Google has confirmed that it is working on kid-safe versions of some of its most popular products, including YouTube, Chrome and the Google search engine.
Speaking with USA Today, Google VP of Engineering Pavni Diwanji discussed the upcoming child-safe alternatives, which will be aimed at kids aged 12 and younger and are rumoured to be released late next year.
With so many Google employees having children of their own, executives at the company have become motivated to create online services that are safe and fun for kids to use. And unsurprisingly, Diwanji says that encouraging children to become both consumers and creators of tech is high on Google’s agenda.
Diwanji expects the products may drum up controversy, but argues that when children are already accessing technology at home and in schools on a daily basis, it makes sense to come up with a version catered specifically to the under-12 market.
Won't somebody think of the children?
While there’s plenty of options out there for anxious parents, such as parental filters and devices specially designed for children, a completely kid-friendly search engine and YouTube option is likely to be more effective than simply switching on SafeSearch.
What may spark debate is the idea of Google treating children as another means to collect data and revenue. The company will need to comply with the strict regulations set in place by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (US), which aims to prevent companies from collecting info on minors without ‘verifiable’ parental consent.
At this stage, it’s unclear whether the products will simply control the types of media and information children can access, or offer a completely child-focused overhaul of Google services. Diwanji says there are plans to include parental supervision options, but ultimately it’s up to individual parents to decide the level of control they have over their children’s online activities.
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