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Google To Launch Child Friendly Versions Of YouTube, Chrome

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Google is planning to launch child friendly versions of its search engine, YouTube and Chrome browser sometime in 2015. In an interview given to the newspaper USA Today, Google’s vice president for Engineering, Pavni Diwanji, confirmed the development and mentioned that the search giant has been working on kid friendly versions of some of its most popular products for quite some time. The new lineup of products will be tailor made for kids below 13 years of age and would encourage them to be creators and not just pure consumers of technology. With its latest move, Google is following the example of Apple which introduced the Family Sharing feature in its iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite operating systems and allowed kids to buy and download apps under the supervision of their parents.

Google’s move of introducing child friendly products is designed to make the World Wide Web a safer place for kids. While many online service providers have introduced age restriction and other measures to protect children from violent and adult content, Google is often accused of not doing enough to shield kids from inappropriate or offensive information. In fact, it can be argued that Google acts as a facilitator and exposes impressionable minds to dangerous and adult content due to its unique position as the leading search provider as well as video portal. By introducing kid friendly version of its search engine and YouTube, Google wants to reassure parents and child activist groups that it has the best interests of children in mind and it is doing all it can to protect kids from adult and inappropriate content that is floating on the internet.

Google’s initiative is also expected to provide more meaningful search results and content to the children. For instance, when kids search for “trains” through kid friendly Google search engine or Chrome browser, they would be presented with information related to Thomas the Tank Engine instead of links to travel sites that show time tables of trains and offer ticket booking facilities. As far as safety measures go, the new products would be significantly better than the “safe search” add-ons and plugins that are currently available for browsers. The kid friendly products would also allow parents to monitor the internet usage of their children and determine how much time they are spending on the web.

While introducing these products, Google will have to tread carefully due to the limitations imposed by Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The Act, which became a law in 2013, has issued clear guidelines on how to collect personal data from children as well as present information to them. The Act also stipulates that online service providers must take consent from parents before collecting personal data from children who are under the age of 13. Additionally, COPPA includes several clauses related to parental oversight, security of data and information that must be included within the privacy policy. Service providers violating the Act could face huge fines so Google would want to ensure that its child friendly products comply with the Act.

January 26, 2015

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