Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare

by Charlene Li

Like many parents, I try to take steps to keep my kids safe online, making sure that they understand not to share personal information online, or even to use their real names. They know how to write appropriate emails, and I constantly monitoring what they do, the emails they send, and most importantly, engaging in a constant dialog with what they are doing online.

But when I logged into my Google Buzz account this evening, I found that my 9 year old daughter had posted the following:

Buzz piggy picture

Pretty innocuous, but it was PUBLIC! I saw it because Buzz conveniently made me a follow of hers. I pride myself on staying ahead of my kids, but this time, my kid got ahead of me. She used Buzz without fully understanding that what she thought was a private conversation with her friends was in fact very much public.

Fortunately, this was her only Buzz posting. But what was most disturbing was looking at her friends’ conversations and realizing that some of them were chatting with complete strangers, and in some cases, sharing personal information like emails. Absolutely terrifying as these are 4th graders who have no clue.

I quickly turned off Google Buzz,  (but I didn’t totally disable it, more on that below), dashed off an email to the parents of the friends she had been chatting with inside of Buzz (again, all in public, with their real names), and then finally took a long hard look at the situation.

First, I discovered that buried in Google’s terms of service somewhere is that children under the age of 13 are not allowed to have Gmail accounts. But unlike Facebook, which requires that people enter their birthdates when setting up accounts, Google makes no such attempt to educate people signing up for Gmail that such a provision is in place. As a result, while Google is absolved of responsibility because of the TOS, it could and should do a better job of complying with the  Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). [UPDATE: Google does in fact ask for birthdate when signing up, and sends users who are under 13 to the FTC page about COPPA. Obviously, I violated Google's TOS by putting in MY birthdate and then giving account access to my child.]

Second, I think Google will have a second wave of privacy problems to address in Buzz. The easiest thing to do as a parent is to simply disable Buzz, meaning that the Google profile and all followers are deleted — permanently. But the reality is, my child has actually figured out how to use Buzz and seems to enjoy it – unlike most adult users of Gmail! But managing groups, privacy settings, etc. would be required for her to continue using it and I’m not confident as a parent that she’ll be able to figure all of that out. We’ll give it a try, but unless her friends also keep the conversation private, it will all be for naught.

So while I applaud Google for taking quick steps to manage the privacy backlash on Google Buzz, I think Buzz will bring to the fore the quiet reality that many people have enabled Gmail for their kids (and which Google loves because it ensures a new generation of Google devotees).

Without an overhaul and the addition of true parental controls in Gmail, this will remain a problem for Google, and a potential PR nightmare. Imagine parents (and kids) checking out their Buzz accounts to find that “iorgyinbathrooms” is following them, which is exactly what happened with my child’s account!

Does your child have a Gmail account? If so, have you talked to them about what Google Buzz is and how they should be properly using it? Please take action, which may be as dramatic as completely disabling Buzz on your child’s account. Do this as soon as possible, as I’m concerned that unsavory characters are already exploiting this parental control loophole.

Update Part 1: I received a response from a Google spokesperson, with permission to post it here:

“We designed Buzz to make it easy to have conversations with your friends about the things that interest you. Keeping kids safe online is very important to us. You must have a Google account to use Buzz, and we require all new Google account users to provide birthdates to keep children under 13 from signing up for accounts. Since we launched Buzz, we’ve listened to the feedback from our users and have made many product improvements to address their concerns. It’s still early, and we have a long list of improvements on the way. We look forward to hearing more suggestions and will continue to improve the Buzz experience with user control top of mind. Even as we roll out changes, we think it’s important to remember that there’s no substitute for parental supervision to keep kids safe on the Internet.”

Update Part 2: I had a chance to speak with Scott Rubin, who runs the child safety and public policy program at Google. As a parent of young children himself, Scott understands the need for parents to be able to control what their children see and do online. He pointed out that Google earlier this month enabled Safety Mode on YouTube and that the company continues to develop ways to give people in general better control. Scott acknowledged that things went wrong with Buzz and that some improvements were made quickly, and also that there’s more to come. We also discussed an interesting situation regarding children between 13 and 17 — those are are actually allowed to have Gmail accounts  of their own. There are very few controls within the Google universe that give parents control, and Scott expressed an interest in continuing the dialog about what Google can do to ensure child safety.

