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Google+: new safety enhancements, now available for teens

Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet [1]. And surprise, surprise: they're also human beings who enjoy spending time with friends and family. Put these two things together and it's clear that teens will increasingly connect online. Unfortunately, online sharing is still second-rate for this age group.

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. 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.”

With Google+, we want to help teens build meaningful connections online. We also want to provide features that foster safety alongside self-expression. Today we're doing both, for everyone who’s old enough for a Google Account (13+ in most countries [2]).

Safety starts with your circles
The difference between friends, acquaintances and strangers is a crucial one—especially for teens. Google+ includes circles to help people manage their different relationships, but we’re going a step further for our younger users.

Sharing content
With Google+ you can share privately with your circles, or publicly with the world. Posting something for everyone to see is a big deal, however, so when teens try and share outside their circles, we encourage them to think before they post. [Screenshot #1]

Receiving notifications
Google+ is a great place to connect with close friends, as well as discover others with common interests. We want to help people explore the community safely, however, so we give users control over who can contact them online. By default, only those in teens’ circles can say hello, and blocking someone is always just a click or two away. [Screenshot #2]

Hanging out with friends
Google+ Hangouts bring people together using live multi-person video, and the results range from heartwarming [3] to awe-inspiring [4]. However, we recognize that connecting face-to-face is special and serious, so if a stranger outside a teen’s circles joins the hangout, we temporarily remove the young adult, and give them a chance to rejoin. [Screenshot #3]

Our newly launched Google+ Safety Center [5] describes these and other changes in more detail, but our approach is straightforward: build awesome features that teens really want, encourage safe behavior through appropriate defaults and in-product help, and make abuse reporting tools easy to find and use.

People and pages for the young(er) at heart
The joy of real-life sharing lies in connecting with everything we care about—from family and friends, to businesses and brands. Teens, like adults, deserve a rich experience online, so today we’re welcoming some of their favorite individuals and organizations to the Google+ community. [6]

Between strong user protections and teen-focused content, it’s our hope that young adults will feel at home (and have some fun) on Google+. And of course, we do have at least one thing in common with our newest users: we’re both busy growing up.

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#googleplusupdate

[1] http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/material/ICTFactsFigures2011.pdf
[2] http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1350409
[3] Google+: Just hanging out together
[4] Highlights from the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu Google+ Hangout
[5] http://www.google.com/+/safety
[6] +106 and Park +A THIN LINE +AKB48 +Ashley Tisdale +Big Time Rush +Cody Simpson +ESPN +GLEE +Greyson Chance +Google Science Fair +Harry Shum Jr +The Hunger Games +Lea Michele +Mindless Behavior +Nickelodeon +Scotty McCreery +Selena Gomez +Shay Mitchell +Teen Vogue +The Annoying Orange +Material Girl Collection +Victoria Justice +Young Hollywood
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125 comments
 
Awesome. You took your time, but you did it the right way.
 
[2] Still says "For instance, Google+ requires users to be 18 or older."
 
Good to see that extra measures were added for under 18.

That 90 million will shoot up higher and faster now.
 
How do I change the birthday for an account that was incorrectly created?
 
This is terrific. Will this pave the way for Google+ being made available for K12 district using Google Apps? This would be an incredible resource for our staff and teachers.
 
haha some adults I know still act like kids and get themselves into trouble like them too :)
 
Can someone confirm that teens between 13-18 now can register in G+ to?
 
+Chris Uhlik After an initial 30 day grace period, your birthday can never be changed in the Google Universe.
 
+Bradley Horowitz Whenever we create a keyword using ' # ' Tag, is it essential to keep the ' # ' always attached with the word. It doesn't look Good.
 
+Bradley Horowitz Quick question. For #3, when you say "remove", do you mean merely mute the camera and microphone, and retain the teen's place in the hangout (meaning if the hangout is about to get full of 10 people, the teen still has a reserved seat), or completely kicking him out of the hangout?
 
goodie, then I can spread the news! lets hope k12 apps users will get it too soon then... want to have hangouts with my students!
 
