When I was first invited to the Google+ beta I attempted to invite as many of my friends as possible to join the social network with me. I was shocked however when one friend stated that she wouldn’t be able to create a profile, I assumed this was due to personal reasons but it ended up being because she was a few months younger than the minimum joining age of 18. At the time I instantly thought, “why are Google cutting out such a large portion of the potential market?” I then started to consider that they would need to provide a good first impression if they were to convert social network users from competitive companies; letting teenagers run loose on the new product wouldn’t exactly contribute to this initial ideal image and would most likely have a negative impact on the goal.
Times have quickly changed and Google are now enabling teenagers as young as 13 to also join the ever growing social network. There are obviously always concerns about younger ones being exposed to the social world of the internet but this update has been released along with the introduction of additional security features that will help keep both younger and older users’ privacy protected. Some of these features include:
- Sharing content – Teens will now be encouraged to consider their sharing decision when attempting to post outside of their circles, I imagine this will be in the form of some popup prompt asking the user whether they really want to do share the content to such a wide audience.
- Hanging out with friends – This one might prove frustrating for some users but basically whenever a stranger joins a hangout from outside a teen’s circles then that teen will be temporarily removed from the hangout in an attempt to protect their identity. It’s not ideal for the teen getting kicked out of a flowing conversation every time someone joins but I imagine many of you parents reading this wouldn’t be too happy with strangers seeing your child on a webcam either.
- Receiving notifications – Currently people outside your circles have the opportunity to communicate with you (unless your adjust your privacy settings). Teenagers by default will only be approachable by users who are already within their circles.