So if you have suggestions on parental control features you’d like to see Google add, please include them in the comments below.

Update Part 3: As you can see in the comments below, I’ve been branded both an irresponsible parent for giving my child access to email and also a responsible one for taking precautions. I’m often asked what I do as a parent so I thought I’d share some details of the madness to my method. First, there is no such thing as perfect, full-proof parental controls for the Internet short of sitting down with them and watching every keystroke. But that’s exactly what my husband and I did, starting early and stressing basic Internet safety such as not downloading files, sharing personal information, learning to exercise judgment online. Over time, we gave our kids more and more freedom to do things on their own, and put in place clear consequences if they broke the rules. Believe me, there have been many mistakes made and a lot of learning along the way! But each time, no major harm was done and they become more aware of all the pitfalls that being online entail.

Email was initially sent from our machines and our accounts with full supervision, then without supervision, and finally they were given their own accounts.  But I still get copies of everything that they get, and they are allowed to email only people in their address book that are preapproved. This incident has made me rethink what email service we use for the kids, especially since we’re in violation of the Gmail TOS, and I’ll be looking into other options.

YouTube is accessible only from a public PC in the kitchen, and their PCs are in the family room with screens that I can easily see from the kitchen. We also have K9 monitoring software installed that blocks/allows sites and tracks everything they see and use. But my favorite software is TimesUpKidz, which limits their online time to one highly-anticipated hour a day, and then only during certain times. I love it because it removes my need to constantly tell them to get off the computer!

But more important than any piece of software, the thing that I believe keeps them most safe online is the constant communication and conversation we have together about their online activities. When I talked with my daughter about Buzz this morning, I told her that I saw the post that she wrote, and she readily said that she was looking forward to getting comments on it from her friends. When I told her that the posts were public, she said that she had no idea, and immediately agreed to stop using Buzz. She knows that she isn’t ready for a public presence and the reasons why. Our conversation about Buzz was part of our every day, normal conversation about being safe online, discussed in a relaxed way over breakfast. She and her brother frequently ask about things they hear about from their friends or things that they see online, and my hope is that as they enter the tumultuous teenage years, that we will continue having these conversations (although I think I’m be way to optimistic about that!)

Each family has to decide for themselves what works for their kids, and I understand that some people will disagree with  my approach. But it seems to be working for us, and for now, the Google Buzz issue has been resolved. I’m no fool — I know dangerous situations are always lurking around the corner, but I hope that the security controls we’ve put in place plus the ongoing conversations we have will be enough to keep the worst situations from happening.

Comments

  1. I don’t think disabling it actually disables it. You may have to delete your daughter’s Google Profile to really be safe.

    http://r2.ly/xmyc

    • That’s true — to really disable Buzz, you have to delete the profile, apparently forever. I’m waiting for her to wake up so that I can discuss it with her before doing so, but will probably do it in the end.

  2. I had the same exact concern. One day a Google Buzz showed up from my daughter “Dad – what is this?”.

    And I’ve also noted that the kids seem to have already started communicating with their friends using Buzz.

    Sadly Buzz was easy to miss (we run opendns to catch some other online web problems before they develop) because there’s not an easy way to block it short of logging into their account.

  3. Young child with unrestricted unsupervised access to the open Internet pokes around and tries things out. Amazing! What were the odds?

    • Ilo – Good point, except that she doesn’t have unrestricted access — she’s actually pretty restricted from accessing certain sites and activities. But Gmail was one of those trusted sites, at least until they launched Buzz.

      • Still, unsupervised means you’re not there watching her. 9 years old unsupervised is asking for trouble. Don’t blame Google for your problem.

        • Bingo. A nine year old has no business on earth having a private gmail account. Shame on you for allowing this to happen and then having the unmitigated gall to blame Google when the natural consequences arise.

          Did Google drop the ball on the privacy issue? Yes. I also see them taking responsibility for their error and taking steps to correct it. Which is more than I can say for you. All you seem to want to do is blame Google and cause panic.

          I’m the father of a young boy, and you can dollars to danish he’s not going to be allowed to have anything remotely like a private email/social networking account until he’s a teenager. No arguments. This is what a smart parent does. No parent should EVER assume that by putting their kid in front of a keyboard and walking away that anything good is going to come of it. Seriously, what were you THINKING?

