My post a month ago on why I believe the Google+ 18-and-over age restriction is a smart move was met with some very mixed reactions. Have a read of the comments section. Some people agreed and offered other reasons why my view may be correct, but many others completely disagreed. The large majority of the people who disagreed seem to be under 18, however, so it could be frustration by the fact that many people can’t use the service which lead to disagreement.
I want to talk to the people under 18 who can’t access Google Plus here – and explain what I believe Google’s intentions are, so you don’t have to worry.
Google will open up Google+ to people under 18 in the near future. They have to. Like many of you pointed out in the comments, they would be absolutely stupid not to let people under 18 use G+. They would be cutting out a large proportion of potential users. But Google is not stupid – in fact, they’re incredibly smart, which is why they’re opening it up to people over 18 initially.
If a social network tries to market itself to absolutely everyone to begin with, then it ends up forming a bond with none of its users. It’s too broad and too general, and no users will become passionate about it. In order to create passion amongst a proportion of your users, you need to cut out other users in the short-term. Facebook did this through only inviting elite university students, beginning with Harvard and opening it up to Ivy League universities in the US. Google+ is doing it in a broader way, but saying that adults are their initial primary audience.
Not to mention that since Google+ is trying to avoid many of the privacy issues associated with Facebook, not allowing people under 18 to join will immediately save them a lot of issues so they can focus in the short-term on making the product better.
But just like Facebook, Google will open G+ up to everyone sometime very soon. They’ve grown insanely fast, with tens of millions of users already – so it won’t be long until they want further growth, and lift the age limit (or make it 13+ only).
If you’re under 18 and can’t yet access Google+, don’t stress it. Just be patient and you’ll have access soon enough!
Hope that explains what I believe Google’s reasoning is. Any questions or thoughts, leave a comment.