A Google-related story of how I’m going to have to lie in order to get the service I signed up and pay for, and how abysmal the age controls are.
YT Music hates my kids
I have a YouTube Music Premium subscription. This is not what I signed up for, I’d signed up a long time ago for a Google Play Music account and you know, other than it being a complete idiotic switch to YouTube Music (lack of playlist support, serious bugs,) the switch seemed mostly painless and Home Playlist support was added fairly quickly.
Cut to a year later. I’ve got a 5 year old (turning 6 in a few days,) and an 8 year old. Each has their own bedtime music. Each able to ask a device to play some music and get it.
This started with Minecraft and Roblox. Each wanted their own account. OK, done. I get it, I really do. The stuff they do in Minecraft is the stuff of Lego Legends. Roblox, not so much but whatever, they need some down time.
They also wanted to play against and with each other on said accounts. Done. Got it gamer kiddos. You’ve got like 30 minutes a day that’s not school, camp, activity, eating, bathing, you want to log into a game and not have your sister’s farting unicorn head and have to figure out where she put the games. Got it. Profiles done. I have no problem with this.
Took a couple of old phones, the Google accounts they’d set up, set up family link and restrictions, all seemed set. We did a quick training on voice to hopefully get it to recognize which kiddo was talking and because my 5yo likes asking “hey google, what’s my name” and getting back “fart butt fart”… she’s talented like that.
And last night at bedtime, each one of them asked the Google Home minis for their bedtime music and was told no by Google. I could ask it to play, they could not. We could ask it to play music on Spotify, not on YT Music.
Yeah, turns out the other thing that happened when they transition from Google Play Music to YT Music is they locked out anyone under 13. As there was no voice match for my kids, they came in as guests evidently. To be clear, anyone of any age can ask my Google products to play music and it will under my account, but if your voice is recognized and you’re under 13 forget it.
I asked support about this, it’s known, it’s been known for a while. My options here are to change their ages, exposing them to wildly inappropriate garbage, remove voice matching for them (probably what I’m going to do,) or use a different music service such as Spotify Premium.
Great job on that filter, Google
I’d done a little legwork making sure my kids couldn’t access anything wildly inappropriate. I couldn’t access any porn sites, searches seemed to return things well, apps seemed to be returning kid appropriate things. But then something happened.
My 8yo asked why it wasn’t letting her install an app. I looked and it was a 10+ app, the reviews were mostly one star reviews talking about how it’s nothing but sexually suggestive garbage.
It’s rated 10+ so I wondered how she even got to it.
She got to it from an ad in a kid’s game (game was appropriate, ad was wildly not) – basically the ad was, and I’ll have to describe it because I didn’t screenshot it: cartoon man with an erection under a blanket with cartoon woman looking at it and the title “what’s under the blanket?” and the request to rub it to find out.
I am going to stress that this happened in the first 10 minutes of my child on a new to her device on a kid profile that had no browse/app history. Here’s the game as a note.
I don’t know what app my kiddo was in that served her the ad, I don’t know what ad network it was using.
Oh as a note, you might think I’m picking and choosing the bad comments to agree with me. Those are, with the exception of two that were unrelated, the top reviews. They’ve been doing this, advertising to kids, it’s been reported based on other reviews.