Google has gotten more aggressive with its marketing efforts for Google+, including a recent television ad that could appeal to a younger audience. Because of this, the company has announced new safety enhancements and opened its doors to teenagers.
Previously, only adults over 18 have been able to join Google+, but now anyone with a Google Account – which requires that individuals be at least 13 years old – can join the network.
To prepare, Google+ has made slight changes, specifically for teens, with a focus on privacy when sharing content, participating in Hangouts, and receiving notifications.
For example, those under 18 will see a warning when sharing with “Public” or “Extended Circles.” By default, only the people in teens’ Circles will have the ability to interact with them and their posts.
Additionally, Google will mute the mic and video feed if a person outside of the teen’s Circles joins a Hangout. However, the teen has the option of rejoining the Hangout once the warning message has appeared. More information on teen-focused content can be found in the Safety Center.
While opening its doors to teens might not result in a surge of new users, it does put the network in closer competition with Facebook, which has allowed those 13 and over to create Profiles. It’s likely that teens will add celebrities and musicians to Circles over consumer brands, but it’s too early to tell how the younger members will interact with Brand Pages on Google+.