While the internet can be pretty helpful for people, it can become a dark place for children if not moderated. So, citing the safety of children who browse the internet mindlessly, we have seen several major tech companies take the necessary steps to protect them from unwanted content on the web. Now, Google has announced to roll out some pretty useful features and tools across its products and services to ensure the safety of under-18 users.
Google’s Plan for Child Safety on the Internet
The Mountain View giant recently published an official blog post, detailing some of the policy changes and new features that it will introduce for minors over the coming days. The company will bring significant changes to various of its products such as Search, YouTube, Assistant, and more.
For starters, Google will introduce a new policy that will enable anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results. Although it won’t remove the images from the web altogether, Google believes that it will give young people more control over their images online.
Now, moving on to the new changes that Google is planning to add to its products and services, you can find the details about them under dedicated headings for each of the products or services.
For YouTube, Google will change the default upload setting to the most private option available for users under 18 years of age. Furthermore, the company will also remove “overly commercial” content and videos from YouTube Kids, Google’s dedicated YouTube platform for minors, that encourage children to spend money. Plus, Google will show digital well-being features more prominently than ever for accounts of under-18 users.
Moreover, Google will also turn on take a break and bedtime reminders and turn off autoplay for users under 18. Plus, on YouTube Kids, the company will add an autoplay option that will be turned off by default. Parents can then turn it on if they deem those features useful for their little ones.
Search and Assistant
Coming to Search, the company promised to further refine the SafeSearch option that prevents mature content on the web to show up for under-13 users. It is turned on by default for minors to safeguard them from adult content on the web. In the coming months, Google will turn SafeSearch on for existing under-18 accounts and make it a default setting for new teen users.
As for Assistant, Google will do the same and turn on SafeSearch for web browsers on smart displays by default to safeguard children while interacting with Google Assistant-powered shared devices.
Location history is one of the settings for Google accounts that allows users to share a timeline of their whereabouts with the company to improve its services. The setting is already turned off by default for all users and for under-13 supervised accounts, Google does not give the option to turn it on. So, to further safeguard minors, the company will not allow under-18 users to turn on the said setting without supervision from a parent or a guardian.
While Google Play stores millions of apps, there are “teacher-approved apps” that are safe for children. Furthermore, in the coming days, Google will add a new safety section to the apps that will let parents know which apps follow Google’s Families policies.
As a result, app developers will need to provide more details about their apps that enable a parent or a guardian to decide it an app from the Play Store is safe for their children or not.
Google Workspace for Education
Google is also adding new administrative options to help educative administrations to provide experiences based on age. This will let administrators restrict student activity on YouTube. Moreover, the company will also integrate the SafeSearch functionality for K-12 institutions to help them provide a safer internet browsing experience for students.
Other than these features, Google is also making changes to its advertising policies to prevent age-sensitive ad categories to show up for teens. Moreover, the company will block ad targeting based on age, gender, and interests of users who are under 18 years of age.
Furthermore, the Mountain View giant will also roll out new Digital Wellbeing filters that will allow parents to block news, podcasts, and certain web pages on Assistant-enabled smart devices.
As for the availability of these new features and tools for ensuring child safety across Google’s ecosystem, the company says that it will roll them out to global users over the coming months. So, if you are a parent or a guardian of a minor, be sure to check out these features when they roll out in the future.