With the internet being not only a normal part of our lives these days, but a pretty compulsory thing in education, work and even entertainment, we slowly move into an age where all information you would ever need will be found on the World Wide Web. With that in mind and the transparency that comes with it, names such as the internet giant, Google, have to start considering the dangers this poses to young generations.
Google has recently announced a plan for future development of their products that focuses on children and their safety when browsing the internet. Aside from pornography and other forms of detrimental content for children, the company’s engineering department vice-president, Pavni Diwanji, believes that technology could be used in more efficient ways for kids’ education and development by simply introducing an easier way for them to use it.
Considering access to computers and the internet is present in schools and at home, Google is considering a revamp of their own projects such as the Google Search, Youtube and maybe even Google Chrome, to integrate a “safe for children” version which would personalize their services to fit kids and their interests. For example, a very young child doing a google search for “trains” expecting to find pictures or cartoons of Thomas the Tank Engine will return a list of train schedules or train ticket booking or images of different models of real engines.
Another concern related to children browsing the internet freely and without a method for their parents to protect them is the lack of safe-locks on social media websites. Studies reveal that although Facebook and similar services formally do not allow people under the age of 13 to access and use their platforms, there is a surprising amount of children under 12 using them on a daily basis. The measures these websites take to prevent underage usage of their services are trivial and easy to bypass – naturally, if such young people manage to sneak their way in in no time.
Google has not made any official announcement in regards to when this project will be launched, although there are rumors of development starting in 2015. This is not the first time this initiative has been hinted at however. Earlier this year, there was mention of Google working on a standalone Youtube version for kids under the age of 10. And certainly it is not the first time Google shows a strong interest in children and their well-being, being a known organizer of annual science fairs, maker camps, various Doodle competitions and other forms of funding for education.
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