Reports say that Google is planning to offer special accounts for users under the age of 13. Right now, pre-teens aren’t supposed to be able to open YouTube or Gmail accounts, but lots of them do by lying about their age, just as many youngsters under 13 sign up for Facebook accounts. Sometimes they sneak, other times they do it with their parents’ full knowledge.
Google is trying to come up with a special account that parents would set up for kids. That would leave the adults in charge of which Google products kids can partake of.
Those who worry about privacy wonder what this means for kids’ information, though the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act limits what type of information companies can collect about kids. Companies cannot collect any information on kids without their parents’ permission. But there are worries that people will just accept the terms of services for these accounts without reading what types of permissions come along with them.
It’s expected that the account would have a dashboard that allowed parents to keep control of their activities and include a kid-friendly version of YouTube, limited to programming suitable for kids, as well as a kid-safe search engine.
Amazon currently offers a Kindle FreeTime subscription service with books, movies and games aimed at kids. But that costs $5 a month or $3 if you already subscribe to Amazon Prime.
The advantage to Google would be getting kids into their ecosystem at a young age and parents might find it convenient to be able to sync their Google calendars with those of their children. As kids start using tech at a younger age with every passing year, coming up with safe ways for them to use devices like tablets and smartphones will be a priority for companies like Google.