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Internet Culture / By Lauren Keating / August 19, 12:00 PM

Google plans to target kids with its new services

Google plans on expanding its market by creating new account services specifically for children under 13. 

Kids will be able to create their own accounts using Google services like YouTube and Gmail. And Google's new system will allow parents oversee what information search giants collect about their children. 

Currently, Google requires new users to enter their birthday when signing up to become a user. Google services are intended for those 13 and older because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which restricts how the children's data is used. Parents need to give consent before any data on their child is used or stored for advertising.

Those who do not meet the at least 13-years-old age requirement are directed to Google's policy and the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) child privacy page. Of course, users younger than 13 can still create accounts using a fake birthday since web sites are not liable if fake ages are used. Hopefully, this new service will prevent the use of fake birthdays and ensure that childrens' privacy is being monitored by an adult. 

Additinally, kid-friendly accounts would allow Google to go after the education market. As technology continues to be introduced in classrooms, Google's Chromebooks can be used as a low-cost alternative to the iPad. Chromebooks completely use Google services. Allowing kids to create their own accounts and adding a kid-friendly suite of Google apps would make the Chromebook a potential classroom tech tool.

Google's kid accounts will include a child search safe version of YouTube that Google began developing earlier this year.  

Though Google's kid safe search services may make parents happy, but experts are worried about privacy.

"Unless Google does this right it will threaten the privacy of millions of children and deny parents the ability to make meaningful decisions about who can collect information on their kids," says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group. 

Chester says that The Center for Digital Democracy is creating a plan that would ensure parents have enough control regarding their kid's privacy.

The privacy advocates voiced their concerns with the FTC, which enforced COPPA rules.

 

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