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How kids use Google Docs for secret bullying

Google’s online word processing tool is being used by kids to bully other children in secret, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google Docs is seen as a Microsoft Word alternative, which leads many parents to believe that the productivity suite is solely used for work. Who would use Word for anything other than document creation and writing? Just maybe: children who are blocked from social media platforms.

Connected education has come a long way, especially when one considers online tools like Google Docs. These web apps have become a go-to tool for schools, due to strong collaboration features, powerful sharing tools, and an instant cloud autosave feature. They also integrate with classroom management services like Google Classroom and Moodle.

While these tools are convenient, collaboration opens itself up to misuse. The parental control app Bark has lifted the lid on how children are using Google Docs as an informal social network.

Confused? Here’s how it compares to Facebook:

Chatting 

When a shared Google Doc is open, it acts like a blank piece of paper for multiple pens. As a user writes in the document, other users see that text on their screens in real time. This makes it a shared Google Doc that can be shared with tens or hundreds of people, all in effect writing in a text chat. Alternatively, the Doc can be shared with one other person to make a two-way private chat.

Why do children do this?

Schools tend to block social media platforms with a firewall and they intend Google Docs to be used for work. It also acts as a good chat disguise for students. One child reported that he had an old history paper which he converted into a chat room, so when his parents checked on him, he just had to scroll up from the chat page.

Bullying

Where there’s group chatting, there’s group bullying. Bark reports it has seen more than 60,000 cases of kids ganging up on other children in Google Docs. These kids work together to write hurtful things in a shared Google Doc of which the victim is a part. In other cases, kids create lists or “burn books” and exclude the victim.

Click here to find out how bullying doesn’t stop at text messages, why this is happening, and what parents can do to make sure that their children are safe from bullying.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Graham Downs

    Mar 13, 2019 at 7:43 am

    This is terrible. I hate bullying.

    I even wrote a book about it, but this… this makes Stingers look like literal child’s play. So diabolical. So… so… sinister! 🙁

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Google announces its ‘Netflix for gaming’

The new gaming platform, Stadia, promises high-definition gaming on TVs, computers, and mobile devices, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google has announced that it has moved into the gaming space, and it focuses on two big aspects of gaming: streaming of games for gamers, which will allow gamers to game anywhere with a fast, low-latency Internet connection; and audiences that watch gamers in-game.

This is a big move in making gaming accessible to more gamers, as it reduces hardware costs, by utilising the benefits of low-latency cloud computing. This will be achieved by using a globally connected network of Google data centres. Gamers who stream games are most likely already using a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection, so access to the Stadia platform will be an added expense.

Through the Stadia platform, gamers will be able to access a large library of games at all times, with no installation time, on virtually any screen. Scaling of hardware like CPU, GPU, memory, and storage is also possible, as one would for cloud server resources.

Google will be leveraging its other platforms, like YouTube, with Stadia streaming. It claims that 200-million people are watching game-related content daily on YouTube. This allows, for example, Stadia players to jump in with other Stadia players – no downloads, no updates, no patches, and no installs.

For console players, Google has designed a custom controller.

The controller was designed to establish a direct connection from the Stadia controller to Google’s data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving, and sharing gameplay in 4K resolution. It sports a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone, as many Google products do, for voice control. 

The device is expected to be released later this year, pending FCC approval.

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Nintendo announces Stranger Things 3 game

The Netflix Original show is set to launch a retro-style game on the Nintendo Switch.

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In collaboration with Netflix, developer BonusXP has created Stranger Things 3: The Game. It is the official companion game to Season 3 of the hit original series. The game and latest season are expected to launch on US Independence Day, the 4th of July, a date that will, of course, stick in American gamers’ memories.

This adventure game blends a distinctively retro 16-bit art style, reminiscent of games from the time when the series was set. It is claimed to have modern gameplay mechanics to deliver nostalgic fun with a fresh new twist. Players will be able to experience their favourite show through a mix of exploration, puzzles, and combat.

Just ad in the show, teamwork is at the heart of Stranger Things 3: The Game. Players can team up in a two-player local co-operative, or in single player mode alongside an AI partner. Players can choose to play as one of twelve characters from the show, each with different abilities and attributes. Together, they’ll play through familiar events from the series, while also uncovering never-before-seen Stranger Things secrets, ensuring a fun experience for those new to the world of Stranger Things as well as for those familiar with the series.

Key Features:

  • Experience the show in a new way, exploring the eerie world of Hawkins to uncover new mysteries beyond what’s seen in Season 3.
  • Jump right into the action of this pick-up-and-play adventure: gameplay mechanics that allow players from beginner to advanced skill levels to get in on the fun.
  • Take your game to a higher level by trying out different character combinations and collecting all the secrets the expansive world of Hawkins has to offer.
  • Team up with a friend, leveraging drop-in/drop-out local co-op to take on the mysterious monsters of Hawkins together. While playing solo, use a collection of “buddy commands” to control both characters and still experience all the fun.
  • Choose from 12 playable characters, each with their own unique talents and stats.

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