A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Messages will depend entirely upon who is in your circles and what sort of content users choose to share. Even though there are rules about content and there is a "report abuse" option for rule violations such as hate speech and pornographic material, parents should still be aware that some of the content that falls within the rules may not be suitable for teens. Teens can easily remove negative or unwanted comments that other users post on their posts.
Violence & Scariness
Teens' exposure to violent content will depend upon what people in their circles choose to post and what sorts of content teen users decide to search for. The Google+ content policy states that users are not to post anything that is considered bullying, gratuitous violence, or that contains "hatred or violence towards groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity." There is a "report abuse" option for rule-violating content.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The Google+ content policy states users are not to post anything content that "presents children in a sexual manner" or any images containing "nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material," including profile pictures. Rules prohibit driving traffic to commercial pornography sites from Google+ accounts. There is a "report abuse" option for rule-violating content.
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Potential exposure to inappropriate language will depend entirely upon what sort of language the people in a user's circles choose to post. There are no rules prohibiting specific words, but rather a blanket rule against hate speech.
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Products & Purchases
Teens can choose to add brand pages to their circles on Google+. Beginning in March 2012, Google will share user data from Google+ with other Google services such as Gmail and YouTube. Google uses this data to target advertising at users based on their activity across the services. Users can opt out of targeted, interest-based advertising, but there is no way to opt out of the sharing across Google services.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The content policy does prohibit posting anything containing illegal activity (illegal drug use and underage alcohol consumption and smoking should fall under that rule), but that would not prohibit posting images of or content about drinking alcohol or smoking among those users of legal age.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the Google+ social network is now open for teens, with some privacy tweaks for teen accounts and a new Google+ safety guide for teens. Just as with adult users, teens have the ability to limit who sees certain posts by "circles" -- friends, acquaintances, work, and general public circles for example. Google+ will automatically remind teens about who may be seeing their post if their posting on public or extended circles, and the company created age-appropriate privacy default settings for any users who are known to be teenagers by their site registration information. The education component includes a blog that highlights safety content, frequently asked questions, and links to other organizations concerned with Internet safety to help promote teen social networking safety and smart use, as well as provide answers for parents and teens new to Google+ about its features. The parent section includes content from Common Sense Media. Google+ also encourages the use of their features for users that allow teens to report abuse, block people, and remove negative comments from their posts. Still, teens will need to use the same caution they do with sharing on other social networks -- remembering that putting anything onto the Internet has the potential to stay there forever.
Is It Any Good?
Google+ attempts to improve on Facebook's friend concept, incorporates Twitter-ish features, and includes group video and chat features with Hangouts. Privacy settings are customizable, and the core idea is that circles give users more control about what they share and with whom. While Google+ makes it easier to group contacts into Circles, it's still somewhat difficult to navigate, and teens haven't flocked to the site as some had speculated.
Initially, the inclusion of teen users on Google+ raised a lot of questions about how teens might use the site: How would each specific feature play out (will people like instant video chat or find it intrusive)? Would the teen privacy, safety, and education features be effective in creating a safer, more teen-appropriate social networking environment than others? How would the data sharing across Google services affect the teen experience concerning marketing and advertising? And, of course, would Google+ grow to become Facebook's top social network rival?
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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