So people under 18 can suscribe to a google account yes or not?..
 
+Bradley Horowitz ... So, rather than making like the "Pages" where you can toggle between 18+, 21+ and everyone, you'd like us all to post only PG items public and use our circles for sharing anything else? This just will not go well. At all.
 
question from a teen/adult - what are the rules for the public stuff for us? Is it like facebook?
 
Hey Bradley? How come those pics you uploaded have that nice shadow right under them?
 
Not all teens are bad... and the bad ones we can put them in a circle and choose not to see the stuff they show us. xD
 
+Bradley Horowitz I like that kids are getting on G+, but I think kids are not savvy enough to understand the import of public posts. Wouldn't it have been simpler to cripple public posting for under18s to create a firewall based on circles.
 
+Steve Daley , nice point, under 16 they should be able to post only to Extended Circles, after 16 they should be able to post Public. :)
 
ok, but I have a kid too and I sort of am interested if they're doing things here in New Jersey that I, quite frankly, am uncomfortable with.
 
+Bradley Horowitz With your use of the [Screenshot #1], [Screenshot #2] etc. does it not feel like we need a little more richer wiki support for Images, URLs and Lists so that we could have multiple inline images?

BTW, nice feature. I have to keep reminding some of the photographers here that they could post their adult contents but not to the public, otherwise, I will keep flagging for abuse. This feature will be handy.
 
+Steve Daley Let's not be overprotective here. When I was a teenager in the 90's there wasn't anything that stopped me from hopping on Angelfire, Geocities, or Xoom and making a web page where I posted "publicly". There still isn't anything preventing a teen from making a personal web page today (it's just a less popular thing to do, compared to social networks). So, crippling the service doesn't seem like the right course of action.
 
Yeah, there could be some kind of (+18 only) option for posts, so that it remains hidden from underage people.
 
well, google, now that I have you here - I want to well, as a responsible adult I sort of want to just know what my kid is doing. listen - he uses an adroid (so does everyone here at school, although they used to use Blackberrys). So how do I get a hold of my kid's info? how do I tap that android? can I appeal to google directly to get access to it?
 
G+ just keeps getting more and more awesome! Face- what?

Now may I invite everyone to gather around, hold hands, and enjoy this serene calmness while the horde of Biebers & vampires are still rowing their way up the stream.
 
Excellent news. They are the future shapers of the on-line social world. We obviously need to nuture their introduction, but I believe G+ is a safer place due to the original real names policy. The numbers of Hangouts are going to explode!
 
+Tyler McHenry agree, the last thing we want is overprotected kids. But crippling public posting means that kids can share with thousands in circled and even extended circles. I don't want some silly comments a kid posts when they're 14 to be publicly archived.
 
no, ok, I'm really a responsible adult (you can look me up). I just have a tendency to want to KNOW what my kid's doing (what he's texting, what he's viewing, what he's saying, etc.). I'm not saying I'm going to turn him into the cops or anything but as a concerned parent I think I have the right to want access into my own device through your system. Since you're google and made the android, I want to put the blame squarely on you as a parent!!!!!
 
+Pat Thompson as a responsible parent I don't want to be snooping on my daughter's private conversations and activities.
 
ah, got it. But steve, I sort of disagree with you. I'm also the type of parent who likes to call the cops a lot and used to bust up parties for people like me doing things that we shouldn't of. Now how can I trust that googlers (I don't even know who's real here) share with me some of these views? I'm sort of paranoid and have watched X-Files too much so I distrust everything government related. I also sort of distrust big bad google still. but I'm having trouble linking google and parents and teens - like, google for me is like the NSA used to be growing up. ahhhh!!!! who do I trust? And yes, I know your common counter-argument, I'm a schizo, don't trust me. Believe me, I can see right through that one. So you're gonna have to come up with a better one than that :)
 
+Bradley Horowitz +Steve Daley I totally disagree with public content available by and to those under 18 as well. I also think that no PUBLIC hangouts should be available to teens.
 
Great for teens.. now these needs to be marketed to parents... so they feel more secure...
 
