Google+ is now officially welcoming teenagers and tailoring the experience of the social networking site for them by making it more restrictive and potentially safer.
Since its introduction last June, Google+ had banned users younger than 18 from joining the site. On Thursday, Google Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz said that the site would begin allowing children as young as 13 to join the site now that it has established some new safeguards that it hopes provides a more protected online environment. However, Facebook has the same age requirement.
Be that as it may, teens who sign up with their real ages at Google+ will have a user experience that features special safeguards intended to prevent them from “over sharing” and to protect them from strangers with bad intentions.
For example, Google+ will display a warning whenever a teen user tries to share content — photos, videos, posts — publicly with everyone on the site, instead of just with the hand-selected people they have on their contact lists, which are known as Circles in Google+.
In addition, people who aren’t in a teen’s Circles will not be able to contact them via the site.
Also, in the video chat Hangouts feature of Google+, teen participants will be booted from the session when someone outside of their Circles joins, and then given a chance to re-join if they wish.
“In life, for instance, teens can share the right things with just the right people (like classmates, parents or close ties). Over time, the nuance and richness of selective sharing even promotes authenticity and accountability,” Horowitz wrote. “Sadly, today’s most popular online tools are rigid and brittle by comparison, so teens end up over-sharing with all of their so-called ‘friends.”
In addition, Google has launched a new Google+ Safety Center with tips for teens and parents to prevent unwanted behavior.