Google+ and Teens – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Google+ has rolled out the welcome mat for teens, but as parents you still want to make sure you have a full understanding of what that means for your child. When Google launched Google+ in 2010 it was for adults only, and now it’s open to children who are 13 or older. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s Product VP for Google+ said, “We want to help teens build meaningful connections online. We also want to provide features that foster safety alongside self-expression. Today we’re doing both, for everyone who’s old enough for a Google Account (13+ in most countries).”

Your child will still have the ability to create circles of friends, classmates, family, team members, etc., but there are some additional safeguards for teens. The safeguards are intended to protect your child from predators and from sharing too much information.

Some of the safeguards that have been added include:

  • If your child tries to share content (posts, videos, photos, etc.) publicly with everyone on Google+, they will receive a warning stating that people outside of their circles will have the ability to view the information.
  • Only people in your child’s circle can comment on their posts or contact them via the site.
  • Only people in your child’s circle can see information about “who they are.”
  • In the hangout feature of Google+, if someone outside of your child’s circle joins their video chat, your child will be pulled out of the hangout and asked if they want to continue.

Although the safeguards are in place, many of the decisions are left up to your children. If your child is going to join Google+ it definitely should be a family decision where the parent is ultimately communicating the rules of social media. More information about Google+ safety features, practices, and policies can be found on Google’s Safety Center.

Regardless of any safeguards, open communication and clear expectations are the best safeguards for your children!

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