          Believing you’re ahead of the game is generally what you hear from suckers in Vegas right before they lose their shirts. Something you should bear in mind next time before your luck gets REALLY bad.

          • Vickie Kirk says:

            I agree whole-heartedly with both of the above comments. I have a 9 year old [game whiz] and a 13 year old…they do not and will not have private email accounts for a long time. They have a computer…in a very public part of the home. They do not and will not ever have computers or TVs in their bedrooms. The love/lust of curiosity online really needs over the shoulder monitoring at all times.

          • seriously? your kids will be luddites. hers will be able to look up what that means online.

            i think it is pretty obvious that Charlene *IS* taking responsibility for her and her child, but she’s also pointing out that Google has done an end-around what you might have previously thought to be a safe activity. And that because of the way it works, it could be an end-around even if your child acts responsibly, but your child’s friends do not ( by posting publicly and exposing your child’s email address publicly ).

            You are assuming that her child was accessing buzz while Charlene wasn’t around – they could have very well been sitting in the same room at the same desk. If you’re not watching every keystroke, a lot can happen when you aren’t looking. This doesn’t make you a bad parent. She never said the email was “private” either. Just that it was her daughter’s.

            the vitriol and self-righteousness directed at the author just seems misplaced to me. if your child attends school, where they likely have computers, they may very well have email and access and there will be one or two adults per every 30 kids. that’s not adequate supervision by your standards. likely you are going to be very surprised what your children are sneaking around doing that you didn’t know about, just like you did to your parents. And all the self-righteousness in the world won’t protect you then.

  4. We let our kids have email, but we use a service called Zoobuh.com – they can only send and receive email from their address book, which I completely and utterly control. I get a copy of all incoming and outgoing email (although that is optional). Great controls and the emails are tagged with a “this is sent from a child” notation (again, optional). Check it out. I like that my son can communicate with Grandma, who is 1250 miles away, and I don’t have to hover over him when he’s doing it. We also looked at a few different browsers for children, but ultimately, we let them use Firefox and they know that they can only click on those items from their Yahoo Kids page and only once, no following the breadcrumbs. We do check on them. Since we have so many computer systems in the house, monitoring them isn’t 100% possible, they have their own systems and we do spot checks of where they’ve gone and if they break the rules, it’s taken away. However, they never have. We stick to games like adventurequest.com and wizard101.com – those allow certain phrases to be “spoken” (selected) by underage kids (again, at your option/settings).

    Okay, I could go on and on, but hopefully that helps and I feel ya… I cannot imagine. A friend of mine found topless photos of her 15 year old on her cell phone being sent to her “boyfriend”. Oy. This mom stuff is hard!

    • Finally a normal person. I´m terribly sorry, but to me it seems that all the others are raising those “i don´t know how to recognize evil around the world because I live in a bubble” kids.

      I know. I´ve been there (I got a t-shirt). I lived in a bubble myself.

      But, on the other hand, I wasn´t raised by “everyone is evil” or “smile and be happy” activists either. So, I managed to defy them and learn well, starting when I was 14. But they were there everytime to tell me to back my reckless way of a little, even at 18. That saved me a lot of trouble. And now they recognize the value of having that rebellious 18-year old punk that was there whenever it was needed. That after that graduated well, have done master and is graduating again. And most of all: that loves my family for what they are, and have friends for what they are. Still a punk at heart, because I haven´t seen anything more powerful that “Do it yourself. Be what you can, try your best and have fun on the way. Society can tell you differently, but the things said to you depend on things that aren´t necessarily true. Don´t believe everything that is sold to you. Think. Disagree. Think again and then disagree with what you thought up until now, because of all those new evidences that can´t be denied. Moral ways lead to suffering because it clashes. Ethics, on the other hand (one´s own, personal debt with their beliefs)can´t be thrown down when it´s convenient.”

      Have you got anything better than that as a way of living?

      You want a simple, dark truth? The kind of people that don´t address the world´s real dangers can be pretty more dangerous than what you would suppose. Those kind of kids, when they earn their license and right to leave home, are ridiculosly driven with prejudice, because they don´t know any better.

      Prejudice becomes hate. Hate is blatantly ignorance combined with some “wake up call” that would, to a normal person, make them sad, depressed for a while, and then going on another better direction. No, the man/woman who doesn´t know any better thinks that a nasty event like the beating up of someone may be due to a reason somehow (the classic “it must be his/her fault too”), and that they should only defend their own turf, what they know.

