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How Kids Are Using Google Docs to Bully One Another

google430As a parent, you might walk past your child’s room and see her happily typing away on a Google Docs page. “Lovely!” you think. “She’s probably working on her science report or finishing up her essay on the rise of RBG.”

Or, she could be in a secret chat room.

What’s Happening

In today’s edition of Let’s Try to Stay One Step Ahead of Our Kids on the Internet (spoiler: we can’t!), we’re offering this heads-up: Some are using Google Docs, the seemingly wholesome web-based word processor, to skirt their parents’ tech rules. It’s impressive, really. All they need to do is open up a document, invite their friends to become collaborators, and boom—they have a private space to chat, draw, share links, upload photos and post memes. Google Docs is hardly a program parents think to block. . . .and many kids already have accounts for school. After the chat session, they can simply delete the document and empty their Trash folder without leaving any record.

The team behind parental control app Bark warns that children are also using the word processor for bullying—in fact, they say they’ve “seen more than 60,000 cases of kids ganging up on other children in Google Docs.” (The service uses AI technology to look for activity that may indicate cyberbullying, as well as online predators, drug use and suicidal thoughts.)

“They work in tandem to write mean or hurtful things in a shared Google Doc,” the company’s blog states. “In other cases, kids create private, digital ‘burn books’ and invite others to contribute while leaving out the teased child.”

For parents, it’s complicated. Kids always will find a way to connect—maybe you simply see this as the modern-day version of passing around a secret notebook in the school halls, the probably-not-latest example of teenage ingenuity.

What Parents Can Do

The best thing you can do is teach your kids how to stay safe themselves—to think twice before posting something they might later regret (just because a Google document is destroyed doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have a screenshot), to tell an adult if they suspect cyberbullying or harassment, and to not accept invitations from anyone they don’t know.

Excerpted from “How Kids Are Using Google Docs to Bully Each Other” in OffSpring, a blog about parenting. Read the full story. If you would like to learn more about bullying and how you can help your child, see these articles in CHC’s resource library.

Source: Offspring | How Kids Are Using Google Docs to Bully Each Other, https://offspring.lifehacker.com/how-kids-are-using-google-docs-to-bully-each-other-1833151374 | © 2019 Gizmodo Media Group

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