Google Buzz and Elementary Age Students

I have spent most of the past month talking to students about cyber safety. In addition to sharing information about topics I want students to learn about, I spent a fair amount of time listening to what the students are actually doing when they are online. I enjoy teaching students about cyber safety because it is an important topic and they often see how it is relevant to their life at this moment.

One interesting thing I learned is that children as young as 9 and 10 are using Google Buzz.  Not only are they using Google Buzz without the knowledge of their parents, but many  are also struggling with how to use it and how to protect their privacy.

It is a common practice for parents to give their children Gmail accounts. It is also quite common that parents do not realize that Google accounts are not meant for anyone below the age of 13 (as per the  Child Online Privacy Protection Act).

Any person who has a Gmail account automatically has access to Google Buzz (and many other tools for sharing information that Google provides). When Google launched Google Buzz in 2010, many parents were caught off guard by the fact that their child was now using a social networking site to share information. Parents who have given their children Gmail accounts or who are considering it as an option, should take some time to become familiar with what Google Buzz is and how to manage privacy. Below are some useful links.

Here is a link to a site that talks about Google Buzz. The video on this website is the same one in this post.

This is a link to a blog post from a parent who is an expert on Social Media (in business). It explains how she discovered that her daughter (9 at the time) was using Google Buzz.

If you would like to turn off Google Buzz on an account, click the “turn off buzz” link at the bottom of the Gmail user interface, similar to how you can turn off chat. There are 2 more steps beyond clicking the “turn off buzz” link, so be sure to complete all of these steps.

Here is a video about Google Buzz that was produced by Google for teens.

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