Google is preparing to officially offer its services to children under age 13, according to a couple of reports. This could boost growth, and therefore sales, for the Internet giant, but it could also bring a whole new set of headaches because of rules about the collection of information about kids.
The news comes after earlier reports that Google-owned YouTube is working on an offering for kids as the video site chases revenue growth. Kids may also get a chance to officially create Gmail accounts. We keep saying “officially” because you know your kids somehow already have their own email accounts. In fact, the Wall Street Journal says Google is working on this partly because of demand from parents who want to set up accounts for their children.
Google’s plans include a dashboard that parents can use to control their children’s accounts and settings, according to the Information, which says the company’s efforts are “ongoing” but that it’s not clear when such services would be launched.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) limits the amount of personally identifiable information that websites can collect about kids, especially without parental permission. Companies such as Sony Music, Hershey Foods and Path have gotten in trouble with and been fined by the Federal Trade Commission over COPPA violations, according to the Information. Companies such as Google and Facebook — which as we know collects boatloads of information from their existing users — have avoided the complications so far by officially banning the use of their services by kids under 13.
But like Google, Facebook also seems to want to get kids aboard. The social networking company has applied for a patent for verifying parents’ consent for children under 13, our own Brandon Bailey wrote in June.
Photo from AFP/Getty Images