Millennials Are Freaking Out Because Teens Today Use Google Docs as a Covert Chat App

Millennials Are Freaking Out Because Teens Today Use Google Docs as a Covert Chat App

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Writing a note to your high school BFF on a small piece of paper and secretly slipping it to them is so last generation. These days some teens have become fully tech-savvy, and they’re using Google Docs — of all things — to covertly chat with friends.

Education for teens today is a completely different ballgame than it used to be, even when compared to what Millennials grew up with. These days students are bringing their smartphones into the classroom, and many schools provide laptops to students. And while students’ smartphones have to be put away while in the classroom, a lot of the time a student’s laptop is actually part of the lesson, a simple solution for collaborative exercises.

A recent article by The Atlantic revealed Google Docs as the chat app of choice for many teens who are stuck in class, and well, we’re just shook that we never thought of it being used in this way.

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Teens told me they use Google Docs to chat just about any time they need to put their phone away but know their friends will be on computers. 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. Or they’ll take advantage of the fact that Google allows users to highlight certain phrases or words, then comment on them via a pop-up box on the right side: 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.

And then there’s the fact that a teen who finds themself “grounded” from social media and their phone (but still has to get homework done) could actually fool their parents by chatting with friends through Google Docs. That’s pretty genius.

According to The Atlantic, the use of Google Docs for secretive chat with friends is almost exclusively done in middle school and high school, and isn’t really a habit that continues through college. (Which makes sense, since there isn’t much “note-passing” in colleges and universities.) One 20-year-old college student the outlet spoke to considered Google Docs something to reminisce over, saying it made her “nostalgic.”

And if you really want to feel old, she also said this: “I haven’t passed a physical note to someone since fifth grade.” I feel older than ever.

What do you think about this? Have you ever used Google Docs as a covert chat app?

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