+Linda Lawrey that's a bit OTT. Let's not cripple the liberty of kids to discover and explore.
 
Congrats +Google+ team for your efforts to guarantee a safe network for teens!
 
Having recently played with the windows family safety stuff and the power it gives. I really want to see something similar for android and chrome.
 
Thank you .. my son is also here 19 years old but a serious musician and geek aprentice and programmer.. I hope he will be able to increase interest among similar interest people .. He is sad because almost noone circle him hehe
 
Yes finally, thanks guys. Been waiting for this since day one XD
 
sorry stupid idea, don't do X-files. Trust must be built I guess slowly with the consent of us parents.
 
+Bradley Horowitz : Thank you! Please provide a way to change birthdates in accounts. Ask for proof, like you do in cases when profiles are wrongly tagged to be under 13, but please do it. My other account would be locked (for 4 years!) in teen mode otherwise!
 
Definitely my favorite G+ update yet. Keep up the great work!
 
Alright, this is really weird. What's this HYPE is about? Two practically standard social meida perks and one very annoying muting.

Imagine yourself in a middle of a conversation and oops! G+ just blacked you out in the middle of the most aweome speech you could ever say. Awkward.

Wouldn't selective muting be better?

What I mean is: a hangout is in session, you talk, someone joins the hangout and they're outside your circles. G+ temporarily mutes you only for that person - only that peson can't see or hear you. And you get a large notification - "There's a stranger in the hangout now" and a big red button "Keep me muted for them". So you can see who joined and decide if you want them to see/hear you without interruption your conversation. And if you don't push the button - G+ should allow that person to see and hear you after that initial temporary muting. Seamlees.
 
+Bradley Horowitz I agree with +Linda Lawrey , please no public hangout availability for teens, and block posting to public. And also please add an Icon to their hovercard so that teens are clearly identified as such, maybe a colored big T.
 
I really really hope that this step will push G+ to get rid of all non-appropriate for teens content here. Some sites has to flagged to be for 18+.
 
+Bradley Horowitz What's your plan on letting this be known outside of Google+. To say, the Parents and such? It's all great within G+ this will spread like butter. Maybe something on the Main Google page?
 
+Bradley Horowitz Is there going to be some indicator to those profiles whose holders are under 18 years old? I'm just curious because there will be topics that nobody wants underage people to participate into them. For example I have Beer circle, that you have to ask to be included in it. How can I be sure that person asking to be included in my circles is over 18 years old?

And there are people who talk about other things unsuitable for younger ears...
 
Google should add channels... besides circles...
Each user's channel may have different topics...
So i can set a channel as +18, and leave my other channels as open for anybody

This would also separate my personal posts to my "specialized posts"...
 
it would be a mash up of groupme/path
 
don't really know where to post my thoughts on marketing to help google at all...sorry for the stupid ideas.
 
Most teens don't care about privacy, what they want is to be wherever all of their friends are (i.e. Facebook.) G+ probably isn't that place yet, but maybe one day...
Angel A
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I like the idea of designating them as under 18. Some states do that with drivers license's (and for under 21 as well). But this a good site and I learned a lot from reading it.
 
We need a better[1] way to link[2] words to relevant hyperlinks[4] without making up our own version of wikipedia pages [citation needed]. :D
 
I hope Google+ will add "friend tools" like counterpart of fb wall, some virtual post-it notes. Any tools that are exclusive for mutual relationship
 
Justin Bieber, Twilight, and One Direction infest the What's Hot page in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
 
I'm not one to try and tell others how to parent their children. But I am a staunch believer that those under 18 should NOT ever be given smartphones. If it were up to me kids could not have anything more than a simple voice only device with parental controls. High school is tough enough.
 
13+ Welcome to Google+ ♥
 
+Scott Jordan ... that's not a good move...

I don't think there will be lack of quality on G+...

There are nice teens... the bad ones you can move them to a circle and choose to not see posts from that circle, I have that circle called Garbage. xD

And in terms of security, Google made a good job, giving instuments so G+ can be a friendly social network to them, instead of Lamebook, that doesn't have any control for them.
 
