Google has announced a slew of changes to its platform in an effort to afford more protections to those under 18.
Social media companies, and tech companies in general, have been under increased scrutiny and pressure over the negative impact social media and the internet can have on young people. Instagram recently announced it would set new accounts for those under 16 to private by default.
Mindy Brooks, Product and UX Director, Kids and Families, outlined new features and changes Google is now rolling out, including setting YouTube uploads for teens, aged 13-17, to the most private option. The company will also prominently feature videos aimed at addressing digital wellbeing and commercial consent, concepts teens sometimes struggle with.
Google also plans to expand its SafeSearch feature, which filters out explicit content, turning it on for the accounts of teens under 18, and making it the default mode for all new accounts created by teens. The company is making similar efforts to ensure mature content doesn’t surface when a child uses Google Assistant on a shared device.
Location History will also receive some changes. As it stands now, the feature cannot be turned on for children with supervised accounts, but Google will expand that to all accounts for teens under 18 globally.
Google’s new safety section in the Play Store will give parents more details regarding apps, letting them know which ones follow the company’s Families policies. Similarly, Google Workspace for Education will receive a number of changes to make it easier for administers to customize experiences for different age groups.
Google will also add additional safeguards “to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens, and we will block ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18.”
Google’s plans represent one of the most comprehensive efforts the company has made to protect teens under 18, and will hopefully be emulated by other companies.