Social networks, apps and games
app-icons-GoogleHangouts

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a free messaging platform that lets you message contacts over text, audio and video, either one on one or in a group. You need a mobile number to sign up on your phone and a Gmail account to sign up on your laptop or desktop.

13+

Official age rating

12+

Parent age rating

What do parents say?
9+

Child age rating

What do children say?

At a glance

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Expert view of the risks...

Sexual

Medium Risk

Violence & hatred

Medium Risk

Bullying

Medium Risk

Suicide & self-harm

Medium Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip

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On Google Hangouts privacy settings

Explore the privacy settings with your child and show them how to block users in the settings.

Top tips for staying safe

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why (and be prepared for an unhappy child).

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’t give your number to a stranger on the street. Is a stranger online any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like emails, names, phone numbers, school names
  • photos of themselves with strangers
  • photos of their body
  • gossip

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

And if they feel like they can’t speak to you, tell them to talk to an adult they trust, like a teacher or Childline.

Your child might see upsetting or negative things from other users on Google Hangouts. If this happens, they might want to block them.

Google Hangouts has guidance on how to block or ignore someone that you might want to check out.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

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Talking to your child

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

Talk about staying safe online

What children and parents are saying about Google Hangouts

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think.

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Kids

What do children and young people dislike about Google Hangouts?

• Being contacted by people you don’t know

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.

Boy, 15

What do children and young people like about Google Hangouts?
• It’s easy to block people
• It’s an easy way to communicate with friends
• It’s free to call and message using WiFi

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

Boy, 14

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Parents

We asked parents about the following areas of Google Hangouts:

Signing up

It was fairly easy but needed to have a [phone] number to validate which is good as you can't just put a random one in.

Father of three

If the child has access to an adult phone with no supervision then there could be an issue, as a child would have to have access to an adult verified account to sign up.

Dad of 7 and 9 year old girls

Reporting

I could easily find out how to block people but reporting inappropriate behaviour had to be searched for in the Help section.

Mother of 13 and 16 year old boys

Privacy settings

You cannot change your privacy or location settings within Google Hangouts. You have to do that from your phone's settings.

Mum of three

Safety and support

[Rules and community support] could be more visible for users.

Dad of 14 and 18 year olds

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