What do I need to know about Google Hangouts?

We've spoken to parents to find out what they think about Google Hangouts. We've also asked children and young people what they think. Here's what they said:

Children’s views

What do children and young people dislike about it?

6% of the children and young people who reviewed Google Hangouts thought it was unsafe. The main things they told us they don’t like about Google Hangouts were:

  • Being contacted by people you don’t know.

What do children and young people like about it?

The main things that children and young people told us they like about Google Hangouts were:

  • It’s easy to block people
  • An easy way to communicate with friends
  • It’s free to call and message using WiFi

Is content on Google Hangouts suitable for children and young people?

We asked parents and young people about the types of inappropriate content they’ve seen on Google Hangouts. The level of risk is based on the % of respondents who reported seeing these types of content. The ratings are: Low Risk (less than 5% of respondents); Medium Risk (between 5 and 25%); and High Risk (over 25%, or more than one in four).


Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk


Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Low Risk

What are people saying about
Google Hangouts?

Boy, 15

“A person can only talk to you if they know your email or you tell them your email. You can block the person anytime, if they start to bother you.”

Girl, 14

“You can talk and chat to your friends for as long as you like, but if people bully you or swear at you then they don’t get any warnings. You could share private information and the reporting option isn't available”

Boy, 14

“As long as you use it to text your friends or someone you know you will be safe.”


“It is generally a messaging app restricted to selected users whom you need details of in order to contact. It's not like social media that is more globally accessible.” – Father of three


“It’s really about how your profile can be viewed by other people and your security settings. I use it for chatting with my friends who have various devices. It's a little harder to report things on Google Hang Outs but very easy to get it up and running.” – Father of 7 and 9 yr olds


"It's integrated with Google and you can share family stuff really easily.” – Father of 10 to 18 yr olds

Google Hangouts

"Use Hangouts to keep in touch. Message friends, start free video or voice calls, and hop on a conversation with one person or a group."

O2 Guru’s Top Tip for Google Hangouts

O2 Guru Matthew says:

"Hangouts is a great app to chat, call and speak to friends. Our top tip however is to check in and learn more about who your child is speaking to. There aren’t any parental controls you can put in place, but having a conversation with your child is a great way to see what’s going on."

Our O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline can help you to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks. You can call us free on 0808 800 5002.

For face to face advice and support, you can also book a free in-store appointment with an O2 Guru here (even if you’re not with O2).


What's the right age for Google Hangouts?


Google Hangouts says

This is from Google Hangouts' own guidelines and is accurate as of March 2018.


Our panel of parents say

Based on our independent panel of 2,049 parents, surveyed through YouGov in January 2018.


Children say

Based on 2,059 responses from children and young people in November and December 2017.


Net Aware visitors say

Based on 389 votes from visitors to the Net Aware site – you can vote too.

What do you think?

Adjust the slider and tell us what you think is the right age to join Google Hangouts:


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Start a conversation with your child
about Google Hangouts

Having open, regular conversations with your child will enable you to really understand and explore the online world together, helping you to keep them safe online. Our tips and advice can help you start having these conversations.

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