The internet can be a worrying place for parents; and with the advancement of touch-screen technology, smart phones and tablets, children are now becoming adept at searching for things online from an increasingly young age.
It may come as welcome news to many, then, that Google has recently announced plans to renovate its services so that children are able to use them more safely, an article on IT Pro Portal reports. Although this decision might be viewed by cynics as Google simply targeting a key audience – getting them on side in their early years – it is undeniable that the search engine giant has become a huge part of our daily lives – and that it has most certainly become the norm for Generation Z.
The current age limit for creating a Google account is 13 years old, but the new updates will allow users much younger than this to access certain services. One feature will include a dashboard so that parents can see what their children have been viewing. There are also rumours of a child-friendly version of Youtube, with inappropriate videos being blocked so that children under the age of 10 can search for content safely, although Google has not yet confirmed this feature.
As Google plans to move into the education market, tailoring their services for the use of children is an increasingly necessary process. However, this is of course a highly sensitive area, and experts have expressed some concern about the news:
“Unless Google does this right it will threaten the privacy of millions of children and deny parents the ability to make meaningful decisions about who can collect information on their kids,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Centre for Digital Democracy, an online privacy group.
In the meantime, there are a number of parental control features that you can make use of to prevent children from accessing unsuitable online content. Many modems have these options so that you can set limitations on any device that’s connected to your broadband network. In addition to this, you can set safety mode settings on search engines, social networking sites and video sharing sites such as YouTube.
And don’t forget about other connected devices, such as mobile phones and gaming consoles; these will also offer the ability to control content. It is also essential to talk to your children – in as much depth as you feel is appropriate for their age – about the dangers of using the internet, and encourage them to be honest if they have any concerns while browsing online, using chat rooms or speaking with their friends.