Google to increase online safeguards for under 18s

Posted by Edith MacLeod on 11 Aug, 2021
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Measures include restricting ads and overly commercial content, and stronger controls in YouTube and Search.

Google protection for minors.

Image source: Unsplash

Google has outlined a series of measures designed to protect minors and give them a safer digital space. With the expansion of time spent online accelerated even further by the pandemic and steps to provide increased protection for children are welcome.

Here are the details:


Safeguards will be expanded to stop age-sensitive ads being shown to teens, and Google says ad targeting based on the age, gender, or interests of people under 18 will be blocked.


The default upload setting for teens aged 13-17 will be changed to the most private option available.

Take a break and bedtime reminders will be turned on by default for users aged 13-17 on YouTube and autoplay will be off by default for this age group. There will be autoplay options on YouTube Kids, and autoplay will be off by default in the app. Further parental controls will be added in the app, giving parents the ability to choose what is right for their family.

Google says they will start removing overly commercial content from YouTube Kids. This would include, for example, a video focusing only on product packaging or one which directly encourages children to spend money. There are also updated disclosures in kid-friendly formats about paid product placements.

YouTube is heavily watched by children and teens, so it's crucial to have protections in place.

You can read more details here.

Search and location

Safe Search helps filter out explicit results when enabled. It is on by default for signed-in users under 13 with accounts managed by Family Link. It will now be the default setting for teens setting up new accounts, and will be turned on for existing users under 18 over the coming months.

Users under 18 will not have the option of turning on location history.

Removal of images

Google also announced a new policy which will allow anyone under 18s, or their parent or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google Image results.

Google said the new policies would be rolling out globally in the coming weeks and months.

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