Although it may never achieve the dominance and global popularity of Facebook, Google+ (Plus) remains an important and influential social network simply based on the fact that it’s from Google. When the company announced a suite of upgrades and design changes for Google Plus in April 2012, it boasted 170 million accounts, although many of those are surely users who have never used the service or visited it only once.
Google Plus allows you to choose which fields and information about you are searchable and that may appear in search results. You can choose what is available to specific individuals, circles and everyone.
You can also control who you want to receive notifications from whenever someone shares a post with you, mentions you, invites you to a game or hangout or shares a photo with you. You can keep this activity within your circle, or choose to allow Extended Circles or Anyone to be able to include you send you these notifications.
Circles are at the heart of the Google Plus, and are the groups you’ve set up to share different content with. Even though you’ve given each of these Circles a name, these names are never visible to others, although the Circle itself and its members can be set to appear on your profile.
Circles are groups of people you share content with. The names of your circles and who you add to them are visible only to you, though you can set whether the list of people in all of your circles is visible in your public profile.
One setting you’ll want to make sure to be aware of is which of your circles is included in the “Your Circles” settings. The default is for everyone, but you can include only specific ones to be included in the blanket “Your Circles” sharing setting.
Within each post, you can choose who to make the information available to, whether it be everyone, your connections or certain Circles. But keep in mind that anyone that post is shared with can not only see all the comments in the post, but can also share it with others.
Make sure to tweak the settings for photos so you can control who can tag you and what information is provided. Set your settings here to determine who, if anyone, is allowed to tag you and whether or not you want to attach a location to your photos as they’re uploaded.
You can also tweak notifications to control whether or not you are notified when someone comments on a photo after you did or in a photo you were tagged in.
One other privacy setting for photos on Google Plus involves the use of Google’s facial recognition technology. You have the choice as to whether to allow Google to try and recognize your face and prompt people you know to tag you.
Each time you start or join a hangout, you check your appearance on screen and adjust your microphone and speaker volume, before you’re visible to others. Make sure you’re using common sense here, and if you’re joining a hangout that’s not just with friends and families, hide any identifiable or personal items from your background.
Technology for parents & kids: Hints, tips, online safety strategies & more.
This may be obvious to some, but a surprise to others: Adults and kids use Facebook very differently. While adults are very tuned into accepting friend requests from only those that truly are their friends, kids are far more likely to use the social network to connect to other kids they barely know. Either way, it’s important that parents know about kids and social networks, and how to ensure that proper rules of Internet and online safety are observed.
Important to consider: For many parents and adults the appeal to a service like Facebook is the number of connections they have. For kids that’s sometimes a big turn off. We’ve talked to a few tweens and teens who are on Facebook because all their friends are, but that tell us they don’t like to update or “use” the social network for the exact same reason – because all their friends are on it. So they’re constantly searching for other services which allow them to connect to the friends they want to in other ways.
So find out which services your kids and are using, and if you’re not already using them, you need to start, or at the very least have a firm understanding of how these social media platforms and how kids can use them. As a benefit, this also may provide some common ground for discussions with your teens, a time when having conversations that involve more than grunts or talking about how they’re hungry can be a rare and precious occasion. But at the same time, you need to know your boundaries when it comes to following your kids online. So refrain from posting to their wall on Facebook, or don’t follow their friends on Facebook. One good idea is to use social networks to connect to your kids’ friends’ parents. It’s another great way to foster community connections and create a sense of safety around kids activity.
Oftentimes kids’ unspoken rules involve how to use Facebook how they want to DESPITE the fact they’re connected to you. There are detailed instructions easily accessible via Google offering kids tips on “how to friend your parents without sacrificing your privacy,” which essentially comprise a step-by-step guide for kids on how to set up their privacy controls before accepting your friend request so they can continue to post information without you seeing it, even if you’re friends.
According to one recent survey, 80 percent of teens have admitted to posting content to Facebook that they’ve hidden from certain friends and/or parents by using privacy settings. So be aware that just because you’re connected doesn’t mean you’ll see anything. In fact, posts being hidden from parents is what led to this incident in which a Texas Dad shot his daughter’s laptop on a YouTube video in order to teach her a lesson. Although you may not agree with his tactic, this incident provides a great conversation point for you and your teens about appropriate behavior.
Monitoring your teens’ Facebook accounts is only part of the choice as well: You must also figure out how often you’ll be checking in. In the October 2010 TrustE survey, 72 percent of parents surveyed said they monitor their teens’ accounts, with 50 percent of these parents monitoring weekly, 35 percent daily and 10 percent monthly. Figure out what’s right for your family, and have an open and honest dialogue with your teens about how you’ll be checking in.
A few other tips to remember:
- It’s not nice to talk about people behind their back, and many families also operate by the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So make sure your kids understand not to engage in negative banter about others, or don’t post pictures that they wouldn’t post themselves.
- Don’t assume that everything is automatically set just how you want it in terms of privacy settings on social networks. Go in and make sure all your updates, photos and more are visible to your friends only on Facebook or other social media services such as Google+. Consider setting up a family group to allow you all to share information among each other without broadcasting it to everyone else.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, use the Help section. All these networks have extensive, easy-to-understand and searchable help sections, too, so if you don’t know how to do anything, you can look it up pretty easily.
- Bring the dialogue into real-life. Talk to your teens about social networks. Whether it’s about a specific funny status update or article you saw to general feelings about the service and current events, using the social network as a starting point can lead to great conversations with your kids.