Age-based settings: Avoiding access-loss to services

During Google’s Anywhere School Event, they doubled down on Safer learning with Google for Education with 3 key principles: Secure by default, Private by design, and you’re in control. As Google Admins, we’re seeing these important principles reinforced in the Admin console with the new age-based setting. Admins must configure the age-based setting by September 1, 2021 to avoid teachers and staff losing access to some Google services and functionalities.

CDW Amplified for Education’s Melissa Benson and Stephen Gale run through the changes and what needs actioning before September 1, 2021 in this video:

What’s new?

Google launched a new age-based setting in the Admin console that allows you to indicate which users in your domain are 18 years or older by either Organizational Unit (OU) or Access Group. Starting September 1st, users not marked as 18 years or older will have a *more restricted experience (*see below for more details).

Action Required: Google Admins must indicate which users are 18 years or older. If no action is taken by September 1, 2021, all users (in a K-12 designated domain) will default to the under 18 restricted experience. Admins can still configure the setting at any time.

Navigation to setting

Account > Account settings > Age-based access settings


Best practice

We recommend that Admins select the granular OUs that contain users 18 years or older and apply All users are 18 or older.

*What does this more restricted experience (under 18 years of age) look like?

  • Access to Additional Google Services that have no individual control will be restricted. There is no official listing of these services available but includes services like Duo, Chrome Remote Desktop, Chromecast, and Google Certifications.

    Note: As of August, 24, 2021, Arts and Culture has been seen in the Additional Services list but has since gone away. Admins need to keep an eye on the status and we will update as we go.

  • Some Additional Google Services functionality will be more restricted.

    • For example, users under 18 will no longer have access to their YouTube channel, including features such as uploading videos or posting comments. See the YouTube restrictions.

    • Action: Use Google takeout to save content before September 1, 2021.

But wait, there’s more!

Google also announced changes to K-12 domains that affect all users.

Chrome policy defaults are changing

The following will be ON/OFF by default — SafeSearch ON, SafeSites ON, Incognito Mode OFF, Guest Mode OFF. If Admins have already configured these settings, there will be no change and Admins can change these settings at any time.

YouTube and Chrome Web Store services status behavior changes

If the YouTube or Chrome Web Store service is OFF, no users of any age will be able to go to or access the Chrome Web Store. This one makes sense and was always odd in the way it worked. 

Note: Even if students have YouTube OFF, they can still view embedded videos in workspace services (Classroom, slides)

Other recommended proactive actions

  • Review and clean up your Organizational Units. You must have of the adults in their proper OUs.

  • Review the service status of YouTube and the Chrome Web Store.

  • Locally apply any of the Chrome policies you’d like for staff. I can see some schools wanting to ALLOW incognito for staff.

  • Use Google Takeout to save any data for those under 18 (YouTube is the big one).

Need more context?

While we’ve linked to important help documents and the blog post that set the stage for this critical new setting and changes, there is no straightforward public announcement on the impact. I highly recommend that Admins look for the two emails sent to the primary Admin on June 29 and August 5, 2021. The sender is Both emails include loads of information that I have disseminated into an easier-to-understand format (this post).

While potentially disruptive if you were unaware of the new setting and changes, these changes help Admins build a safe and secure learning environment for teachers and students.

This change is an example of important updates easily overlooked and missed in Google announcements and blog posts. Since this is a time-sensitive change that requires actions, you need to make sure that Google news is reviewed and clarified to understand the impact it can have on your domain. 

CDW Amplified for Education’s Google Technical Collaborative supports Google Admins and becomes an extension of your IT team by providing the help they need to stay on top of the latest in Google for Education.



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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