      This leads to a lot of buyers of Nike being “parents that care a lot about their kids”, but don´t even bother about a chinese kid somewhere else. That care for their country, but not for someone else´s, and also that care so much about privacy, that puts a GPS on their son/daughters cellphone without their consent.

      This is the world today. Overcaring parents, dumb kids, prejudice everywhere. It´s coming full circle.

      I liked when the kids played with wooden planes that wheren´t all round, got hurt, got better, and ultimately learned a lesson. I was one of those and my mother taught me clearly that “you should be conscious of what you do properly. The smallest thing can hurt if done carelessly”.

      Being hurt by a small fall teaches you how to suffer properly and not seek either his own or other´s suffering.

      Europeans do teach their kids better. Say what you want, that´s the truth. Their sons still go out and protest for freedom whenever it´s threatened.

      That´s my 2 cents.

      • Many whos and whats on the wrong places of the sentence. That´s what you get for writing on a text editor. Sorry for the scrambled message. But the meaning is there, I suppose.

  5. Charlene, I am 100% in agreement with you here. What appalls me is that not only did Google only test this internally, with a bunch of engineers but they seem to have no sign off procedures including an Abuse and Safety officer anywhere in the mix. I mean we have one of those in our company and we are *tiny* in comparison with this behemoth.
    It is absolutely shocking that once the horse has bolted, they didn’t even turn it off, resolve all the problems then turn it back on. Just a “Whoops, here are some cosmetic changes, hope that works for ya” and hope everything is alright?
    Maybe because the Google foundation gives some money to childrens charities then that makes everything alright? I mean, really.

    I was speechless when it launched and I’m fairly speechless now – just thinking of our childrens’ vulnerability, and the pathetic disregard of privacy, as if that concept has now gone, and you know, get with it Grandma, no one cares anymore. Children will be hurt. That’s the bottom line.

  6. Such a timely post. I just experienced the same thing moments ago and then i find this post via Twitter. Thanks for the quick overview… one thing I noted was that one of my son’s two followers (i’m one) has a non-public profile.. man is that scary.

    Thanks for the post.

  7. gmail explicitly disallows users under 18 just because of these sorts of issues.

    http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2010/02/17/does-google-buzz-violate-coppa/

    • Charlene Li says:

      Actually, Google does not allow children under the age of 13 to have accounts. The problem of Buzz still persists if you have a child between the ages of 13-17 though. I clarified this in an update in the post.

  8. My young teenage kids found Buzz as well and were all over it, precisely because we haven’t let them be on Facebook, yet, and this provided an immediate alternative without the need for parental consent. Sigh.

  9. You know, you could just teach her to only post privately (and Gmail remembers the last setting). And if you are worried that she is posting publicly, you can see that by checking her public profile.

    And of course it goes without saying that the real danger to kids isn’t from some random internet person, it’s usually someone you know and trust.

  10. Type your comment here. COPPA is a toothless law. We have a 13 year old that has even removed herself from participating in a closed Temple sponsored Facebook page because it violates our household rule that we, her parents, need to be able to see the posts. We have been told by others that we are too restrictive. Fine! It will give her our daughter something to talk to her therapist about years from now. We have found that there is very little out there to assist in developing organizational policy for tween groups which is why we adhere to our own.

  11. Oh, yes that’s true. But how come no one questions why Paypal forking out self service real names because they have their email address, that’s even more disturbing. Seems like there are quite alot of tech companies who think they are above it, them and their lobbyists. Rapleaf is even more invasive, I’m sure insurance companies love it!

  12. Your error was assuming Google cares about your kids. It/they do not care. A 4th grader should not have a gmail account or a buzz account. Or be visiting YouTube. The harm that befalls your kids for letting her play in Google’s world will be your fault.

    • Wow. Okay, so is it okay in 5th grade? 6th? 8th? Or do you view children as mini-adults and parents as needless obstacles for their Constitutional freedoms and adventures?

      • James Butler says:

        Children have no Constitutional Freedoms … those are for adults. So, yes, the age line gets drawn somewhere, and Google (as well as many other sites) draws the line at 13 years old. The fact that any parent would not fully understand what they are allowing their child to do speaks volumes about the parent.

