That Google Doc May Not Be Your Kid’s Homework

Today’s teenagers aren’t passing notes in class any more—at least not physically. And while it looks like your kid is diligently working away at their homework, they may actually be chatting with friends. That’s because kids are now getting around the inability to have their phone out in class, the use of blocking software at school and home, and parental rules about no social media when doing homework by using Google Docs as a chat room.

The collaboration tools in Google Docs make it possible for kids to gather and chat. By using different fonts or colors to identify themselves, they can chat in the document itself or copy a document that they are supposed to be collaborating on and chat in the comments. From a distance, it looks like they are working away, and a quick document deletion or resolve of the comments makes the chat disappear if someone comes to take a closer look.

Kids are going to continue to stay ahead of the adults online when it comes to communicating with each other. They’ve always been able to figure out ways around the ways that adults try to stop them, including using the comments section of old blog posts. That’s why it’s best for parents to approach the online world just like they do with the real world—teach them how to be safe and kind. PTAs and parents can take advantage of the PTA Connected programs, from the Smart Talk to set up family guidelines for how to behave online to events created by National PTA in collaboration with Google and Facebook.