Google to make versions of popular products such as YouTube and Chrome for under-12s

4 Dec 2014

Internet search giant Google is working on creating kid-friendly versions of its most popular products, including YouTube. Products aimed at under 12s will begin rolling out next year.

The move is in keeping with a broader trend in the digital world to create products that reach a new audience but are within strict US government regulations, such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Google’s vice-president of engineering Pavni Diwanji told USA Today the big motivator for the project was the fact an increasing number of Googlers now have kids, which informs their idea generation.

The most likely products to be tailored for an under-12s market are ones that already are popular within a broad age group, such as video-sharing site YouTube and internet browser Chrome.

“We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home,” Diwanji said.

“So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.”

A really good illustration of Google’s efforts to create technologies for under-12s is the Google Santa Tracker that went live this week, which includes content such as videos and games, as well as modules in JavaScript coding.

Kids: the next digital frontier for marketers

Focusing on the under-12s market within strict COPPA guidelines is already big business in the US, Europe and Asia, and there has been talk for some time that social network Facebook is even mulling a kid-friendly product.

One of the leading players in this market is Irishman Dylan Collins, whose SuperAwesome marketing platform reaches 200m kids every month.

The company has more than 100 content partners and has become a go-to advertising network for kids’ brands, including Hasbro, LEGO, Warner Bros, OMD, Carat, Mediacom and more than 150 others.

Speaking with in recent weeks, Collins explained how SuperAwesome has grown to reach more than 200m children globally.

“We have just under 100 of the world’s top kids’ content publishers/developers who use our ad platform to show kid-safe advertising to their audience,” Collins said.

“In aggregate across mobile, web, video in the US, the UK, Australia and Asia, that number of active kids is 200m every month. It’s pretty huge and it’s precisely why so many brands use us for marketing, as they can reach the entire audience via our platform versus trying to deal with each platform/publisher separately.”

Kid-friendly internet image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years