Google working on child-friendly sites
Firm said to be developing versions of YouTube and Gmail to which it could let children under 13 sign up
Google is said to be developing a new version of its products designed specifically for children.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the firm is creating a child-friendly YouTube and Gmail and will be the first time that children under the age of 13 are able to set up Google accounts.
The report said that Google executives are sensitive to the fact many parents are wary about allowing their children on YouTube, fearing they will be confronted by X-rated pop videos or expletive-laden comments.
A new child-friendly version would potentially include a Google dashboard to give parents greater control over what their children are doing online.
Google refused to confirm or deny the claims. A spokeswoman in the UK said: "Google has nothing to say on this as it is founded in just rumour and speculation."
In the UK, the acting director of Big Brother Watch, Emma Carr, said: "It was only a matter of time that online companies started to target their products at younger users. This demographic is immensely susceptible to advertising and are therefore a huge untapped source of revenue for these companies.
"It is imperative that Google, and any other company that directly targets products at children, ensures that privacy safeguards are automatically in place to ensure that both parents and their children are very clear about information will be collected, analysed and used. Failure to do this jeopardises losing both the parents and children as future users of these products, a fate that few companies would want to materialise."