Google Opens its Generative AI Search Product to Teens
Google has announced that it is extending its generative AI search product to users aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. Previously, the search feature, called Search Generative Experience (SGE), was available only to users above 18 years old. However, teens had been using various AI products, including Google’s, for quite some time, often employing AI to help them ghost write school essays.
Although online age restrictions are easily bypassed as users self-report their ages, Google’s decision to prohibit teens from using the generative AI search product was likely made to avoid any potential PR nightmare. The company had faced backlash when its own chatbot, Bard, spread misinformation and hateful content. By introducing stricter safety measures and updates, Google aims to protect younger users from inappropriate or harmful content.
Opening the generative AI search product to a younger audience is a smart move for Google. Gen Zers and millennials are considered “super-users” of generative AI, accounting for 65% of total users. By including teens in their target audience, Google can expand its reach and potentially increase future profits in its AI ad business.
Google’s senior director of product, Hema Budaraju, stated in a blog post that teens can benefit from the helpful capabilities generative AI offers. However, Google will not employ ad targeting on teen users, aligning with the company’s policy of prohibiting age, gender, and interest-based targeting for users under 18.
Teens have access to various generative AI technologies beyond Google’s search product. With parental consent, they can use OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, Microsoft’s Bing AI, or Snap’s My AI, among others. Meta (formerly Facebook) has also recently announced new chatbots for Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger that replicate the personalities of celebrities.
To ensure a safer experience for teen users, Google has implemented stronger safeguards against illegal material, bullying, and age-restricted content. The company is also working on features that provide context to AI-generated responses and improve the technology’s response to offensive queries.
Overall, Google’s decision to open its generative AI search product to teens is driven by the desire to capture a wider user base, while also implementing measures to protect younger users from potential risks associated with AI technologies.