Children may soon enjoy the privileges of owning a Google account. According to well-placed sources, the giant technology firm is currently developing versions of Gmail (its free Web service) and YouTube (its popular video sharing site) that would specifically cater to younger users.
If this pushes through, Google would be able to allow children 13 years old and younger to have their own accounts for the first time. However, if kids are raving, how about their parents?
Presently, kids aged below 13 years old are banned from signing up for an account on Gmail and/or YouTube. This is a logical move since the company is required to abide by the law, specifically the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, which is strictly imposed in the US.
That policy sets stringent limitations on how data about those children should be collected for advertising purposes. During the registration process when signing up for a Google account, children who are aged less than 13 years old are automatically redirected to a Web page that advices them not to push through because they are not allowed to go on unless they meet the right age requirement.
To many observers, this is a good measure to protect children online. But many skeptics logically raise concerns that some children may figure out pretending to be adults so they could possibly create a Google account.
Greater parental control
In the new system that is reportedly being developed by the company, parents would be required to set up Google accounts for their kids. Thus, they would be given controls on how they would want their children to use various Google services. They could only set limitations on what types and how much information could be collected by advertisers about their youngsters, still in compliance with COPPA.
Furthermore, reports indicate that the new system would also roll out a special dashboard to enable parents to oversee their children’s online activities every now and then. According to sources, the company is almost done working on the more wholesome and kid-safer version of video-sharing site YouTube.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated the Act in 2012 to make it more adoptable to the digital age. Thus, it now mandates information collection from children through Websites, third-party networks, and apps. The last update before this was in 1998.