Pop Culture

Google Cares More About Making Money Off Your Kid Than Keeping Him Safe

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Google accounts for kidsParents of children under 13 be alert – Google is coming, and it wants your children to buy all of the things. There’s a rumor afoot that Google is currently working on providing some of it’s services, like Gmail and YouTube, to children under the age of 13. Finally, your 8-year-old can email their friends and share YouTube videos of animals vomiting, or whatever kids that age are into. 

Currently, Google only offers accounts to users over the age of thirteen through the fool-proof security method of having the user enter in his or her own birthdate. Not that this isn’t effective, but I’m guessing there are a whole bunch of accounts owned by Mark McFartface, a 105-year-old man from Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Did I mention that Google cannot be held liable if a child lies about their age when opening an account? So, there’s that.

But now Google wants to legally tap into the tween market because oh my God money. There are going to be a lot of headaches for them in order to make sure that they comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection act (COPPA), which states that websites must have parental permission before collecting and storing data from children under the age of thirteen. Google is willing to deal with those headaches, however, in order to tap into the enormous growth that would come with getting the wee one generation Google accounts early on. Google is also hoping to get into the educational market and have schools use Google Chromebooks as an alternative to IPads. If children already had Google accounts set up, it would help make a case for their use.

So what specifically is Google working on? According to The Information:

The contemplated features include a dashboard for parents to oversee their kids’ activities, a child-safe version of YouTube and requiring people who sign up for a Google account on devices powered by Google’s Android software to share their age. Google requires people to share their age when they sign up for Google services on personal computers. 

Internet privacy experts, who I suspect are referred to at Google as “the fun police,” have grave concerns. As Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy told The Wall Street Journal, “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.”

Guess that conversation about internet safety and responsibility is going to have to happen with kids who are still learning to tie their own shoelaces. But it’ll be easy, right? Because no one makes well-thought out decisions like a first-grader. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go destroy my hard drive.

(photo: Gladskikh Tatiana / Shutterstock)