A Parent's Guide to Google+

Introduction








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What is Google+?

Google+ is literally Google with a plus. The "+" is the social networking it adds to all of Google's other services, including Gmail, YouTube, and Blogger. Google+ brings popular social-media features like comments, photo- and music-sharing, videochat, etc. to your social circles. It's basically what any user chooses it to be, from an ongoing conversation to a platform of self-expression, with tools for making it as individual or collective as you want.

What do teens use it for?

In Google+, people chat, share ideas, post photos and videos, stay in touch and share personal news, play games, plan meetings and get-togethers, send birthday and holiday wishes, do homework and business together, find and contact long-lost friends and relatives, review books,recommend restaurants and support charitable causes. The list goes on and it also includes getting and giving validation and emotional support, lots of informal learning and exploring personal, academic and future professional interests.

In fact, there’s very little of human life that doesn’t get expressed in a social network site. It’s sometimes called a “social utility.” Like a power grid, it provides the supporting infrastructure for the constantly changing everyday activities of millions of users, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In effect, the “product” called Google+ is a living thing that changes constantly. Unlike the media we parents grew up with – books, newspapers, and even radio and television – it’s extremely “user-driven,” the collective product of its millions of users’ lives, updated spontaneously, moment by moment around the world and part of the social Web that increasingly mirrors all of human life.

Parent Tip: It can really help to take what you see of teen social networking with a grain of salt. We’ve noticed that adults often take what they see literally – more seriously than the situation sometimes warrants – which can cause overreaction. Just like in “real life,” sometimes they’re just joking around. So if something really bothers you, it’s a good idea to ask them about it calmly (with curiosity rather than confrontation) before deciding anything.