Google plans child-friendly YouTube and Chrome browser

05/12/2014

Google is developing child-friendly versions of its search site, Chrome browser and video-sharing service YouTube, according to a US report.

See the full USA Today interview below:


Pavni Diwanji, Google's vice-president of engineering who is heading the project, revealed the plans in an interview with USA Today.

Diwanji said the company was aiming to make modified versions designed for children aged up to 12.

Google has not said when the child-friendly products will be released.

“The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children,” said VP of engineering Pavni Diwanji. “We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products.”

As an example, she said a child searching for "trains" on a modified version of Google's search page might get back information about Thomas the Tank Engine rather than links to timetables and ticket-booking sites.

The products will also feature tools that let parents monitor and manage how much time their offspring spend online and where they go.

This comes after YouTube recruited a dedicated head of family entertainment this year, with first reports of a child-friendly version emerging in March.

Google's has already launched a number of online products aimed at children, including its virtual Maker Camp, a Doodle 4 Google competition for young people and its Made with Code initiative.

In the US, one of the biggest considerations when designing online products and services for kids is the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.

The act dictates how information can be collected from and presented to kids under the age of 13—changes to the law effective in July of 2013 include multiple stipulations related to privacy policies, parental oversight, and security requirements for data collected from young children. Heavy fines have been levied on firms that flout Coppa.

Yelp was fined $450,000 earlier this year for violations. The directory hadn't included the same age-screening on its mobile app that it used on its website. Both forms of registration ask for a user's birth date. But while the website would shut down the registration process if a user said they were under 13, both the Android and iOS versions of the Yelp app went ahead and allowed the child to register an account. The mistake meant that Yelp had a small number of users under 13, who were able to do things like post reviews, check in at local businesses, and share their location data with Yelp.

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