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The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs

By The Atlantic

How a writing tool became the new default way to pass notes in classRead full story


  • This reminds me of a set of simple collaborative game templates I had created in Google Docs when it first launched it's collaboration features and hosted on a website called "busyatwork(dot)co " - not live anymore. The idea was for people to use Google Docs to play games at work without it looking like they were on a gaming site, etc. (in my defense, I was 23 then :)).

    The doc templates included games like chess, hangman, noughts and crosses, etc. and all you needed to do was launch it in your Google Doc, and share it with your friend/s to start playing.

    Guess I should relaunch that project :)

  • One has to admire the ingenuity! "They’ll clone a teacher’s shared Google document, then chat in the comments, so it appears to the casual viewer that they’re just making notes on the lesson plan. If a teacher approaches to take a closer look, they can click the Resolve button, and the entire thread will disappear!"

  • The modern Gen Z way to slip notes behind the teacher’s back. In actuality it aligns with new research on Gen Z and privacy, which is to say, “stay out of my life”.

    Our new Axios Harris Poll study Gen Z study found 74% object to being targeted by companies in their social feed and 56% hack their analytics to throw adults off their scent. (aka personal data).

    The hacks are ingenious like having a “Finsta” (second or even third fake Instagram account), or bouncing off social into smaller forums. As Facebook is now the least trustworthy brand by teens in our study, Google should take extra care in docs to protect their data. Then maybe a basic tool could be the next encrypted social network for youth.

  • I love to see that kids these days still share notes during class like us back in the day, they just do it electronically via Google Docs, Haha!

    Students always will find the way... always! 😆

  • And this is why I have made peace with the fact that they will always be one step ahead. “ Sometimes they’ll use the service’s live-chat function, which doesn’t open by default, and which many teachers don’t even know exists.”

  • I love this article. I’m in education and shared it with my colleagues. Their response...”there’s chat in google docs?!” Leave it to the students to teach the teachers a few new things 🤗

  • The kids... are going to be ok.

  • Beyond email and beyond instant messaging is google docs. This article explains how kids use shared docs to do group chats then delete the document. Another reason to think that it is only a matter of time until Google takes the office suite market from MS Office.

  • This has been going on for a while... When teaching at Carnegie Mellon University, I would find my students would often religiously Vine/SnapChat demos/techniques in the studios that I was giving and, honestly, if they're using technology to take visual notes on how to safely do something, and sharing it, I'm all for it!

    Digital Paper Football Field Goals 🏈

  • Collaboration vs social gathering... Both are important and perhaps a good lesson for kids to develop the sense that ultimately they still need to get the work done... And that is on the parents, not Google or Microsoft.

  • I don’t know whether I should laud this or scratch my head. You know, you can group chat on your computer, right? What does ‘socializing’ via Google Docs even mean?

    others literally seeing every letter I typed would make me anxious.

  • I have never heard of this ever. When one of my teachers asked us to transcibe our conversation on Google docs, it was a complete nightmare. Everyone was typing over each other and no one could get a clear word out.

    I'm amazed students these days are actually doing this. It comes to show that as a society we love to communicate and we bridge gaps and barriers any way possible.

    I expect to see a new form of communication within the next few years.

  • Less worried about GenZ after reading this.

  • Two questions: how much distracted the kids become due to Google docs? The lack of attention seems a serious education problem today. Then, does bullying in the school found another gate to attack vulnerable kids?

  • I work in education and wonder how many of my colleagues know about the chat feature in Google Docs. This was news to me. Honestly though...there are probably a lot of students who don't know either.

  • There needs to be a reappraisal of Google products, especially in the classroom. Presumably Google uses Docs the same way it uses other products, to collect what the author Shoshana Zuboff calls “behavioral surplus,” data used for behavioral prediction. Even if kids weren’t distracted and weren’t misusing the product, they would still be subject to surveillance.

  • "What is our Google Docs strategy?" Every audience development person right now.

  • This is fascinating. I’m sure everyone has exchanged notes in physical papers with friends behind the teacher’s back during the class!

    The article says that this is also a good way to trick parents. Well, hopefully the parents are not savvy enough to know how to see all edit history and find out whatever the secrets kids write!

    “Chatting via Google Docs doesn’t just fool teachers; it also trick parents.”

  • This doesn't surprise. The kids are the ones bringing different use cases of technology that we might not be thinking initially.

  • This makes perfect sense and has been going on for a lot longer than anyone realizes, except the kids of course.

  • The kids are alright, as it turns out.

  • This is.... Actually not a surprise.

    And now I'm a little upset that it's been reported because passing notes is a rite of passage and getting it out there like this will cause schools to address it with more scrutiny.

  • #unjntendedconsequences 😲

  • Google docs for the cross generational win!

  • This is great! Working collaboratively!

  • We live in a new world

  • At the end of the day, technology is a tool, does not matter if it is a wheel, a piece of flint, a pencil or Google docs. It is actually heartening to see that the next generation will in fact be leveraging technology and using it. Without the use, regardless of the use case, society would not have innovation, and that is ultimately the most important thing for humanity.

  • This is surprisingly creative, and they might just learn something at the same time.

  • I didn’t know that google doc was used like physical notebook, because they couldn’t use the chat app.

  • Great choice. Google products are amazing and they are easy to use and beautiful!

  • Google Docs >>> Blind, Whisper etc

  • Interestingly enough the design of the app is collaborations. So this is the exact use of it even so underused.

  • Wow

  • Interesting and I feel much potential about this communication area.

  • Did they not consider this when they implemented Google Docs?

  • No. It really is not

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