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 being reinforced in the Admin console with the new age-based setting. With this new setting, Admins must configure the new age-based setting by September 1st to avoid teachers and staff losing access to some Google services and functionalities.
Amplified IT’s Melissa Benson and Stephen Gale run through the changes and what needs actioned before September 1st in this video:
Google launched a new age-based setting in the Admin console that will allow 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 1st, all users (in a K12 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
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 8/24/21 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 full YouTube restrictions. Action: use Google takeout to save content prior to September 1st.
But wait, there’s more!
Google also announced changes to K12 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 youtube.com or access the Chrome Web Store. This one actually 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 – it’s critical that you have all 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 29th and August 5th. The sender is firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 that can be 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.
Amplified IT’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.
Google for Education Technical Collaborative Lead
About the Author:
Melissa has been a Google Workspace for Education Consultant for Amplified IT 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 Amplified IT 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.