Google’s new features to protect children

Awareness is growing among tech bigwigs about the possible obstacles to growth posed by the internet and smartphones: here's how Google intends to move

Google wants to give minors themselves or their parents more control over their "digital lives," from the most popular apps in the ecosystem to Google search via the Google Play Store app store.

Unfortunately, for some time now, tech giants have been taking an increasingly protective attitude towards those who are most vulnerable online: one of the last big tech companies to make a move was Instagram, which not even two weeks ago announced a series of measures to protect minors. Now it's Google's turn, which unlike the photo social manages an entire ecosystem, so it has had more difficulty in moving quickly. But eventually it arrived, announcing the possibility for anyone under 18 years of age or for his parents to request the removal of an image from Google Images, or from Google search results. It won't be the same as removing it from the web, but it's certainly a way to give it less visibility.

YouTube and Google search

As we were saying, a bit of all the apps in the Google ecosystem are moving in the direction of greater protection for minors. YouTube, for example, will change the settings for posting videos to the most stringent privacy settings available by default.

But that's not all: YouTube will keep automatic video playback disabled by default in an attempt to prevent a minor from viewing unwanted content, while reminders to take breaks between videos and alerts about the correct time to go to bed will be enabled by default.

Google is planning to use the SafeSearch filter extensively: it's already active by default for accounts under 13 years old managed through Family Link, but Google wants to raise the age to 18 and keep it active by default for teenagers who create a new account; this way they want to avoid that younger people end up getting search results that are not appropriate for their age.

The Play Store will soon be more precise about privacy

The Google's measures also include Location History, disabled by default on all accounts. At Mountain View, they want to make it impossible for anyone under 18 to activate Location History.

New things are on the horizon for the Play Store as well: a new section will arrive on the app store where parents will be able to know which apps meet child protection policies, and then what data they collect and how they use it, so that each parent can make an informed choice about whether to allow their child to download the app.

Here's the accompanying note from Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google: "We are constantly engaging with parents, institutions, industry leaders and privacy experts to design better products that are better suited to increasing children's safety, well-being and awareness."