Photo: Geek Nose/ FlickrCC
Being a parent can feel like a never-ending routine of Good Cop/Bad Cop, and for today’s generation of child rearers, that includes laying down the law on the digital frontier.
Mercifully, there are products out there to help you manage your kids’ digital lives — whether they’re online for a study session, endless YouTube-ing, or toggling back and forth between the two — and as such, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite Google Chrome extensions for parents, based on what kind of help you’re looking for:
For Boosting Their Study Sessions:
You don’t have to keep your eyes glued to a stopwatch to be an effective taskmaster. Nanny lets you set time limits on your kid’s favourite recreational sites, to help them better manage their workloads and maintain focus. You can also restrict access to certain URLs altogether.
Once you’ve battened down the hatches on the nauseating gallows of the internet, what’s left can be a fount of education and inspiration for your kid. Liner is an excellent study tool that allows kids to highlight (and annotate) text on web pages and PDFs, even on mobile devices. Better still, it compiles the highlighted passages for later review, an essential for essays.
While we’re on the subject of words, if you’re a strict grammarian, Grammarly is the best extension to encourage good spelling and grammar habits wherever your kid writes on the web. You can toggle monitoring off for specific websites if you want to concede Twitter from your syntactical supervision.
Using Google Translate’s open API, ImTranslator translates passages of foreign language via a popup bubble or directly in line with the text. It also boasts a dictionary to define new words.
For Protecting Their Privacy — and Blocking Unwanted Content
In contrast to Nanny, which is designed more for time management and specific site blocking, WebFilter Pro lets parents weed out entire swaths of objectionable sites using keyword-based categories, which saves you from scouring the disturbing depths of insane fetish porn to find URLs to ban.
Despite its abrasive sounding name, F Off is an extension that blocks profane language on webpages with asterisks. You can also customise the words that are acceptable, which is helpful if you regard certain cuss words as a gradual inevitability.
Advertisers will stop at nothing to trace behavioural patterns, and that includes your kid’s.
Ghostery detects and blocks common tracking devices like pixels, bugs and beacons, putting your mind at ease and boosting page load times.
For Entertainment in Their Down Time:
When the school week is finished, you can’t expect kids to watch Saturday morning cartoons in front of that ancient Plasma screen. They need distractions from their distractions! The Online TV extension lets them tune in to and save TV channels from all over the world, right from the comforts of their browser.
If you’re feeling generous enough to hand over your credit card (as if your kid doesn’t already have the number memorised) for an online shopping spree, install Honey first. It seeks out coupon codes from all over the web and automatically applies them, saving you money at checkout, whether or not it’s you doing the shopping.
Soapbox is a simplified video recording and editing tool, which can be great for kids who are interested in vlogging or preparing video essays for college acceptance applications (shoutout Elle Woods). It can record webcam and screen activity simultaneously and edit them in split-screen, making it easy to show off beating a super-difficult video game boss, or precocious coding mastery.
Fortunately, your children don’t live in a world where they have to risk infecting your computer by downloading the latest hits from KaZaA. If they use Google Play Music for streaming, this extension gives them a mini player with controls that let them navigate playlists without interrupting browsing. It also features quick links to lyrics (where was this when we needed a new AIM Away Message?)
Even online, there is no escape. Give in, Good Cop.