December 7th, 2007 | Published in Google Public Policy
(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog)
We know that technologies like the "v-chip" can be used to keep kids from seeing inappropriate content on TV. And while technology has an important role to play in protecting kids online, it's as important that parents implant a symbolic "v-chip" in their children's minds to guide them when it comes to deciding what online content is and is not appropriate.
That was one of the observations I shared this week at the Family Online Safety Institute's conference in Washington, D.C. The Internet provides an amazing opportunity for young people to express themselves creatively and access immense quantities of useful information. Kids are using geospatial, mobile and social networking technologies, for example, to learn in new, interactive ways. The Internet also provides unparalleled opportunities for free expression, enabling kids and adults alike to deliver tremendous benefit to society by voicing sometimes unpopular, inconvenient, or controversial opinions.
At the same time, there is some online content and activity that is unsuitable for younger users. Google is dedicated to supporting parents' efforts to educate and protect their children when they go online. We've invested in developing family safety tools that empower parents to limit what online content their children can discover. Our SafeSearch filter, which users can adjust to block explicit content from their search results, is an example of this type of technology.
On YouTube, where we host user-generated content, we aim to offer a community for free expression that is suitable for teens and protects them from exploitation. Our work to keep YouTube safe for teens includes clear policies about what is and is not acceptable on the site; robust mechanisms to enforce these policies, such as easy tools for users to police the content by flagging inappropriate videos; innovative product features that enable safe behavior; and YouTube safety tips.
We've also partnered with child safety organizations, including CommonSense Media, i-Safe, iKeepSafe, NetFamilyNews, and, of course, the Family Online Safety Institute to increase awareness about online child safety. In addition, we cooperate with law enforcement and industry partners to combat child exploitation and help minimize the uploading of illegal content, offering training and technical assistance to law enforcement officials and providing groups like the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children with technology tools to help them be more effective in their work.
Keeping children safe on the Web is the shared responsibility of parents and families, educators, industry, and government. We have a shared responsibility to help teach children the media literacy skills they need to become savvy online and offline information consumers and, working together, we believe this goal is attainable.