Fears over child-focused Google

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A top government adviser has voiced concern about the worsening “commercialisation” of youngsters after Google announced it would launch child-specific products.

The web firm revealed it was working on plans to tailor its offerings to children aged 12 and under and while it has been welcomed, some commentators warned of the risks of exposure to consumerism and also to their privacy.

Last week, Pavni Diwanji, Google’s vice president of engineering, revealed the move in an interview with USA Today, but did not give details of which products or when they could be launched.

The Government’s childhood tsar Reg Bailey, who is chief executive of the Mothers’ Union and led a review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, told the Independent: “We are very interested in how Google uses the data gathered from these new child-orientated products.

“Using them as a tool to reach, advertise and sell to a younger audience would only make the commercialisation of children worse.

“Safer environments for children should not just be about protecting them from explicit material but also about valuing them as children and not as consumers.”

Ms Diwanji said: “We expect this to be controversial, but the simple truth is kids already have the technology in schools and at home. So the better approach is to simply see to it that the tech is used in a better way.

“We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products. We want kids to be safe, but ultimately it’s about helping them be more than just pure consumers of tech, but creators, too.”

Published: Saturday 6th December 2014 by The News Editor

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