Hey, you kids had better KEEP THE NOISE DOWN!!! Don't make me whack you whippersnappers with my cane... ;)
(Welcome.)
 
My six year old wants an account, and if I could let her have one in a strictly parent-controlled, privacy-lockdown way, I would. She mostly wants to be able to play Triple Town and Angry Birds, but there'd be value in her teacher having a circle of students for outside-of-school discussions (she goes to a gifted school so they skew a bit odd in terms of communications already).
 
Why wall off the kids... Whatever you are trying to hide, I promise, they are exposed to in school or other online activities...
 
Am I the only person who has doubts about this? For example, today someone circled me so I added him to my circles. I have nothing against what was on his page but some of the images were definitely not suitable to a 13 hear old.
 
I believe there are legal restrictions around the age of 13 in the US for online services. That's why its a common limit.
 
+Scott Jordan you could also make a circle, once you share you share to the circle 18+. If you now something shouldn't be seen by teens you should not post it public, cause in a web search that will show to everyone. ;)
 
See my comment up there... to my there should be channels... a user may have different channels (+18, personal, business)... whenever you share that not only share to a circle, but also to a channel...

That way you can have a personal channel, a busines channel, a +13 channel and a family channel
 
+James Pakele Circles says to whom you want to share...
But whenever you circle someone, you cannot choose what to "suscribe" to...
In this case, teens will only be able to suscribe to channels for teens and not for +18 channels
 
+Scott Jordan It's called get the password... I have the passwords to all my daughters accounts... Email, FaceBook, Twitter, everything... I have an app called PhoneControl on her Android phone that forwards all text messages and even all phone conversations... And check them regularly....
 
I see what you mean, like adding tags to post... That's been requested for a while... So that people can see a python programmers post regarding only Python and not they're personal stuff...

It really does complicate matters and won't have the effect you want to shield content from under those under 18 because it requires the poster to take the initiative... For one, only the responsible will do it, for two, the things the under 18 crowd will share amongst each other is probably going to be worse than what you are trying to shield them from...
 
when they grow up what happens to his account?
be restricted only some possibilities but do not have an interface different from that of adults
 
I’m glad to have my 13 year old son on G+ but more parental controls are needed. I’m sure you would not want 13 year olds on the road period so why would you think they can be on the information super highway without extensive parental controls?

As for warning pop ups, here’s the first link I came to when searching “science on teen brain development” http://headsup.scholastic.com/articles/the-science-of-the-teen-brain

Warnings are not enough when you are talking about 13 year old kids. Is there a warning that’s going to popup when my kid searches #streamc>>>Y? How can I prevent this type of search?

A conversation on more granular parental controls is not a conversation just for G+. It’s needed for all of Google.
 
+Mark Poole Great points, but it'll hard when people post pornographic images without even labeling them or restricting them to their circles. Comes up in my searches all the time. :(
 
yaaaaaaaaaay thanks Google <3 I was starting to hate you :(
 
+Mark Poole All you can do is educate the children, trying to shelter them is futile.... Just gather up all the passwords...
 
wasn't thinking like a responsible adult; sorry for the reposts. I just don't know WHO to send my ideas to. I realize this isn't the right forum for this.
 
You can’t educate most 13 year olds on something they are not mentally or physiologically prepared to learn. There’s a reason we have voting, drinking, and smoking ages.

I’m not trying to impose my point of view on anyone but I am asking for tools that allow me to do what I see as necessary.

“Can’t shelter them” and “gather up all of the passwords" seem to be in contradiction.

I know I can’t shelter them so I want to go along beside them but manually scrolling through streams full of contacts, post, and pictures could be made easier if I can control just how much access my kid has at one time. Many adults can't even exercise self control when it comes to internet access so there is little chance a 13 year old can without some sustained guidance.

I can automate when the wifi access is on and off based on age, device, date, and time. I’m just asking for that same level of parental control for my kids while they are out on the internet.

Google is a big place for a 13 year old to be hanging out with nothing but warnings to protect them.
 
