What It Is:
Google+ (pronounced “Google-plus”) is the social networking platform created by the tech company Google.
What It Does:
Google+ functions in a way similar to Facebook, in that you have your own page on the platform where you can post video, photos, text, and the like, then share it either publicly or with your friends.
Google+ also allows you to group your friends into specific categories called “circles,” and then share your posts among those specific circles.
Beyond the social aspect of Google+, the platform also provides what Google calls a “social layer” to some of Google’s other products, including Gmail and comments on YouTube (which is owned by Google). Basically, when you create an account for any Google service, you’ve also created a Google+ profile.
Google+ also allows for easy video chatting through “Google Hangouts.” Google+ users can connect with one another over a streaming video connection through a Hangout.
Hashtags are also integrated into the Google+ experience.
Would My Child Want It?:
If your child has a Google ID (necessary for Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, or any of the other Google products), then they already have Google+. They may just not know it.
Google+ does not, at the moment, seem to be in demand among young people. Kids want to be where other kids are, and other kids are not really on Google+ right now. That may change in the future (especially if Google Glass takes off), but for the time being, it’s a safe bet that your child is not clamoring for full access to their Google+ page.
Google+ has a minimum age requirement of 13.
Where Can It Be Used?:
Google+ can be accessed through any internet browser, and a mobile app is also available.
What Should I Watch Out For?:
- Since Google+ is powered by Google, an internet search engine, Google+ can open out onto the regular, unfiltered web.
- Within Google+ is the “explore” tab, which searches across all of Google+ for your query, an open door to porn, etc.
- Google keeps track of all activity within Google+, eventually turning that data into money-making information.
- All social media is a target for scams, hoaxes, and spammers, and Google+ is no exception.
- Google+ pads out content in your stream with “recommended” content from outside sources.
- Interaction on Google+ is not the same thing as face-to-face interaction.
- Google+ allows comments, meaning your child may be exposed to bullying, hate speech, or solicitations/endorsements for adult content.
What Are The Positives?:
- Google+ provides a way for social interaction within the world of Google.
- Google recently converted the comments section on YouTube to an extension of Google+, thus making it less desirable for internet trolls to leave salacious or hateful comments.
What Are The Negatives?:
- Data mining.
- Just like Facebook, Google+ and poor judgment do not go well together. Future employers and college admissions officers can and will review all social media platforms that your child has been involved in/on. If they’ve posted anything untoward, it will likely be found out.
- Easy access to adult content.
What We Think:
Google+, while possibly tangentially beneficial, is a little worrisome. Its universality across all Google platforms makes it equally helpful and harmful, but your kids are probably not all that interested in being on it. We cannot give it our full endorsement.