Described by Google as a way to “Reach the people you know more easily”, Google will enable messaging via Google+, to a Google user’s Gmail inbox, even if you don’t know the recipient’s email address.
It hasn’t rolled to anyone in our office yet, so I don’t have complete details, but various publications have written about it in the last 24 hours. According to Time Magazine’s TimeTech blog:
“When you send a Gmail, Google will automatically suggest contacts you’ve added to your Google Plus circles (adding a Google+ user to a circle is a one-way street, it doesn’t require that person’s permission as “friending” on Facebook does).”
You may think that your kids are not using Google+, but think again. Recently Google changed the YouTube comments policy so that you need a Google+ account in order to comment on a YouTube video – and almost every kid uses YouTube in some shape or form.
If this rolls out along the lines of the reports we’ve read, let’s say that your child posts a YouTube video or comments on an age-appropriate video after viewing. A predator or cyberbully could then see their Google+ handle (same as the YouTube handle), add them to a circle and send a message to their email inbox. Not good.
According to reports we’ve read, and thankfully for parents, there will be an opt-out for receiving Gmail messages via Google+. We’ll be monitoring this closely, and will have more to say after the changes roll out to our accounts.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.