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Oh, come on. I have kids, too. When they were that old, I told them never to sign up for anything without asking me, and I told them why we were lying about their age and address, because there are people on the Internet who we can't trust.

Now that they're older (my son is 12 now) and really do have the sophistication to understand this distinction - and you're right, a 9yo or 11yo doesn't - they understand why we did that. But the key is, your 9yo and 11yo trust you, and should continue to do so. They don't care what you answer when signing them up for Google Mail - they don't even notice discrepancies of that nature. In the case they do, you tell them why you're doing it.

Google did most certainly make Alex cry - in exactly the same way that his hard drive crashing would have done so. Sure, ultimately it's the parents' fault, in a way, for letting him use fallible computer systems, and that in itself is probably a good lesson, but Google most certainly shares the blame here for boneheaded policies that don't even give parents the option of interceding. And the reason is the same as Google's reason always is: it was easier for Google.




In other words you're acting as your son's guardian, which is exactly as it should be.

The problem I have is with telling your kid: go ahead sign up and lie about your age. There's a huge difference between the parent taking the step of creating the account with a password known by the parent and telling the kid to go ahead and lie, which is what a lot of (probably childless) commenters suggest.


"You need to fill in an earlier year here, otherwise Google's computer will think you're too young to use GMail [and might throw away your email at some point]"

It's important to be clear that you're lying to a computer system, not another human being.


I would be inclined to teach my kids that if they run across something that has unreasonable barriers, they should work around them. The more creative they are in working around them, the better.

That will likely make parenting an absolute hell, but they'll be well-equipped for dealing with the adult world.


Determining which barriers are unreasonable takes a lot more maturity than I think you realize. Kids need to learn to play by the rules before they learn which ones to break.


Exactly so. Working around comes later.


I agree and I would say this barrier is more inconvenient than unreasonable. And we should not encourage rule-breaking for convenience.


The computer system didn't fail. The parent failed to understand the consequences of what they were doing.

Yes no-one reads the ToS but by the same token we all know we take a risk when doing so. Google did nothing wrong in this instance, they just held the person to an entirely reasonable and fair condition of use.


Balderdash. This is an unintended consequence of Google keeping too much information across system boundaries.


So because Google leak information the lie was discovered?

That's like a criminal blaming a witness for them getting caught.

If the lie wasn't there nothing would have happened, you have to look at the root event, not what followed.


No, this is the result of US law. Google can't legally collect information from children, they have no choice but to remove his account.


I think it's the fact that children can't legally form contracts therefore can't be bound by the ToS which is in question here.

That inability to form contracts below a certain age actually protects children and is in their benefit, no-one should want it removed. Yes there are situations where it seems overkill but on balance it's a good thing.

So given that the law is reasonable it has not, as with most things with kids, fall back on the parents.

(Note: My understanding of the law is based on English law rather the US law but I'm guessing that something similar applies)


The US actually has laws about collecting information from children.[1] Google is not set up to collect information from children so they have to ban the account and delete the information or risk criminal charges. Now they don't have to do this if they have consent from the child's parents but given their lack of customer service, they probably wouldn't bother to deal with that.

1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childrens_Online_Privacy_Protec...


Oh. Apparently Microsoft doesn't operate in the United States. My bad.




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