Description: Google Hangouts is a messaging, video, and calling app. It allows users to connect with others from all over the world and all the calls to other Hangouts users are free (absent your carrier’s charges). There’s the option for group chats with up to 150 participants and the ability to include up to 10 people per video call.
Category: Social Networking
APP Store rating: 4 +
It’s super easy to connect, cheaply, with friends. Users are able to connect with already existing contacts from their devices or locate other users who might be acquaintances or following. They may also find individuals in communities on Google+, which the app is capable of linking to if it is downloaded. See Privacy below for links that help control who you connect with.
Deleting or turning off message history. You can delete an entire Google Hangouts conversation history with one person, but not individual messages in a history. This actually better than iMessage, where it’s possible to delete individual messages in a conversation string. If you’re in a group, one person can’t delete the history, but you can leave the group. This support article explains all the variables.
Is sexual content and/or nudity and crude humor possible? If the user hasn’t set privacy correctly, then strangers can contact users directly. A parent review stated her son was being contacted by a person requesting pictures of him, but this is due to her son not having privacy set correctly. NOTE – in spite of our best efforts, the PYE team was not able to identify a hidden doorway to a Google search, which really surprised us.
Privacy settings are critical. Users have three options: (1) contact me directly, (2) can send me an invitation, or (3) can’t send me invitations. We recommend that young users use the (3) setting until they graduate to the (2) setting. This support article explains further.
The app looks useful and fun. Any app that allows digital conversations should be monitored by parents. For a kid with an iPhone who wants to chat with a kid with an Android, Google Hangouts provides even slightly better controls than iMessage/SMS texting on the devices.
Homes should have rules like, “no erasing history” and “privacy settings should be [fill in].” Parents can ask a kid often, “have you had seen a conversation that has bothered you?” and similar questions. Stay involved! Having the right digital conversations between parents and kids is so critical. We’ve written our Parent Tech Talks E-book to help!
We’re constantly on the lookout for the best tools for parents and we’ve put them in our Resources.