Google to launch child-friendly versions of products like YouTube and Chrome

Products will be designed around kids, and allow parents to look after children online

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The Independent Tech

Google is to launch child-friendly versions of its search, browser and YouTube tailored for children.

The company is going to launch specific versions of its most popular products — likely including those three, though potentially others — for children 12 and younger, vice president of engineering at Google, Pavni Diwanji, revealed to USA Today.

"The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there's a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children," Diwanji, the vice president of engineering charged with leading the new initiative, said.

The company expects it to be controversial, said Diwanji, who has two children of her own. She said the initiative was partly inspired by watching children use the internet — and told USA today that seeing her child surprised by searching for trains and seeing schedules appear, rather than Thomas the Tank Engine.

US authorities have often taken a hard line on web companies using childrens’ data, and parents might worry about what children are getting up to online. But the software will allow parents to supervise children’s use — with potential features like only allowing them on the internet during set times — without allowing them to be overly strict.

There is no public schedule for rollout, but Diwanji stressed that the project will be a full-time effort rather than an experiment.

The company has already rolled out child-friendly initiatives, including the virtual Maker Camper, the Doogle 4 Google competition and the Made With Code Initiative, which will see the White House Christmas tree lights illuminations based on code created by kids as part of the move.

The company also built code lessons into its annual Santa tracker this year, which will use puzzles and games to teach children basic coding.