On Thursday afternoon, Google+ announced that the rapidly growing social network is now available to teens ages 13 and up. Although minors can sign up for and use Google+, the social network also introduced new privacy and security changes designed to protect underage users.
Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP of products, said the following of the new target demographic in a Google+ post:
“Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet. And surprise, surprise: they’re also human beings who enjoy spending time with friends and family. Put these two things together and it’s clear that teens will increasingly connect online.”
The launch of the new Google+ Safety Center includes the following parental control features for teen accounts:
When a teen tries to share content with someone outside their circle, Google+ will encourage them to think responsibly.
The default setting only allows the teen to share with people that are in their circles and blocking someone they don’t know only takes on click.
Hanging out with friends—
Since Google+ Hangouts enable people to use video to connect face-to-face, Google+ will remove a teen when a stranger joins the Hangout. However, the teen can rejoin the Hangout if they choose to.
In addition to an explanation of the Google+ security features for underage users, the Google+ Safety Center also provides valuable resources to teens, parents, and educators. For example, teens can find helpful information related to digital reputation and online bullying.
Google+, which has approximately 90 million registered users, is undoubtedly hoping that the number of registered users will increase dramatically as a result of making the network available to underage users. Although the social network has grown at an unprecedented pace, it faces an uphill battle against Facebook, which has over 800 million users.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, users had to 18 or older to join Google+.