We wrote last week about how pending changes at Google could make YouTube a lot less safe for young users. We’ve gotten a look at the official email from Google and taken a look at the settings ourselves. The way Google tells it, the changes are designed to allow your “friends” on Google+ to reach you via email even if they don’t know your email address.
The problem as we see it is as follows:
- Most kids and teens, from what we’ve seen, use YouTube
- As of last year, Google requires people leaving comments on YouTube to use their Google+ account to do so
- People (especially kids) trust messages in their email inbox more so than they would a random message on YouTube or other social platform
- Your “friends” on Google+, according to this Google policy, aren’t necessarily people you know, rather they’re people who have added you to a circle
So, let’s say your tween watches a video on YouTube. As long as she has a Gmail account, she has a Google+ account for all intents and purposes. If she leaves a comment on the video, other users can see her YouTube user name, and therefore her Google+ name. A user who is up to no good can add her to one of his Google+ circles then send her an email. For predators and cyberbullies, this seems to good to be true.
According to Google, all users will be initially opted in to the program, but there is an opt out available. We would encourage parents of users who watch YouTube videos with their own Google account to opt out as soon as the feature becomes available.
To opt out, log in to your Gmail account and click the gear icon in the top right
- Click on “Settings”
- Under the “General” tab, scroll down to “Email via Google+”
- Click the drop down menu and click on “No one”
Note: if you are an active Google+ user, you may want to click on “Circles”. By doing that, someone who you really are friends with on Google+ (in your Circles) can email message you.
We aren’t against kids watching YouTube videos, but parents do need to stake steps to make sure they are safe.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.