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Committed to a Safer Google Play for Families (googleblog.com)
37 points by WalterSobchak 52 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments

>> Apps that include children in their target audience need to adhere to our new policy requirements including appropriate content, showing suitable ads (learn more), and disclosing personally identifiable information correctly.

so youtube kids would be a flagrant violation of their new policy. why do they keep recommending this app to me? shouldn't it just be demonitized like they do to countless devs for unstated reasons.

Google has less than zero trust stored and they should probably learn that this means they will lose money (sooner or later).

YouTube kids has issues, no doubt.

But I'm happy to see this post and their attempt to improve things in the Play Store. I think there are people at Google that want to do the right thing. Hope they can do so against motivation to blindly increase "engagement", clicks, users, monetization.

How dare they try to improve Google Play whilst YouTube Kids has an issue.

By the way, how dare they try to improve YouTube Kids whilst Google Play has an issue.


Youtube Kids is videos OF kids, not videos FOR kids.

From Wikipedia:

> YouTube Kids is a video app developed by YouTube. The app provides a version of the service oriented towards children, with curated selections of content, parental control features, and filtering of videos not deemed to be appropriate to the target audience.

I mean, yes, they say that, but there's plenty of videos(on YouTube, lol) showing how to get to child-inappropriate videos on YouTube Kids(Jake Paul videos for instance, they don't show if you search for Jake Paul but there are other terms you can search for and they will show up).

And physically[0], Jake Paul is not a child, further debunking the post I was replying to initially.

[0]: I'm sure there's a ton of controversy because this is the internet and that's what you people do for a living, so I'm sure I'll get some posts claiming he's as mature as a 5 year old or whatever. But Google says born in 1997, which I'm sorry to tell you means he's not a child.

Jake Paul is mature, FOR a 5 year old.

I'm wondering if there is any protection to changing the google account and/or resetting the phone by the child. My daughter got as far as reinstalling MacOS to get around parental controls, at which point I gave up trying to use software to limit her screen time.

That’s not so hard to prevent, but I think it’s awesome she went that far!

How old was your daughter? In my mind parental controls are never going to be effective past ~9 years old.

She was 14 at the time but she had restrictions because she was preparing for the high-school entrance exam which is quite tough.

The Force is strong in your daughter.

The way easier solution to this content rating mess is don’t give your young child a phone/tablet. Give them a coloring book and a Snap Circuits kit.

I realize this isn’t something Google can do something about; this is directed at the parents giving an internet connected device to a developing mind.

Having tried all the above and far more, I'm here to tell you Snap Circuits got nowhere with my kids.

I will say I tried to be the dad that gave them access on the theory that 'they'll have to learn sometime, better while they're under parental supervision." How wrong I was. The phones are like crack to an addict.

My advice to my friends with significantly younger kids (mine are 14 and 17 now): you don't want your kids to be the first in their cohort to have a phone, and you probably don't want to be last, but you and the parents of their friends should be competing to see who's last.

> competing to see who's last

That's a very interesting observation but to really get it to work requires very close cooperation between parents. That takes a lot of time and goodwill which is not easy to create or maintain except in very special circumstances or in rather closed groups.

Our fatal mistake was to get a phone for our son when he started to walk home from school in case there was any change in the usual schedule. Once the genie is out of the bottle any protocol or agreements are negated pretty much instantly. There are so many pressures to encourage phone use (messaging, etc.) it's impossible to restore any level of control without (potentially severe) social consequences for the kids.

Then you wouldn't need to write apps targeting kids, since no kids would be able to use them, and all of this doesn't apply to apps for adults.

I don’t expect all parents to follow my advice, so there’s always going to be a market for apps targeting children.

My daughter was a virtual school student last year. Every teacher expected to be able to text and call my daughter throughout the school the day. Technically she didn't have to have her own phone, but in practical terms it was a requirement for (middle) school. Non-traditional schooling seems to be on the rise, so I wonder if this kind of requirement will become more common.

Do you have kids?

You think that is easy?

It is if you never start. Once your kids are hooked, forget it.

And what about exposure from outside your control?

Edit: and what about for parents who don't have the resources or ability to manage that kind of control? My point is that it's not easy, not even in the slightest.

I don’t understand why this has suddenly become so complex; you simply don’t give the kid a phone. That’s not a resource, that’s a lack of a resource.

If they’re super young, they’ll entertain without electronics. Give them a coloring book.

If they’re a little older, tell them to go use that Snap Circuits kit. Or here’s a ZX Spectrum and a manual on z80 asm. Or here’s a Nintendo DS and a Pokemon game.

