Kids and Google Don’t Mix . . . Unless . . .

We’ve learned some lessons in our house thanks to Google+

You know those “Terms of Service Agreements” you agree to every time you join a website?

Have you EVER read them?

Well, I haven’t either . . .

One of our daughters wanted to join Google+ because one of her teachers suggested that students could collaborate on school projects in a safe on-line environment in Google+.

Many of her friends had already secured an account and were connected but when we attempted to register our daughter, we were DENIED because she is not old enough. Turns out, there’s a minimum age for ANY Google Account of 13 as a result of legislation known as COPPA.

A few Google searches later, I learned that the 13 year old threshold has always been there, but not enforced until Google+ came along requesting birth date upon registration . . . If under-age, GOOGLE simply DELETES the account never to be recovered.
Google does not have any “Parental Consent” options allowable to skirt this.
so . . . How did all those other kids get their Google+ accounts?
Either:
1. The Student lied about age when registering without Parents knowing
or
2. The Student lied about age when registering WITH Parents knowing.
In the first case, (Judgmental, curmudgeon) I don’t think those Moms and Dads are paying close enough attention to what Jr is doing on the internet.
In the second case . . . Shame on Mom & Dad for being OK with telling a fib to get around a LAW . . . What are they going to say when Jr is driving a car?
“It’s OK if you speed and drink and drive as long as you don’t get caught because EVERYONE does it!”
REALLY?
this leaves the schools in a bind . . . If they are advocating use of Google+ to under-aged kids, then mightn’t the school bear some responsibility/liability if something bad happens as a result of loose internet behavior?
Perhaps I think too much . . . I thought . . . “Self! There MUST be a LEGAL way for these kids to have access to this great tool!”
I continued to dig and found the following response from a Google+ employee:
Natalie Villalobos (Google Employee)

Hello gadkarisan, wibberleo, and all those affected by this policy,

I know this must have been frustrating, so I wanted to offer some explanation. We have actually been asking for users’ birth dates on several services for years. Under our policies, Google doesn’t allow users who are under the age of 13 to have Google Accounts, unless they are using Google Apps for Education accounts through their school. This is similar to a lot of online services, as it’s very complicated for many providers to offer better solutions for children that meet the relevant regulations. It’s not as simple as just asking a parent for consent to let their child have an account — there are associated implications for data and privacy involved.

I’d also like to point out that we’re actively investigating any other options that we may be able to offer for exporting data from accounts that have become locked for this reason. We know that this data is important to people, and we want to help by finding the right solutions. We’re also working on designing special safety settings for teens.

Thanks for your feedback,Natalie, Community Manager for the Google+ project

So . . . there ya have it!

My learning . . .

Let’s all slow down a bit and THINK when we stumble across something not quite right.

How quickly can we “innocently” compromise our own integrity?

ESPECIALLY when it comes to what our children witness US doing and allowing?

Silly or not . . . those rules are there for a reason and breaking these kinds of rules potentially creates a mentality of tolerating higher and higher levels of risk.

Most folks don’t “get” this til something really BAD happens.

Just sayin’,

Best,

b

PS . . . I’ll be working with our kids’ school to establish a “Google Apps for Education” account so our children can collaborate safely on-line 🙂

Published by Barry Owen

Strategist-CEO of Pareto Realty Real estate sales Professional Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities BarryOwen.US Invite-Listen-Love

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