Google has reported that it plans to refine its search for children next year, creating specific versions of its products such as YouTube and Chrome. Google won’t offer a specific timetable but they did say that it’s going to be a fulltime effort.
Certainly, this idea will not come without controversy. Will Google to mining younger user information without parental consent? Will Google be helping young children, who don’t necessarily belong online, to become more tech savvy and to find information they don’t need to have more easily?
As Marc Rotenberg, president of the watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center said, “The prospect of audio-based advertising targeting our children is very real, and that’s significant when you’re talking about an age group that is very susceptible to manipulation. The FTC will have to step up on this. I don’t think we want a world where our kids are sold things they don’t need.”
Pavni Diwanji, VP of engineering at Google, who is in charge of leading Google’s upcoming initiative to make things more kid-friendly, said, “We want to enable supervision but not be regimental. But that’s challenging because no two parents are alike. I have friends who are helicopter parents and others are even more liberal than me, but everyone has to be accommodated by whatever we create.”
She continued, “This is perhaps one of my greatest challenges. We want to lay the foundation right, and then make sure every single part of Google is great for kids. They are the future, so why not give them the tools to let them create it.”