Sometimes, kids’ creativity can backfire. In this case, it’s a new way children have found to tease or torment their classmates using an app that parents wouldn’t otherwise expect to be a problem: Google Docs.
The news that kids are bullying with Google Docs is surprising, since most parents know their kids use popular word-processor app for important school assignments, typing out reports and sharing work with their teachers electronically.
But a post on Lifehacker highlights just how misleading your child’s time spent on Google Docs might be. They could actually be using it to bully other students.
“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,” the author says.
And, after the chat is over, “they can simply delete the document and empty their trash folder without leaving any record.”
If that thought doesn’t give you pause, consider the fact that these shared Google Docs could become a platform for making digital “burn books,” the article notes.
So what can parents do to prevent this latest type of cyberbullying? Since Google Docs is pretty much essential to most kids’ academic success – it’s a requirement for completing a wide range of assignments – it’s unlikely that parents will want to block their children from using it.
A post on Yahoo about bullying via Google Docs suggests a tried-and-true tactic: keep communication open with your kids.
“If they see someone being bullied – online or in real life – make sure they know that they can (and should) come to an adult for help,” the post notes.
Experts say bullying is a serious problem among today’s youth – and one that requires parental intervention. For help on how to stop bullying, visit stopbullying.gov.
This post was originally published in 2019 and is updated regularly.