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Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2012


Sim does a good job helping teens avoid hurtful social media pitfalls

Subjects & skills

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (2 Reviews)

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Pros: This well-researched and thoughtful tool could be a hit in the classroom, where kids can learn from sharing their experiences and discussing examples.

Cons: Wording is a bit cheesy and out-of-touch, and students might feel the mock school year drags a bit.

Bottom Line: High school students need help with online behavior, and interactive sim BeSeen teaches them the do's an don'ts.

With support from teachers and parents, BeSeen has a lot of potential to teach high schoolers how to navigate tricky social media situations. The Web Wise Kids website includes many thoughtful resources for teachers and parents, including a classroom guide with learning objectives and discussion prompts that includes five lesson plans. The whole "school year" takes about two hours to play through, so teachers could easily design an eye-opening, week-long unit likely to include some lively discussions.

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BeSeen from Carnegie Mellon University and Web Wise Kids, teaches students how to keep things copacetic online. Facebook and Twitter are universal, and these and other social media sites often beget conflict. The challenges of how to respond to a friend's post, for example, can be nuanced, and one simulation allows students to understand the short- and long-term impacts of their choices.

In this simulation of a social network, students choose an avatar and set up a profile with some basic information. They then choose from three degrees of online safety and responsibility. Menu options include dashboard, profile, friends list, inbox, awards, and a game. On the dashboard, kids are prompted to interact with friends by updating their status, commenting on a friend's status, or responding to a message.

Students are encouraged to reflect on the choices they make when interacting in a social network and are rewarded with new friends, positive feedback, and awards for making safe and responsible choices. When they make unsafe or risky choices, the characters (including "Mom") provide guidance and feedback to show the undesired consequences.

Simulations do a decent job of capturing the personalities and drama of high school, with diverse characters and interests. Still, students may feel that the clunky menus and cheesy language condescend to them, or that the characters are a bit stereotyped. A few terms are conflated, such as sexting being described as "online sharing," which seems out of touch. The unchallenging and distracting puzzle game might seem a bit childish.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

BeSeen does a decent job of capturing the universe of high school, and the challenges are nuanced and require thoughtful interaction. Still, kids may feel put off by the clunky menus and cheesy language.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The short-term and long-term impacts of online sharing get addressed, so kids can learn to make responsible choices in the moment. They get feedback and guidance both ways.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The developer's Web Wise Kids website offers resources for parents and teachers, including a classroom guide with lesson plans, learning objectives, and discussion prompts.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews)
Featured review by
Elizabeth E. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Isidore Newman School
New Orleans, United States
Social media simulation to teach kids appropriate online behavior

BeSeen is a "social media" platform in which students create their own profiles and interact with imaginary characters at an imaginary high school.

Read full review