a homeschool curriculum which is based primarily online, so if he can get to the Internet, he can do his assignments. Since Google graciously paid the bill for two years of limited (100MB/month) mobile Internet access via Verizon’s cellular network, it seemed to be a perfect idea. Step one: sign him on!
Problem: the long arm of the law
I can’t sign him on. Not legally. Why? Because children under the age of 13 can’t legally have Google accounts. That’s nothing specifically against Google, of course, since other sites have the same legal restriction. But his not being able to set up an account at an online site has never before prevented him from being able to use a computer!
Now, you might stop me there and say “wait a minute, just sign him in as a guest!” While you can do that, guests can’t install nor use apps. My son needs a word processor for some of his assignments, and I wanted to have him use Google Docs on the Chromebook. Well, without an account he can’t use the Google Docs app. I suppose I could make him memorize the Google Docs URL and use it in a non-app fashion, but I feel that convenience should win out in this situation.
Temporary (and a possible permanent!) solution
I sign him in using his mother’s account. It’s not what I feel to be a final solution, but it works and gets him access to what he needs more easily. I suppose I can wait a few years until he is 13 and then just set him up an account and be done with it. But I feel like there are a few compelling reasons (games, kid’s ebooks, playing videos, etc) where it would be nice to have a sort of “kid’s account” whereby the parent could perhaps link it with their own Google account and even set controls for what they are allowed to do. I think this could be a great solution to the issue I’ve run into. Google, thoughts on this?