Although YouTube requires you to be 13 to make an account, many pre-teens admit to using the site regardless. According to a recent study, 93 percent of 8- to 11-year-olds are YouTube users. They’re also becoming some of the site’s biggest stars, like EvanTubeHD and a spate of young toy reviewers.
Google will need to be careful as it designs its services specifically for children. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has strict rules about marketing online services to kids. Mining data—which Google does on its other products—or serving inappropriate content could land the company in hot water.
Google VP of Engineering Pavni Diwanji, who is in charge of the project, told USA Today that she was “a big believer in coaching moments for kids, rather than just blocking what they can do. I want to enable trust in them.”
“Thirteen isn’t some magical number,” Diwanji said. “I want to teach them what’s right and wrong, and bring families together using technology.”
Google has not announced a timeline for the rollout of YouTube or any other Google products for kids. Until kid-friendly versions arrive, those under the age of 13 will have to continue to access Google products the old fashioned way—by lying about their ages.