December 8, 2014
Google has confirmed that it plans to develop kid-friendly versions of some of its more popular products next year. While Google has yet to release specific details about the initiative, many predict that Chrome and YouTube will be among those products redesigned for children 12 and younger. Google understands that kids are among those most active on the Internet, so it hopes to create Web-related products and services that are deemed appropriate for their use.
“We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products,” said Pavni Diwanji, VP of engineering and the executive at the helm of Google’s new initiative. “We want kids to be safe, but ultimately it’s about helping them be more than just pure consumers of tech, but creators, too.”
There are restrictions designed to prevent overexposure of ads and targeted marketing to kids. According to USA Today, the Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act has instituted fines to penalize those companies that have abused the privacy and vulnerability of children using the Internet.
“The prospect of audio-based advertising targeting our children is very real, and that’s significant when you’re talking about an age group that is very susceptible to manipulation,” said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The FTC will have to step up on this. I don’t think we want a world where our kids are sold things they don’t need.”
And while Google recognizes these concerns, the company hopes its upcoming products will serve as tools for parents to give their children independence.
“We want to enable supervision but not be regimental,” Diwanji noted. These products will be built to empower youth and bring piece of mind to parents.