        In this case, and meaning no offense, Charlene, the parent initially erred by not understanding Google’s ToS, and now compounds that error by continuing to allow her child to use a service which she now knows is not designed to be used by a child. While I applaud her eventual realization that Buzz is not secure (and why would it be? Twitter et al. are certainly just as offensive.), this is a fundamental slip. To now say, as she has, that Google needs to change their business model so that her child can be slightly more protected while she wanders the mean streets of the Internet, so that she does not need to be the “Bad Mom”, doesn’t speak well of her approach.

        Charlene, first, remove your daughter’s Gmail account completely. 4th graders simply do not need to be emailing each other, no matter how loudly they cry for it. And if you cannot bear to deprive her of this particular luxury, have her friends send their messages to YOUR account so you can print it out for your daughter, and then she can reply to them while you observe. Second, speak with your child frequently about all things Internet, so that they fully understand and can demonstrate their understanding that the entire Internet construct is just as dangerous as any big city street. Let me repeat that, because it is clearly not recognized in this case: The Internet is JUST AS DANGEROUS as any big city street, like in the high-crime areas of of New York City or Los Angeles … it is NOT for children to be wandering around without an adult by their side, period. Third, step back and come to the realization that YOU are in control of your daughter’s life until she is legally of age (as defined by her State of residence, Constitution notwithstanding), not Google or any other corporation, and that YOU are her protector, not Google or any other corporation.

        You can ALWAYS elect not to use the service.

        • james, you’re kind of being an a**. “no offense intended, but…” your comment speaks volumes about your parenting as well, and how full of “rightness” you must be.

  13. Drives me nuts that my kids outgrew the law. I had issue with a few kid-friendly sites that enforced the 13 yr age restriction, most of which were age appropriate NOW, not when my kids are 13.

    And then there’s Farmville…. wonder how big the the kid population is on that game, considering it’s tied to the FB environment.

  14. I just disabled it on my kids’ accounts. The whole problem comes from the fact that email providers use that ‘no one under 13′ rule to skirt around the fact that kids use these accounts, so they don’t have to put together safety plans nor think about the impact of children using the products. They design these products, fully aware that children WILL use them, but they don’t take the necessary steps during planning to put the children’s usage into the equation…

    Either allow the kids in, create products that work for multiple ages, etc or actively police the accounts that are under 13 and delete them. It’s cowardly, lazy, and just plain irresponsible!

    • Wilson Fisk says:

      the Alternative is just not to use it, no need for calling people lazy and irresponsible and cowards. That’s just downright ridiculous, this is a freedom to choose type of society, so just choose not to use the service and stop looking at others (Google) to point the finger at for your problems

  15. Google Fan says:

    You nailed the problem exactly. I don’t want my kids to have unsupervised access to online social networks. Google added one to gmail without getting the permission of any parents.

    • My kids are not allowed to use Buzz, Twitter, etc. They can only use email because we’ve signed up for KidsEmail.org. It allows me to know exactly what others say to them and what they email to other people, among other things.

  16. Very timely as my 11 year-old son JUST asked me “should I try Buzz?” My answer was “sure–I guess so”–until I read this!

  17. I think Google should ad a ” Parent Control App” for all Gmail accounts so that if children are already using a Gmail ; which is amazing for lifetime brand loyalty , they can be secure. I love Buzz but it is new so I feel if everyone works with Google now that will resolve all issues. Cheray Unman

  18. Thanks, Charlene. I saw your tweet about this before I read this post. I, too, was shocked to find my daughter and all her friends using Google Buzz. The easy access is very, very scary. This is a new age we live in. You really have to monitor your child’s activity online, but it’s getting harder as the technology advances. Thanks for this post and good luck with your little one!

    • Just finished reading the nasty comments. How dare any of you question Charlene’s parenting decisions. I guess these comments all came from flawless, perfect parents who know everything about parenting. The internet is small potatoes compared to other things. Good luck with sex and drugs. I am sure you’ll pass with flying colors. And if you haven’t realized that the world is changing and technology is changing how everyone communicates, even children, you’ve been living under a rock.

