Google VP Bradley Horowitz makes a great pitch though. . . .
Teens and young adults are the most active Internet users on the planet. 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.
Oh, snap! Did he just call Facebook “second-rate?” So he didn’t mention them by name, but come on. . .
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.”
There he goes again! Calling Facebook a “tool,” a rigid and brittle tool, even! This means war.
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).
Safety and self-expression, all very nice, but how many 13-year-olds do you know that are clamoring for a Google+ account?
Then again, maybe they’ve got a point. With Circles, young Dylan can put mommy and grandmom in their own special circle then create special posts that only they can see. “I got an A on my math test! Yippee!”
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All the real stuff goes in the Friends Circle: (Insert remark you wouldn’t want your parents to see if you were a 13 year-old boy.)
In order to prevent oversharing, Google+ has a warning screen for teens who click the share all option.
Another, kind of odd safety feature, is the Hangout Lockout.
Google+ Hangouts bring people together using live multi-person video, and the results range from heartwarming to awe-inspiring. 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.
That whole paragraph sounds like the opening narration on a 70’s Afterschool Special.
I do believe that Google+ has many elements that would be helpful to teens, such as the ability to group followers and video chat on Hangout. But the decision to lower the age rage seems a bit premature. I think Google would have been better off expanding their push to bring in more adults who post on at least a weekly basis.
And can we talk about how ugly the opening screen is with all the colored arrows. Like a kindergartner gone mad. Ugh.
What do you think? Is the decision to lower the age range a good thing, bad thing, or ain’t no thing at all?