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Parents and caregivers: Set limits for violence and more with Plus
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Google’s free social networking site and messaging tool makes adding friends as easy as emailing them -- or just accepting the recommended contacts from the service itself. Google's attempt to compete with the increasingly popular Facebook offers many of the same features and network-expanding focus of Facebook. However, there is concern -- just as there is with Facebook -- over a lack of privacy controls, primarily because it automatically integrates its web-based email program, Gmail, with Buzz, meaning anyone with a gmail account becomes part of the social network. Parents, make sure your teen selects “private” settings and opts out of showing the list of people they’re following and those who are following them.
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Is it any good?
Google’s social networking site has many of the same features as Facebook -- as well as similar privacy concerns. It’s easy to use, but lacks some of the polish other social sites have. Users can post information, connect, and share photos, videos, and links privately or publicly. Users need only an email address from Gmail (Google’s web-based email system) along with a public Google profile that -- at minimum -- includes a first and last name. Profiles can be expanded to include photos and additional information. Friends are added anytime you email them via Gmail, and content from friends of friends may be automatically added to a stream even if they’re not acquainted.
Online interaction: There are no filters or moderators, and everything here is an online interaction so content can run the gamut depending on the users.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about appropriate use of social networking sites and what to do if they encounter inappropriate behavior.
How to stay safe online. Even though it’s fun to share information and updates about yourself, there are some ways to protect your privacy online.
How social networks can be fun, but real life personal relationships are important, too. How is your online network of friends different from your real group of friends? How are they different? Do you share the same things with both groups? Why or why not?
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