Very important question: There are teens I know who have, let's say... adjusted their age to get on Google+. In light of these new changes, can they change their age to drop back down into the teen category, and have these features take effect?

Thanks for all you've done to make it easier to socialize with our more juvenile circle members! :)
 
Totally agree, but what for my 9 years old boy who owns a tablet? He likes to go on Wikipedia, he's now a bit old for Disney..

Like Company pages managed by an administrator account, kids accounts should be managed by a 'parent' account. So I can take the responsiblity (not Google directly) of what my boy can publicly share and with who..
 
Trying to cure the consequence, not the cause. Useless move.
Sai
 
+Bradley Horowitz Can you make the "mute me if someone outside joins" something that non-teens can set too? The other parts of their setup are just defaults or slightly different UI; this one seems to actually be a functionality difference.
 
Google+ would be good for schools, but it would be best if we can manage the settings much like we currently can do with Gmail, Docs, Sites, and other tools in our Google Apps for Education domain. With management options we may be able to teach responsible use of social media in a more structured environment much like many schools currently do with products like Edmodo.

See some more thoughts here: http://www.appsusergroup.org/news/is-google-plus-coming-to-k12-schools-soon
 
Why can't you create a 'teenager under 18 stream" similar to the separate games stream and have privacy controls built into it? With the amount of porn/creepers who follow at random, this is a horrid decision from my POV. I wouldn't let my child any where near Google+ unless there were controls as to who could follow him/her that we could both control. As for public hangouts open to teens, you have got to be kidding? What controls will there be to prevent nudity in that, and yes, there is nudity in hangouts at times?
 
IMHO one sure way to fix the whole under 18 problem with regards to safety / security / parent-rights to monitor, is to not allow under 18 registration at all. Instead require that an account that is 18+ create a "sub-account". From there google could setup & enforce parental control settings on all google services not just G+. However being realistic this wouldn't solve the problem of kids making accounts with a 18+ birthdate regardless of the AUP/ToS.
 
+Ardith Goodwin unless you have a way of ensuring everyone in the "under 18s" stream is under 18, and also not going to do anything unpredictable/stupid/offensive you should do what you should do in the rest of the world. Educate your kids about what is out there and how to make sensible decisions. The problem with apparently safe forums etc is that they are not. They just need someone to pretend they are someone else, but at the same time they provide a false sense of security.
The world is what it is, and if your, my, or anyone else's kids aren't ready for it alone or unsupervised they they need to be supervised or not alone.

Oh, and by "you" I don't just mean you, I mean you, dear reader. Not having a go :-)
 
+Chris Auton I realize that would be pretty hard. Google+ has done a great thing by asking for user input since it started, it is something I respect and value in this network. I simply wish they would have given us a chance to offer feedback on it before putting this plan in place. I just can't rightly promote a network to teens who I know 'could be' subjected to being followed by strangers with porn pics on their profile, which they then had to block, or to see nudity in a public hangout. There are predators here, as on any network, but after being followed a great deal and having to monitor that, it is not something I feel a 13 year old should have to do. I can't imagine having a 13 year old daughter join Google+ and when I viewed who had added her found men, lots of men, and some of them had porn for profiles. Yes, we would deal with it, but when there are other networks with better safety measures in place, why would we?
 
+Bradley Horowitz -- What will protect teens if a grown man whose a sex predator signs up on Google+ as a teen and then hits the hangouts to stroll for victims?? Will there be a default option that VIDEO must be used in "Teen" Hangouts on PLUS. We all know that people can easily go into a hangout without their video camera on and just chat.
 
Regarding hangouts - "... we recognize that connecting face-to-face is special and serious, so if a stranger outside a teen’s circles joins the hangout, we temporarily remove the young adult, and give them a chance to rejoin."

Does the phrase "young adult" in this case refer to the teen? It seems like it must, but I would never refer to teenagers as young adults. They are not adults. Only adults can be young adults.

