Chances are, if you have a child aged 9 or 10, that they already have an email address, Google age restrictions be damned. For these kids, who are already texting and WhatsApping, it’s unlikely that they don’t have a Gmail account. After all, you usually need an email address to register on websites like YouTube, another much-frequented site for kids under 13, many of whom watch more videos on the Internet than they do television.
In August this year rumours swirled that Google was considering making Gmail and YouTube accounts available for children. What prevents the tech giant is a US law called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA. (I’m not sure if there is an equivalent law in South Africa.)
Another rumour is that Google is working on a kid-friendly version on YouTube. I would imagine that in both instances, Google would build in a parental consent component. For instance, I wouldn’t mind my under-13s having a kid-friendly YouTube account if I was emailed a daily report on what videos they watched.