Google To Target Children With Family-Friendly YouTube And Services
Businesses know they can expand themselves if they expand their audience. However, one audience that is generally neglected by tech companies is children, because of extensive legalities. And that is the very audience Google is moving on to target now.
Granting children access to the Internet can be dangerous because without parental supervision, children are prone to be exposed to inappropriate material. Thus most firms do not allow children official access, which gives them legal ambiguity if kids sign up for Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other services by faking their age. Hence, they are not to be held liable in such cases.
Google plans on adding these new features for the children:
- A children-safe version of YouTube.
- A dashboard so that parents can keep a check on the activities of their children.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) restricts online companies from targeting children under 13 years old, along with getting parental consent. COPPA’s main purpose is to protect children from companies that store their personal information, which can later be used for targeted advertisement.
According to COPPA SEC. 1303:
It is unlawful for an operator of a website or online service directed to children, or any operator that has actual knowledge that it is collecting personal information from a child, to collect personal information from a child…
At the end of the day, all strategies of tech companies are basically the same in purpose: to expand their reach to more users. Many companies are now thinking out of the box where they are not just enhancing their service quality to attract users, but are aiming at making their services accessible to people with no access.
Google’s project Loon focuses on connecting those populations which have no Internet access around the world, by making Wi-Fi available from high-flying balloons. Facebook has similar ambitions with their initiative – Internet.org – which focuses on making Internet affordable enough for everyone to use.
Targeting children may be commonly unheard of, but Google is not the first company to be expanding towards children. Yahoo allows kids to use its services, but only through a family account, which is created after gaining parental consent through a 50-cent credit card charge.
However, while users are required to reveal their age when signing up for Google services, there is no age limitation for Google’s Android. One reason behind this decision is that Google possibly does not want to restrict youngsters from using their services on mobile devices.