  19. You are so right. And then all the experts write about the publicy era of the youngsters who expose and share all without realizing that not all parents have the tools and skills to instruct their kids against such faux pas like Buzz. Same goes for older people who pride themselves on mastering email and many of them have Gmail, which has almost become a comodity, and that is definately a privacy oriented generation.
    I am a strong advocate of an icentered paradigm change that will radically shift interactions to users’ hegemony and privacy approach where all users’ data and exposure and sharing are at the users’s sole control. I elaborated on it in a post Protecting us from the “Only Connect” moves of social platforms calls for a paradigm shift in http://www.icentered.com/protecting-us-from-the-only-connect-moves-of-social-platforms-calls-for-a-paradigm-shift and I hope such abuses will stir people to take an active part in setting the climate that willl empower a paradigm shift towards users’ mastery of their digital life. It is up to us.

  20. This is a really interesting article, thanks for drawing attention to the risks Buzz poses for children. I hope you don’t mind but I have included the article on my blog, http://www.parentalcontrol.co.uk.

  21. Everything I know about social media I learned in a speed of lightning year when I discovered my daughter had a Facebook account. I stood in the kitchen ready to jump off the cliff into the worst decision of my life—no you can’t have Internet ever again. I realized I would be fighting a battle I would not win, took a breath and said instead, “I’m getting a Facebook to keep an eye on you.” She helped me set up my personal profile (and a fan page!). The benefit of sharing the Facebook experience allows me to sense in her online tone when something is bothering her. It has sparked me to intiate conversations that would otherwise not have taken place.

    Parents can’t control their children. Parents can listen and teach, and in the best scenario we learn from each other.

  22. I think what’s important here, like all of us as parents, that when we see a new issue arising (whether online or not) action is taken to discuss the ramifications offline with our children.

    Obviously, Charlene has been communicating with her children each step of the way, throughout their lifete, which is the best way to build two-way communications with her children throughout their teen years.

    I did this with my daughter who is now 23 and it quite competent in running her own life and making good decisions.

    Way to go, Charlene.

  23. Charlene- Very refreshing to see your post surrounding children (rarely see/hear on major blogs) which is a major concern for many families… Until you report more great data on internet security for kids, enJOY your day

  24. Good for you for monitoring what your child is doing online. I completely agree with that. One question though, was it the comment your daughter posted that upset you or the fact that she was able to post anything at all? I’m confused. I didn’t see anything in her comment that would worry or concern in itself. Now, the fact that she know how to do so would be a concern for me as she might accidently reveal personal information.

  25. Sorry Charlene,

    And we wonder why things are so expensive, often needlessly.

    There’s something about “buzz” and “social networking” that says buzz and social networking.

    As the saying goes, “profound in its brevity”.

    I’m not a parent, and this is in no way meant to somehow rate someone’s parental skills. I don’t qualify to make any such rating nor statement.

    I don’t know if there’s such a thing as Kid’s social networking corner, but I don’t think GMAIL sells itself as such. What I’m trying to say here is that even with all the disclaimers, birth date entries, and such, unless Buzz is re-wired to be just for kids, there will be loophole. If not by your kids, someone who pretends to be one. Its really not difficult, even trivial, more so if the environment is “open” and we’re somehow trying to “close” it.

    Social networking, or buzz, by nature is “open”. A kid safe place requires it to be such at its core, not something with “add ins” slapped together to provide some illusion of “closed”.

    Should it therefore be re-wired by dedicating some engineering resources costing some monetary value? Oh wait, Gmail is free…

    At some point, all the freedom and ease the “Web 2.0″ world provides does need our own personal due diligence, maybe even common sense. I don’t ever expect Linked In to be for kids.

    If anyone discovers these things, sure, surprise is expected. Solution? If its not for your kids, stop it. Period. Its one thing to realize it and move on, quite another to try and force something to conform to ones idea of how things “should be” given all the above. It will not work – we’re all just wasting time and money trying to create illusions.

  26. Charlene, both my children (12 and 10) have gmail accounts, and I actually recently went looking through the gmail TOS to see if there were age requirements – and couldn’t find them. So, kudos to you for even finding them, they were so buried.

    I fully disabled buzz for both of them, and they both had no issues with me doing so. And we have a similar set up as you – they use one machine (a laptop) and it’s always in view of the kitchen and family room.

