Dealing with Age Restrictions

Feb 19, 2014 by

I received a great question from a reader in a district that is deploying one-to-one devices in elementary and middle grades.  There are many apps and programs out there for education and some of them specify that account holders need to be over 13 so they asked for suggestions on how to handle age restrictions.  The recommendations vary slightly depending on the devices in use, the apps, and the district infrastructure.

Google Users

A primary consideration is whether or not these devices are being used with a Google Apps for Education domain or not.  If there is a Google Apps for Education domain in place, leaders can create a walled garden for email use which is often the trigger for the 13 and under restriction policies because of the potential danger with students using the account for external communication.  There are two potential solutions in this scenario.  The first is to create the google email accounts for all students and use them to create the “app accounts” for applications like Evernote that require email but after account set up is complete, turn off gmail.  The second is to use the GAFE domain settings to restrict email send/receive to a specific class, school, grade, etc. depending on how the organizational units inside their domain are set up.   Also, Google does have an email consent form that they can use or modify.

I also recommend that teachers create some kind of parent notification explaining the programs and applications they intend to use and their instructional goals. This can be a a letter home, a post on a web site, or the topic of a parent night.  Teachers may want to create a document signs, indicating that they have received the information.  In most cases, this is sufficient for following the rules on the apps.  It is also a good idea to revise any acceptable or responsible use forms to include language about email and application instructional use as well as digital citizenship language and training.

Non-Google Schools

If the district is not using Google Apps for Education then setting up classroom accounts or substituting programs and applications that don’t require log-ins would be my suggestion.

No Sign-In Resources

If the above isn’t an option and classroom accounts seem too messy, below is a great list of resources from Nathan Hall.  The tools listed here do not require a sign in.

Please continue sending in great questions!

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3 Comments

  1. I teach 8th grade, so the 13-year-old rule is often a problem for my students. We are a Google apps district, and our tech person at the district told us that he can “white list” specific email domains. So he has opened up the email addresses of specific sites that I want my students to be able to use, such as nanowrimo.org, wevideo.com, weebly.com, etc. That means my students are able to receive emails from those sites, which they need in order to have accounts on them, but other email domains are still not open to my students. So far it has worked well!

    • Thank you, Laura. You do some amazing things in the classroom too- so I am happy that your kids are able to use the tools you promote.

  2. Our district has been using google drive for two years now. All students have an email account, however they are not able to use the email feature. All of their work can be shared with their teachers via the teacher’s email address. In addition, if students are working on a group project they can share with each other to work on it together. We have the message feature turned off. Students may use their accounts from elementary through high school. It has been a great success and we no longer have to worry about office products.

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