Google Drive is one of the most popular digital tools that educators use. Many K-12 schools use Google’s suite of tools as well as colleges and universities. Michelle Woo at Lifehacker discussed how students are using Google Docs as a chat room to cyberbully each other.
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.
It is interesting to see how students can adapt a digital tool to fit a need they have - communicating with friends. Students will find a way to communicate with each other. Whether that is passing a paper note or texting each other on phones in class. It is concerning to learn that some students are using Google Docs to cyberbully other students.
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.)
It is difficult or impossible to constantly monitor student usage of technology and their digital life. Educators and parents should instead focus on teaching students how to be ethical digital citizens rather than trying to lockdown every digital tool students can use.
Photo: blunkswife / Flickr