Google is ready to target a special set of potential new customers: Children under the age of 13. The Information and The Wall Street Journal report that the company wants to offer children an easy yet safe way to access Google Internet services including Gmail and YouTube, which aren’t officially available to children, although they can easily sidestep Google’s precautionary settings by lying about their age when setting up an account.
Google plans to offer accounts to children under 13 years old for the first time, a move that will take the world’s largest Internet search provider into a controversial and operationally complex new market. Accounts on Google services such as Gmail and YouTube are not officially offered to children, though there is little to stop them from logging on anonymously or posing as adults to sign up for accounts. Now Google is trying to establish a new system that lets parents set up accounts for their kids, control how they use Google services and what information is collected about their offspring, according to a person familiar with the effort. Earlier this year, Google was developing a child version of its online video site YouTube suited to tablet computers that would let parents control content, another person familiar with the company’s plans said.