Google is working on versions of its services, such as YouTube and Gmail, that are specifically aimed at children.
The increasingly digital world we live in has changed the way that young people communicate. These days, youngsters know how to use an ipad (or rack up a huge bill for tablet gaming) before they know how to write. They talk text lingo better than they speak English. They speak to their friends more on social media than they do in real life. As well as the new revenue opportunities this presents, there are concerns about young people’s safety with recent high profile online child grooming cases showing the risks of the world wide web. So Google – ever one to stay ahead of the curve – are starting to think about how they better engage and profit from young users in a safe way.
Google+ to add kid pages
Google has been trying to take away market share in the social media world for years now but when it comes to traffic, Google+ is still miles behind Facebook and Twitter. As it stands right now, children under the age of 13 are not allowed to sign up for Google+ according to the terms of service provided by Google which emanate from international legal restrictions to help keep children safe.
What is the problem then?
Living in such a digital and social media range, children understandably want in on the action too. Facebook recently closed heaps of accounts of supposedly over 13 year olds who were in fact not yet 13. The only way Google and other internet giants can try and protect children and stay the right side of the law is by asking for a user’s date of birth and other details at sign up. But this clearly isn’t fool (or child) proof.
So Google have decided to work on versions of its services such as Gmail and YouTube for children only in response to the obvious demand from youngsters; parents too who want their children to socialize online in age appropriate forums; safety concerns; and let’s naively not forget the huge potential un-tapped revenue capacity from online marketing as well as Google seeing an opportunity for their low cost Chromebook laptops to compete with ipads as a learning tool in schools (which is currently very difficult when the Chromebook is entirely based on Google services which under 13s cannot yet access).
Do you think its a good idea to have children specific online services and social media forums? Or do you think children will still want to use the adult versions? How will children prove they are indeed children to set up an account – will children specific services just be a dangerous playground for child molesters?