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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.
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.