'Google for kids' reportedly in the works

Under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, site owners must take special and often time-consuming precautions when dealing with users under the age of 13. As such, most mainstream websites have adopted a sweeping ban on all minors under the age of 13, barring access (at least in theory) to young children. But Google may soon seek to crush this policy, as their initiative to deploy a "child safe" version of Google services for kids -- including a custom dashboard for parents, and special, semi-restricted user accounts on services like YouTube and Gmail -- has been hinted at today by several sources.

The only protection against children 13 and under signing up for restricted services is a confirmation page or a checkbox asking them to confirm whether they're actually over the age of 13. But as anyone who had internet access as a child knows, this is easily bypassed, allowing kids to search potentially dubious content on the web. Google's rumored new initiative may eliminate this entirely by placing access directly in the hands of parents, who can control and access their childrens' viewing and browsing habits on services like YouTube via a custom dashboard.

There's no word on whether privacy settings will be modifiable, but there will likely be some sort of baseline for content when signing up for a "child safe" Google account -- banning explicit videos and search terms, and allowing parents to see if their child attempts to access them. Google's best bet in this instance will be allowing parents to choose custom settings for their children based on what they do and don't want them to see when browsing the internet.

The potential change may also affect "regular" users by requiring every Android user to disclose their age when signing up for Google services on their device. This policy has already been in affect for some services, but the rumored "child safe" mode would apparently roll it out to every single service. 

Google hasn't commented on the reports yet, but if a child-safe version is in the works, it's sure to be deployed very soon.

Source: The Information via MashableImage via Lookout.com

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22 Comments

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Sounds like a good idea. Microsoft already does some of this with their Microsoft Accounts and Windows, so good to see that Google are also going to start implementing something like this also.

i wonder how many would change their tune if Microsoft announces that they would doing the same thing in near future?

Considering you already made a sarcastic comment above...

Are people not already aware of Microsoft Live! accounts for kids? (I think they have a different name now though)

Yeah Microsoft have been doing this for years already. Not that it matters, really. Not sure if they have a special name for it, I think it's just a regular Microsoft Account that you can tie to a "master" account and therefore restrict various privileges via that "master" account.

...Or you can forgo Google's subtle tracking method:

Have your computer in a public area in your home, and actually be a parent while your young kids are online. Mom and Dad need to actually think and pay attention to their children's internet usage. Not rocket science, and it is not difficult to implement some basic rules in your household.

- Educate your kids about proper use of the internet
- Talk about some of the dangers of the internet (age appropriate, of course)
- Your younger kids need to ask permission before going online
- Remind your kids that you know where they have been, and that you monitor their usage
- Make it easy for your kids to get to sites that you approve of and that they use most often
- Use the internet with your kids when looking for new things
- Put down your friggin' smartphone and be an engaged parent with your kids

Google is not, nor will it ever be your mom.

The best part of all is that all of the above measures are free!

Edited by burritodave, Aug 19 2014, 6:17am :

burritodave said,
...Or you can forgo Google's subtle tracking method:

Have your computer in a public area in your home, and actually be a parent while your young kids are online. Mom and Dad need to actually think and pay attention to their children's internet usage.

Actual parenting? That's crazy talk!

DConnell said,

Actual parenting? That's crazy talk!

I know, right? It is harder than you think for some parents that I see to actually pay attention to their kids. They are a little too involved on Candy Crush or Facebook to notice that life is happening right in front of them with their kids.

BUT...more and more kids are getting mobile devices and sadly those are a little tougher to control. My five year old twins each have a Nabi and they watch appropriate YouTube videos for their age but all it takes is one click and they're watching videos that they shouldn't be watching.

I think I'm a vigilante parent but it would be extremely helpful if I could configure YouTube to only show videos for channels I've allowed/subscribed to.

burritodave said,

- Educate your kids about proper use of the internet
- Talk about some of the dangers of the internet (age appropriate, of course)
- Your younger kids need to ask permission before going online
- Remind your kids that you know where they have been, and that you monitor their usage
- Make it easy for your kids to get to sites that you approve of and that they use most often
- Use the internet with your kids when looking for new things
- Put down your friggin' smartphone and be an engaged parent with your kids

Google is not, nor will it ever be your mom.

The best part of all is that all of the above measures are free!

In a perfect world this would be sufficient but we don't live in a perfect world.

It's not about Google being a parent; but a tool that a parent can use for piece of mind.

Well, I'm not sure this is going to give Google any more information than what they already can acquire.

Google's rumored new initiative may eliminate this entirely by placing access directly in the hands of parents, who can control and access their childrens' viewing and browsing habits on services like YouTube via a custom dashboard.

It seems that this wouldn't be terribly effective unless the child were locked into the Google ecosystem by their parents. Would this simply result in a generation of children who went with Bing and Outlook to escape the influence of their parents?

Google's best bet in this instance will be allowing parents to choose custom settings for their children based on what they do and don't want them to see when browsing the internet.

I'm wondering how far Google would be willing to take this. Add functionality that allows parents to block searches by any keyword or result content? Well, I guess I find the thought of overbearing parents empowered by this (potential) feature to be unsettling.

zhangm said,
Well, I guess I find the thought of overbearing parents empowered by this (potential) feature to be unsettling.

It's our jobs to be overbearing and empowered. If we weren't we wouldn't be parents; we'd be friends or roommates.

As parents; it's our job to decide what's best for our kids.

Sell your privacy to corporate Big Brother for some convenience, and bring the kiddies along! What could go wrong? Google now knows almost everything about everyone, and will soon be able to see your whereabouts, by one of the most powerful surveillance satellites.

http://news.yahoo.com/google-n...le-zoom-face-182019291.html

Google is probably the most potentially dangerous company on the planet, able to usurp the liberties of huge swaths of people in an instant. No company should be allowed to be in such a position. Companies or government entities, should never be allowed to have such overreaching knowledge of people. There needs to be compartmentalization of knowledge of people by companies - just as there is with government agencies. Google needs to be either broken up, or have imposed on it, stringent limits on what it can know about people. This is becoming way, way too dangerous!

Patmore Douglas said,
Google needs to be either broken up, or have imposed on it, stringent limits on what it can know about people. This is becoming way, way too dangerous!
and who do you propose is responsible for this? The Government? :)

Svggarden said,
Big brother is watching your kids. Subliminal injecting your kids with "hey kids, tell your parents to buy these".

Must buy more mouse stuff......