As a parent, we often struggle with the use of technology and our children. What content are they viewing? How much time are they spending on their devices? Are they safe while using that fancy new iPad they received from Grandma? These are some of the questions that go through our heads when we cannot hear our kids “playing.” We have all been there, the house goes quiet, and you know they are either up to no good or they are plugged into a device.
Over the years, Congress has been trying to get companies like Google, Facebook, and Instagram to regulate content viewable to minors. In response, Google launched new safeguards across all their platforms earlier this year to do just that. This article will be going over some of these updates.
Google Search has become our best friend and digital encyclopedia. Although it is great as an adult, it can be scary to think our children can find the same info we are able to access.
New Google Safeguards
- As a minor or parental guardian, you can now request the removal of all of the minor’s images from the Google Image Search results. This mirrors “Right to Be Forgotten” policies many European countries already have in place.
- Location history is already off by default on all Google accounts, but children with supervised accounts now won’t be able to enable it. This change will be extended to all users under 18 globally, meaning location can’t be enabled at all until the children are legal adults.
- In addition to these changes, Google will restrict access to adult content by enabling its SafeSearch filtering technology by default to all users under 13 managed by its Google Family Link service. It will also enable SafeSearch for all users under 18 and make this the new default for teens who set up new accounts. Google Assistant will also enable SafeSearch protections by default on shared devices like smart screens and their web browsers.
YouTube, owned by Google, has also announced similar policies which will help put parents at ease when allowing their children to use the platform.
New YouTube Safeguards
- The first big change will come to the default upload setting. For those 13-17, the default upload setting will be set to the most private option which will limit the visibility of videos to only the users with whom they directly share content. However, the option will still be available to reverse this default setting to allow public access.
- “Take a break” and bedtime reminders will also be set to default for the same age group.
- Autoplay will be turned off as an option. This will help mitigate countless hours spent watching a constant video stream. The option to change this feature is available in the parental controls.
- Another change is the removal of “overly commercial content” from the YouTube Kids app. This change will most likely have a trickle-down effect to some content makers. “Unboxing” videos and product review content creators will see the pinch of this new policy. YouTube says it will “remove content which entices viewers to buy a certain product or the excessive consumption of products.”
Advertisers will see changes as well when using these platforms. Google will expand safeguards to prevent certain categories from being shown ads based on age, gender and interests for those under 18.
With all this being said, parents can now rejoice in a safer online experience for their children, while advertisers will have to navigate some “minor” hurdles (pun intended) within their campaigns.