The Internet is a wonderful place overflowing with information and different kinds of content. It also has its seedier sides; places where you wouldn't want your children stumbling into. Parental controls can only do so much, and while the burden ultimately falls on mom and pop to protect their kids from the web's back alleys, Google is taking it upon itself to give them a hand. Beginning next year, the search giant will roll out kid-specific versions of its services for the 12-year-old and under crowd.
There's no specific timetable for this just yet, though Google's execs say this is a full-time project. It follows closely behind Google's other kid-friendly efforts, like it virtual Maker Camp, Doodle 4 Google competition, and other events.
"The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there's a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children," Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering who's in charge of the project, told USA Today.
Diwanji is a mother of two, and though she expects this to be a controversial move on Google's part, she feels it's better to approach the younger crowd with appropriate technology than to act like they don't exist and/or try to shield them from the web as a whole.
You can bet the FTC will be watching Google closely on this one, as will certain organizations.
"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," says Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "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."
Stay tuned, this could get interesting.