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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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A blank Google Doc is more than just text: a bully can use words, memes, photos, videos, GIFs, among others. The document can be structured in a way that allows other children to comment underneath a photo, like one would comment underneath a photo on Facebook. Like Snapchat, one can delete a photo for everyone once it has been posted, provided nobody in the document has taken a screenshot.

Device monitoring is a complicated issue for parents. It would be easy to say: Bark, the parent control app mentioned above, can monitor text messages, emails, YouTube activity, and even Google Docs with its service. But it’s not always this simple.

Tech-savvy kids will find a way to connect or work around blocking applications because they are likely to know more about how the blocking app functions than do the parents who set it up. This Google Doc problem is simply a digital version of passing a secret notebook around.

The best thing as a parent is to teach one’s kids how to deal with bullying online. In Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide to Raising Safe Children in a Digital World, Arthur Goldstuck and Nikki Bush outline a procedure, starting with the advice that children should be shown the online safety mantra of “Stop, Block, and Tell”:

  • The child must stop what they are doing, and take a deep breath. It is important that they do not engage with the bully.
  • The child must block the person who is harassing them. As a parent, one must show one’s child how to use the blocking feature on social media and instant messaging apps that one allows one’s child to be on.
  • The child must tell a parent or another adult they trust.
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