Google has released a new social media application platform -- Google+. Should we, as parents, be concerned for the safety of your kid on the Internet? A new formula may have emerged: Google PLUS your kid PLUS the Internet PLUS busy parents EQUALS the safety of your kids on the Internet reduced once again.
Google+ is the latest social media platform, launched by the Internet search giant Google. Google+ was launched recently and is already making its mark on the Internet. Looking from a perspective of your kids safety on the Internet, Google has only made the platform available to those who are 18 years old and older. As the popularity and number of users for Google+ grows, there is an incredible amount of attention given to the safety of your kids on the Internet.
Although Google+ is available only to adults, there is always the possibility of younger kids and teens being drawn to the massive appeal of the platform. We should know that not all children are bound by these age limitations and regulations. Sometimes, curiosity and temptation to hop in the bandwagon gets the better of the kid. While most of us grew up during the development of computers and Internet, our kids have grown up surrounded by computers, the Internet and especially social networking applications. Waiting until 18 to check out the latest social network platform is not really an option for most of them, and regardless of age limitations it is always possible for even a 10 year old to create an email address and register on Google+, posing as an 18 year old. This fact alone should be compelling enough for you to take the opportunity to discuss safety for kids on the Internet with your kid, with a strong focus on the many dangers of careless social networking.
The Google+ platform comes with sufficient social networking features. If you are used to other social networking applications such as Facebook, MySpace or Skype then you will be familiar with the Google+ features. The Google+ features deliver functionality via various categories, such as: Circles, Sparks and Hangouts. Circles is just another way to connect with your circle of friends. Hangouts is another way to share information with the right people. Sparks is another way to share videos and articles with your circle of friends. You can filter and categorize online friends and deliver video and article content delivery to your trusted friends and family. Other features allow you to automatically upload pictures and an easy way to keep in touch with your friends through texting services. Once again, the possibility for these features to be misused by under-aged kids is always present.
The main threat to kids who use social networking platforms, such as Google+, is the ability for too much or the wrong information to leak onto the Internet. To keep this information leakage in check you should be explain to your kid that they should not to talk to strangers, they should not accept non trusted people into their circle of friends, and they should not hangout with people that they do not know. If you think about this, this advice is not that much different from the advice given to you by your parents. I am sure at some point your parents have told you (as a kid) that you should not talk to strangers, and you should not hang out with people you do not know. The big difference, however, is that the platform now is different from when we were kids. Kids today interact with each other through a virtual, online world, instead of the offline, non virtual world. This is why online safety for kids is exceptionally important and should be discussed with patience.
Let your children know that while social networking is not 100% inappropriate (Facebook's age limit is above 13 and the majority of its 750 million strong user base are teenagers), it is necessary to keep certain information confidential. One of the most basic Internet safety guidelines for kids is to control the amount of information released on to the Internet via kid's social networking profile; the Google+ profile. Since it is virtually impossible to keep your kid out of Google+ without breaking their heart, you too can join Google+ and make friends with your kid online. This way, you get to see the online activities of your kid, identify any potential danger that your kid may get themselves into, and become knowledgeable about the Google+ application platform.
Becoming aware of the Google+ platform is probably your greatest asset. By understanding how Google+ works (and it is not that difficult) you will be able to guide your children safely through the social networking maze of Google+.
In my opinion, you don't have to be a mathematical genius to understand the Internet safety formula or kids. It takes just common sense. To an extent you have the ability to change the formula, which will have the net effect of keeping your kid safe on the Internet.