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Bad US Regulations or Google Incompetence?

·707 words·4 mins
Consumerism Family Gaming Google Yahoo

First, this is a response to a blog post here (via Techmeme). If you are too lazy to read it, here’s an executive summary: Google is saying they will delete 2 years worth of email and all other Google Account data for 10 years old Alex (Who is naturally crying now). All because he is under 13, which they just now learned about.

Lego Universe Preview SnippetThis one really hit home for me – as most of you probably know, we are completely Internet family here. Really – my 7 year old has his own laptop on his play table. It’s there for many years now and he feels extremely at home with it. My other kids are not under 13, but definitely were using Google and Microsoft and other services, for many years as well.

I must be missing something – but I definitely know that Yahoo has Family accounts Specifically for children under 13. In fact, that is how our 7 year old Elijah is able to safely enjoy email! Furthermore, there are now myriad of Online Social Games Designed for Children – such as Lego Universe he enjoys immensely this summer.

If other big companies, including Disney, Nickelodeon and many others, figured out how to let Children onto their site – is Google just incompetent or lazy?

And what about Facebook? There are TONS of children on Facebook under 13, we know for sure. They aren’t safe, because Facebook has no good parental controls or mechanisms! Either way – we keep telling our son that he needs to wait until he is 13, as lying is not something we do. There are countless times he gets upset about this, if only to be able to play those fun Facebook games (by Zynga and others) he keeps seeing others enjoy. Ridiculous – even Facebook has no excuse not to have some viable Parental controls and let kids onto their site! Does Facebook and Google think they are still young “dorm” startups, with no time or budget to ‘figure it out’?

Dealing with important Real World issues like parental-controls is what being big business is all about!!! Do they want the next generation to grow up holding a grudge against these companies, for not letting them onto their sites sooner?


Comments #

Comment by Adi R on 2011-07-04 15:14:39 -0500>

Comment by Adi R on 2011-07-04 15:14:39 -0500 #

In an effort not to make my post too long, I’ll just add some more thoughts here:

  1. That paragraph about Grudge is just one angle. Arguably a more important angle is being there “first”. We all like to keep things we are “used to”, so my son is likely to stick with Yahoo email for long time, now that they let him on there before anyone else.
  2. My other kids have school assignment for Summer this year, completely on Facebook. I don’t think our Public School teacher even gave it a second thought. That some children may not have a Facebook account – preposterous!
Comment by Roy on 2011-07-07 07:29:40 -0500>

Comment by Roy on 2011-07-07 07:29:40 -0500 #

I dont think Google is aiming for 13 minus years old segment. However, it will be wise that they will create such segment so when you turn 13 you can “upgrade” your child email account.

I read once a study that kids/youth do not use email anymore as they use apps and other platforms to communicate.

Comment by Adi R on 2011-07-07 17:45:05 -0500>

Comment by Adi R on 2011-07-07 17:45:05 -0500 #

You know – reflecting on my own kids growing up – they definitely don’t like email. I do see them using Twitter/Facebook/etc much more than email, but I don’t think this is a generational shift, rather just an age thing.
In other words – as they grow up, they will realize email value and will come to respect it, I am sure. For now all their interactions are “for fun”, thus the different use case of preferring other media to good-old email.

And I definitely agree that Google is not aiming at “under 13”, but I think that aim should be relatively easy to achieve. And, will become Especially Critical once Zynga games come to Google+ 🙂