Common Sense Review
Updated October 2012

BeSeen

Sim does a good job helping teens avoid hurtful social media pitfalls
Common Sense Rating 4
  • BeSeen takes students through a school year-long social media experience as a student at North Central High School.
  • Students respond to action posts, marked with a red explanation point.
  • Making smart choices about what to post or respond earns kids new friends and opportunities.
  • As kids move through the simulation, they can earn rewards for completing tasks.
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.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

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? 4

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? 3

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.

 

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

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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What's It Like?

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.

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Is It Good For Learning?

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.

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See how teachers are using BeSeen