The challenge is when all their friends have a phone, and they want one. Sure, if the culture at your kids school is no one has a phone, then no one cares. If not, it's a lot harder, and does have impacts on them socially.

And you tell them no and that's that.

I don't agree that it's social death, because I've seen it managed fine. But I do think that rebellion is inspired from rules, especially over socially popular phenomenon.

It sucks how it is but I've seen plenty of people totally ostracized because they lack internet/social media. Nobody wants to communicate unless it's online.

Your kids being the only ones without an tablet/smartphone is social death. Great they are not stuck to a screen, instead they will be a miserable outcast. I agree with your initial post, but the implementation is far from easy and needs an collective approach if you dont want to just ruin your kids lives.

The pressure kids get from their schools to be on iPads, Google classroom, a whole set of apps is unreal. The schools don’t even ask for permission before giving them all of these things.

I agree with not giving a young person a phone, but I don't consider it easy. This life has all but demanded the smart phone be an essential part of success. A well off (not necessarily financially well off, rather good parent status) parent might be able to keep this away from a child, but I don't think the same is for most parents in America.

A tablet, not connected to the net might be reasonable compromise.

Review times will increase to up to 7 days. My impression was that most app reviews on Google Play are automated and do not involve humans.

Will Google begin to have every single kids app release go through a human reviewer?

While the content ist laudable, did they really just announce that starting September 1st, devs should plan ahead due to extended review times - and make the announcement on August 30?

They announced it back in may: https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2019/05/building-s...

That article is also linked on the fourth word in this article...

That link doesn't announce increased review times.

However, reviews have been taking days for a while now. Even changing the app store icon now requires days for approval.

I don't envy parents trying to navigate this issue these days. It seems completely reasonable for Google to try to help them figure it out by providing some information.

Safer for families? How about not advertising to children whose decision making process is very much compromised, in not being formed yet? Any attempt to claim they are making things "safer" is simply lip service to a cause that they, by design, are not in favour of. My children will not be watching commercial TV nor having access to "smart" devices unless things radically change (and hopefully I can stick to it).

While the deeper review is fine, Why wasn’t this better planned with more resources allocated to the review process to keep the time in 2-3 days. And when I submitted my game - Word Hookup -for internal testing it took 8 days for approval. Why should internal testing require this prolonged review. 7 days for internal testing is a painful and unacceptable waste of devs time.

Google Play is safest when you don't use it. Google has too much control over our lives already.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

Sounds like Google is the one not following a certain policy called federal law....costing it $200M.

It's a bit like Face#### getting preachy about user privacy.

Not related to the article as much as related to google decisions and android in relation to 'families' aka kids and parents..

the parental controls for time that phone went off and was available for better then nothing.. but at 14th birthday all parental control and oversight is removed.

I've searched a bit, and found that maybe Disney Circle is the thing closest to what is needed in situations that I have experienced and seen others try to contend with. 'popcorn time' comes to mind as an app that was widely mentioned when searching for the right controls - from what I remember some things with that fell short. I remember some discussions about an openDNS or similar 'open-souce' dns poisoning service that was similar and competing with disney circle - but when I went to try it out I felt that is was not going to work well and I may not get it to function at all from the docs I saw.

Anyhow, I really want an open source / free alternative the gives parents some controls and clearly explains to teens what is being controlled... I think all parents need the ability to turn off certain apps, or turn off all apps aside from a whitelist of apps that could be available when the others are turned off.

Phones are tricky today in that we want to limit the access to the games at times, but may want to keep access to a phone app like grooveip or google voice.

whether it's bed time or dinner time, I think many of us want to limit some apps but allow other functions, like actually being a phone to still work / be accessible.

I know some parents want to monitor all discussions, that may be a fine choice - but whatever other monitoring may be available, I'd like the kids to have notices about the monitoring.. from parents, from apps, from govments..

While I'm pouring out mu wishlist here, I want an app that monitors for 'bad words lists )editable and subscribable ) - so that a notice can be sent to parents if words like suicide or kill are detected via text or audio.. but not send entire conversations to parents to pry into every detail, and likely miss important things by getting too much data.

In short, I think google's decision to remove all parental oversight at 13 is not good, and affordable options for better monitoring are not available at the moment - and we should do more and better.

While I'm wishlisting, why the hale don't we have auto detection for curse words in youtube videos (and some other words) and the ability to censor them with beeps or silence - some of the gaming youtubers may be entertaining enough to watch but some of the language that is used so much that it injects itself into the daily vocab of kids like an overplayed rap song is too much. Youtube has the power and code already there for transcribing, it could do this kind of thing easy right?

I have one step-kid that will not use youtube on phone at all do the kids only version at 12 1/2 years old.. and another over 13 that watches so much I worry and wonder.

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