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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Google Hangouts are a way for kids, families, and teachers to communicate online for free. You can video chat, instant message, and share photos. However, to get the full range of offerings, you must sign up for Google+, Google's social networking tool. As with all social networking, kids' usage should be monitored, as there aren't any safeguards that keep it completely kid-friendly.
What's it about?
Google Hangouts are simply that: hangouts that occur online -- through text or video -- with friends, family, teachers, or anyone else in your network. Users can communicate with a single person, a group, or create a \"Hangout on Air\" to broadcast their video to the world. When you're signed in to Google (through Gmail, or one of their other sites), click on \"Try Hangouts;\" you'll be prompted to install a quick plugin onto your computer. Once that's done, it's easy to start a Hangout with someone: Simply hover over their name with the mouse; a small window pops up with clickable icons for a video, chat, or email. Hangouts can also be recorded and archived if you ever want to revisit a conversation or lesson.
Is it any good?
Google Hangouts are great! For kids who already use Gmail or Google+, getting acquainted with Google Hangouts should be pretty straightforward. Google knows how to make things user-friendly, and Hangouts is no exception; getting started is very intuitive. The ability to chat with up to 10 people at once is pretty exciting, and there's tons of potential, not only for families, but for school-related projects and group work as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Use Google Hangouts to create a family reunion of sorts; see if you can gather up to 10 family members for a five or ten-minute video chat. If it works, make it a monthly or weekly event.
Encourage your kids to use Google Hangouts for fun, but also as another way to stay connected with school. They can check in with classmates to talk about school-related stuff, quiz each other, find out about missing assignments, or anything else related to school. The possibilities are endless.
- Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, presenting to others, speaking
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, group projects
Communication: conveying messages effectively, listening, speaking
Thinking & Reasoning: asking questions, making conclusions, problem solving
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
- Genre: Video Sites
- Pricing structure: Free
For kids who love working together with friends
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.