    All of the controls in the world that can be installed on a machine are but one step to protecting one’s kids, but will not take the place of parental involvement. And the people who say that no child should have an account, have to make that choice for themselves. Neither has a socmed account, and they use their email to talk to family, some friends, and myself and my wife. In this day and age, where our 3 year old knows how to use an iPod touch, eliminating internet access to a child is putting them at an extreme disadvantage.

    • Excellent view! I feel so relieved to see that participating is being chosen over excruciating examination and lack of trust.

      See, I live on another country, not US. What lacks here and you had overflowing until not so long ago was a teaching of community sense, the deep value of liberty and trust.

      You can´t teach trust other than by actions. If you raise someone without trust, your building a quite frightening adult. Nothing good can come from that. The only choice this adult would have would be his own metrics to measure the value of things: while some could go well, what about the others?

      • “you are building a quite frightening”, I meant. Sorry for the misspelling, again.

  27. You have it give permission to people to follow you. just like in Twitter and Facebook. You have to teach your child who they should or should not give permission to

  28. love2talk says:

    When I signed up for gmail, it said nothing about being over thirteen. (I think) But they might have changed the rules since then. I looked at buzz just now, and think its just as safe as facebook. I have my profile thing on private, so that only my friends with gmail can see it, as well as my posts. I have an account and everything, but I doubt I’ll be using it at all anyway.

  29. Had no idea that You Tube had a safe mode, I know they restrict viewing of mature videos but thats fairly easy to get around. For while I’ve been using Net Nanny and PC Tattletale’s parental control software solution and the two seem to give me every thing I need to protect my kids.

  30. and I think your an over-reacting parent. Chill out. Their your daughters friends, not your daughter. If she’s not participating in all the hubbub, why are you so afraid. I agree with your article overall, but as for your own daughter, I think she’s fine. Just monitor it and have her post her posts on the “Private” setting, and set up the friends that it will post to. Problem solved.

  31. *reads blog*

    …so?

  32. Wow, awesome blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog glance easy. The overall glance of your web site is wonderful, as smartly as the content!

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] @charleneli: New post: Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare. http://bit.ly/d9kXAp If UR kids use Gmail, check their Buzz [...]

  2. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare « Altimeter … [...]

  3. [...] See the article here: Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare « Altimeter … [...]

  4. [...] now, we’ve focused heavily on Google Buzz privacy issues as they apply to adults; however, Charlene Li points out an obvious miss – Google Buzz, its privacy settings and how they apply to children [...]

  5. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare [...]

  6. [...] filed a class-action lawsuit against Google over Buzz, technology analyst Charlene Li calls Buzz a “nightmare” for parents when it comes to children’s privacy and safety, and industry commentator Kirk [...]

  7. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare [...]

  8. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare [...]

  9. [...] of hers. I pride myself on staying ahead of my kids, but this time, my kid got ahead of me,” Li wrote. “Fortunately, this was her only Buzz posting. But what was most disturbing was looking at [...]

  10. [...] You can read more about this on Charlene Li’s blog. [...]

  11. [...] data privacy laws – rickmans NASA’s Lunar Electric Rover iPhone game – allerhed Google Buzz and Parental Controls – wideawakewesley Google buys reMail application, removes from appstore Mozilla Ubiquity no [...]

  12. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare « Altimeter … [...]

  13. [...] (GOOG) been bad. So they issued a heartfelt and very personal apology: Responding to recent public outcries over [...]

  14. [...] And what about the long-term damage they might be inflicting? Especially the kids? [...]

  15. [...] youngest Internet users aren’t socializing online (even the most-watchful parent can be surprised sometimes), Togetherville acknowledges the fact that children can and do want the opportunity to [...]

  16. [...] youngest Internet users aren’t socializing online (even the most-watchful parent can be surprised sometimes), Togetherville acknowledges the fact that children can and do want the opportunity to [...]

  17. [...] This is a link to a blog post from a parent who is an expert on Social Media (in business). It explains how she discovered that her daughter (9 at the time) was using Google Buzz. http://www.altimetergroup.com/2010/02/google-buzz-and-kids-parental-control-nightmare.html [...]

  18. [...] what about the long-term damage they might be inflicting? Especially the kids? Are they getting a bit… arrogant? Is it just “good [...]

  19. [...] Google Buzz and Kids – Parental Control Nightmare (Charlene Li) [...]

  20. […] what about the long-term damage they might be inflicting? Especially the kids? Are they getting a bit… arrogant? Is it just “good […]