The latest on the impact of age-based settings

October 19, 2021

Now that the age restriction policies have rolled out, let’s regroup and see how everything shook out. We’ll review what happened, the expected behaviors of services, what’s still coming, and what these changes mean for our Google environment.

Since September 1st, users not marked as 18 or older started to have a more restrictive experience in their managed Google account. As Admins found out, the rollout of this change was not an immediate switch and, for many, happened slowly at different times for users even in the same organizational unit (OU).

Users not marked as 18 or older are now experiencing two major changes:

  • Users have restrictions in some Google services (like *YouTube, Google Maps). Also, some services aren’t available anymore. See the full list of Google service restrictions.

  • Services without an “on” or “off” control are no longer available. There is no public list of these services but some include Chrome Remote Desktop, CoLab, Google Finance. Learn more about services that aren’t controlled individually.

Furthermore, there were changes that applied to all users:

  • Several Chrome policy defaults changed if they were left unset. Most notably, incognito mode was disabled for teachers. Solution: configure those policies to “allow”.

  • The YouTube service status (ON/OFF) behavior changed. If you have YouTube set to “off”, no users of any age will be able to access YouTube.com or YouTube apps.

  • The Chrome Webstore service status (ON/OFF) behavior changed. If the Chrome Web Store is turned “off”, no users of any age will be able to access the Chrome Web Store in a signed-out state or download extensions from it.

For more context, check out my previous post about the changes.

Why did this happen?

Google Admins may be thinking, “what a mess!” or “what is Google thinking? And at the beginning of the school year nonetheless?!” You’re not alone. But here’s the thing: this is a good chance to ensure staff and students are in a safe and secure environment.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, Google is reinforcing 3 key principles

  • Secure by default 

  • Private by design

  • You’re in control

Being responsible for all users’ security in K-12 education is a challenge. We want to say “yes” to teachers and make things easy for everyone. Trying to explain the security risk to a teacher via email who is on their 15 minute lunch break and is just trying to teach students is not easy. This often leads to not enforcing security best practices.

But as Scott Starr, Application Specialist from Redlands Unified School (CA), states: “I am all for growth but not at the expense of exposing student information to the world.”

And as James Hatz, Technology Coordinator from Rush City Public Schools (MN), states “Doesn’t make me always popular…most understand – after you explain reasons. Some…you have to explain to over and over…just be patient and kind.”

These foundational age restriction policies are an important and necessary step for our Google Workspace for Education environments.

Great news – Google services are coming to the console!

All primary Google Admins should have received an email from Google on October 4th with the subject title “New Admin Controls for Google Arts & Culture, Google Translate, Google News, and Voice Match & Face Match for Google Assistant”.

In the coming weeks, you will be able to turn the following services on or off for users:

  • Google Arts & Culture

  • Google Translate

  • Google News

  • Voice Match and Face Match subsetting (when Search and Assistant is enabled)

Diving deeper into the YouTube changes

Expected behaviors: 

  • YouTube redirecting to YouTube Kids — This was not and is not the intended behavior. This is now resolved.

  • If YouTube is ON — (Students) Users not marked as 18 or older can go to youtube.com & view videos. They cannot create channels or upload videos. Full restrictions here.

  • If YouTube is ON — Users marked as 18 or older can access and use YouTube as they always have.

  • *If YouTube is OFF — All users can’t access YouTube.com or the YouTube apps.

  • Students that have YouTube set to “off” will still be able to view embedded YouTube videos assigned in Workspace for Education products (including Google Classroom).

*A game-changer for some schools

Why is that a game-changer? Because for some schools, they have been asking Google for a way to turn off YouTube and put the power into teachers’ hands to approve videos by using them in Classroom. This is essentially doing that. This approach works best for teachers who “live” in Google (versus embedding video into other LMS).

Understanding these age restriction policies is important for Google Admins but it’s also important to communicate the “what” and “why” to other key stakeholders. It’s a great conversation starter between technology and instructional departments.

To stay up to date with critical changes and their impact, check out our Google Technical Collaborative by being our guest at our next monthly Google Updates live stream or get started today with a quote!

 


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About the Author

Melissa Benson, Google for Education Technical Collaborative Lead
Melissa has been a Google Workspace for Education Consultant for CDW Amplified for Education since 2015. She began working with the Google for Education (GFE) Admin console in 2008 where she helped implement and integrate Google Workspace and Chromebooks into multiple K-12 school districts. Now, as part of the CDW Amplified for Education Team, she continues to help schools set up and manage Google Workspace environments with educational best practices with an emphasis on facilitating the North American Google Technical Collaborative.

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