That nit-pick aside, I'm glad to see these increased levels of privacy for teens. Good on you, Google.
Ada M
 
+Bradley Horowitz , some more ideas, in case you're not already doing this:
1 - When someone does a search for anything within G+ (searching for friends, or topics), ensure that the results from one age-group do not include posts from the other age-group (outside of people they have in their circles).
2 - Automatically and silently disable public sharing of photos that have teens tagged in them (outside of a teen's profile pic), and also block public sharing of their 'following/followed by' lists.
3 - Get rid of all of the porn-profile pics -- if you add a 'mark as porn' option whenever you mouse-over over a profile pic then we can all help you with this.
4 - Silently flag any user following a huge array of teens, or just-women, or just-men and block their stream, search, and page-view results accordingly.
 
does 1) apply to "public" as it is now? Will there a public 18- and a public 18+? Or will public be left as "public," "searchable," "post at your own risk?"
 
I think G+ needs to let people tag posts as over-18/under-18, just like you can identify which circles you post to, and whether to include your location. It's not perfect, but it can help. Just like you can choose to never include location in your posts, you should be allowed to say that, by default, no minors should be allowed to see your posts. I also think that for their safety, minors should not be allowed to post their locations.
 
Love this Bradley!! You should come speak at Santa Barbara High Scool. We need you !!
 
How about a profile field with your birthdate so others can see? And in the meanwhile, add also birthday notifications, in the end of the right column. :)
 
+Pat Thompson #1 Rule. Public is Public (not half public. 100% Public). And regarding how you control your teens accounts, if they want to hide something from you they will. So hopefully they know better. Believe me, Google+ is not giving them more tools to hide.
 
Welcome Google! I've been working with teens for years and am happy to see Google, one of my favorite business tools recognize this powerful & important demographic too!
 
I admit that my first thought was something like: "Get off my lawn!". But then I realized two things. 1) This is a great business decision for Google. 2) Teenagers are going to learn how to deal with social media at some point, regardless of how their parents approach it, and at least Google+ is going to be a safer and better environment for learning than Facebook.
 
It's your show, som it's your rules.
But: I perceive the news at http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1350409 (i.e. that minors, yes, in the case of most countries people as young as 13 can now join G+ ) as bad news: a new step towards the #facebookisation of G+.

Yes, of course #minors can make meaningful contributions to discussions. But IME most people before a certain age have no sense for #irony, ways to use #sarcasm, direct and indirect language, some allusions, etc..
This doesn't affect posts limited to Circles (where you can - and should - post only to those able to get what you are saying), but I fear the quality of public posts will degrade once their authors try to write them with minors as a potential audience in their minds.
 
Facebook should have thought about this a long time ago.
Chan Li
 
that was cool !
 
This is my suggestion DON'T LET TEENS ON HERE, if I wanted to talk with kids i'd call my own, not meaning to be an asshole but I had to put up with kids on every other site, and it got really stupid, Once again if I wanted to talk to children I WOULD BE ON FACEBOOK, NO F KIN KIIDS IS WHY I RECOMMENDED THIS TO ALL MY ADULT FRIENDS.
 
Thank You! And my friends on Facebook were annoying. :P
 
Another voice among several already hoping that this matriculates to K-12 school districts using Google Apps for Education.
 
I'm so glad to finally be on G+! I really didn't want to wait another few months until my 18th to see what the commotion was. It's an early birthday present from Google. :) I was an alpha tester for Diaspora starting at 16, so I definitely think that teens can handle Google+.
 
+Rebecca Boyer I was a tester for Diaspora also. But well, I love Google and I just couldn't wait to get on. It was like the Cartmenland South Park eppisode. You can't get in! But now it's open.
 
Actually they will have to start teaching how to build real live relationships in school. Whenever I see a group of teens they are all texting other people that aren't there instead of talking amongst themselves! Serious problem!!
 
The terms and conditions at the bottom of each Google+ page still require users to be of an age allowing them to form a binding contract. Contradiction in terms?
 
Our district was denied and were told it is still only for people over 18 - can someone direct me to another person who can assist us? Thanks!
aali T
 
it still says u have to be 18
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