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I will agree that children under 13 are perfectly capable of using email safely with adult supervision.

However, the circumstances involved show why 13 years of age may be considered a reasonable minimum age for using Google's services, because the incident which sparked the account being locked was a 10 year old signing up for a social network designed with the assumption that its users would be capable of make sophisticated decisions regarding privacy and be reasonably able to detect ill intent or predatory behavior in an online environment.

While I can understand that the motives which led to the creation of the original email account were based on sound parenting and offered clear benefits for a child, it is hard to imagine sound rationales for giving a 10 year old unfettered access to a social network.

From email to social network there is a quantum leap in the level of sophistication required to safely navigate the service and I see Google's stance as not only justified but reasonable. The argument that it is ok to lie about one's age breaks pretty quickly - very few people are comfortable with 12 year old girls telling grown men they are 18.

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