Google is making changes to create a safer space for kids and teens on the internet, with a list of new features and tools.
Over the past year, parents and kids alike were moving toward virtual workspaces, creating a heavier reliance on the internet in their everyday lives. As a result, parents, educators, policymakers and privacy experts have expressed concern about creating a safe environment for adolescents.
Google will be expanding safeguards to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens. Ads will be blocked based on the age, gender, and interests of people under 18. These changes will begin to roll out globally over the coming months with the goal of ensuring that they are delivering age-appropriate experiences for ads.
Giving Minors Control Over their Digital Footprint
Google offers removal options for folks using Google Search but recognizes that children are at particular risk when it comes to controlling their imagery on the internet.
Google is planning to introduce a new policy that allows anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google image results. Removing it from the SERP will not remove it from the web but will decrease exposure.
Improving the Web Experience for Kids & Teens
YouTube Upload Settings
The upload setting for teens on YouTube will default to the most private option. Google will also provide additional safeguards and education about commercial content.
As part of this change, YouTube will begin to remove overly commercial content – content that encourages kids to spend money, from YouTube Kids. YouTube gives the example of content that focuses on product packaging.
YouTube is also updating the disclosures that appear on supervised accounts and “made for kids” content to be very clear when a video contains paid promotions.
YouTube is also taking a break from bedtime reminders and autoplay for users under 18. An autoplay option will be added to YouTube Kids – though it will be turned off by default – to give parents the ability to decide what is right for their families.
Location History Updates
Location history is off by default and children with supervised accounts don’t have the option to turn it on. This will soon be extended to all users under the age of 18 globally, meaning that location history will remain off for all adolescents.
Google Play Updates
Google is launching a new safety section, which will let parents know which apps follow the family policies. Apps will be required to disclose how they use the data they collect, making it easier for parents to decide if an app is right for their child before they download or use it.
Google Workspace for Education Changes
With children using the internet for schoolwork, there have been concerns about safeguarding that experience. Google has been working to improve administrators’ ability to tailor experiences for their users, such as restricting student activity on YouTube, and enabling SafeSearch technology by default for all users.
Google has settings in place to help prevent folks from seeing mature content that they haven’t searched for. SafeSearch filters out explicit results when enabled and is already on by default for signed-in users under 13 who have accounts managed by Family Link. In the coming months, Google plans to extend this technology for users under 18.
Google Assistant Updates
Google is planning to introduce new default protections to prevent mature content from surfacing for a child.