Google announces various measures to protect minors online. The company now sets YouTube uploads from minors to private by default, turns off autoplay and turns on Google’s SafeSearch filter by default.
Google puts a list of changes on its blog that should ensure better online protection for children. In the coming weeks, YouTube will adjust the upload default for users between the ages of 13 and 17. From now on, videos they upload will be set to private, so videos can only be viewed by specifically designated people. YouTube wants to make children more aware of who they share information with. The minors can adjust the setting themselves and share their uploads publicly.
Autoplay off, bedtime reminders on
YouTube will also turn off the autoplay function by default for underage users and show bedtime and break reminders. Those features are already available as part of the digital wellbeing tools, but are now becoming opt-out instead of opt-in.
Furthermore, Google will disable autoplay by default in the YouTube Kids app and there will be an option that allows autoplay to be turned on by default. Currently YouTube Kids has autoplay, but there is no setting to adjust that. YouTube says more parental control tools are coming to the YouTube Kids app in the coming months, including the ability to lock the autoplay setting.
In addition, Google says in the coming weeks it will start removing videos from YouTube Kids that have “excessively commercial content.” Paid product placements are not allowed on YouTube Kids, but the service now says it will also take action against videos that, for example, only focus on product packaging or encourage children to spend money.
Google turns on SafeSearch for all minors
With Google Search, SafeSearch is now automatically enabled for all users under the age of 18. Currently, the filter that displays ‘explicit results’ is already enabled by default for users under the age of 13 who have an account managed through Family Link. In the coming months, SafeSearch will also be turned on by default for users between the ages of 13 and 17, as well as for minors creating new accounts.
Location history not available for minors
Google is also making changes to the location history of minors. By default, this is already off for all accounts. Accounts of children up to the age of 13, who must be supervised by another account via Family Link, also cannot enable the option. Google is going to raise that age limit to 18 years. Location history will then no longer be available to them at all.
Parental Controls on Assistant Devices
Google also says it is doing more to prevent the display of ‘age-sensitive’ ads to teenagers. Google also says it will block ads that are aimed at the age, gender or interests of minors. In addition, the company promises new additions to parental controls so that parents can block news, podcasts, and access to web pages on devices with Google Assistant.