Many parents and educators observe children (their own and friends’ kids — under age 13) using Facebook or Google+ and sometimes both. In the connected world, these social media sites are fun to use, and staying connected with friends and other people has never been easier.
While the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) sets 13 as the legal age for users of these two social media sites, many adults don’t know about COPPA or don’t believe it is sensible enough to apply and enforce with their younger children. Thus many kids start using Google+ and Facebook at ages well below age 13.
One significant difference between the two social media sites is the way users handle friends and contacts. On Google+ a user cannot add a contact without putting the person into at least one circle (Google’s term for groups). A circle is a category that is set up and defined with certain characteristics — friends, school friends, work friends, business contacts, etc. When a Google+ user sends out a status update, he or she specifies the group or groups that will receive the updates — clear and easy for users to figure out right away. Continue reading