Many teachers, including myself, are doing Google Hangouts with our students. I've had students ask me if they can set up their own Hangouts with friends beyond the teacher's lessons. The answer is yes, but with exceptions. They cannot use a school computer to do this, it would have to be a personal computer. I also tell them they MUST have parent permission and supervision! Here is a review for you to read up on what exactly Google Hangouts is, plus a link for how to help your child set it up:
Also - if your child uses a school chromebook, they'll have the "grid view" option to see all of the students in the hangout at the same time. If you are using a different computer, you may need to download the grid view extension. This view will show you how:
Another app for kids to communicate with friends and family is Kids Messenger. All messages come straight through your phone so you can see everything that's going on in real time.
Of course, as always, be sure to monitor EVERYTHING your children are doing online. This may be time consuming but is WORTH IT! I'll share more thoughts on that in a future post :)