Google is working on kid-friendly versions of its products like browser Chrome and YouTube that will be directly tailored to children under the age of 13. The new products will reach users sometime in 2015.
Google hasn’t specified how these products will work, but it seems the changes it will affect the type of content that comes up when a child enters a subject in the search field.
"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," Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering charged with leading the new initiative, told USA Today on Wednesday. The changes will help children “be more than just pure consumers of tech, but creators, too," she said.
"We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home," Diwanji, a mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 13, added. "So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way."
Diwanji was adamant that parents will continue to have power over the content their children see.
“We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids' use of our products," she said.
Despite Google’s assurances, targeting children under 13 may bring a slew of problems. The Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act has doled out fines against 20 companies in its 15-year history for mining information about young users without the consent of parents. Earlier this year, Yelp was fined more than $400,000 for attempting to implement a functional age screen on its popular app.
"One of the great things about technology is that we should be able to create safe places for kids," said Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the FTC's privacy and identity protection division. "We don't want to stifle that as long as parents are in the driver's seat."