What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that BeSeen is an innovative simulation of a high school's social network that teaches kids about being safe and responsible online. Players create a profile with a gender and class year, then progress through one year of school. Players read posts by other characters and choose from options to make status updates and respond to other characters. The choices revolve around social media challenges, such as sharing locations, photos, and gossip. Choosing the better option often is rewarded with a new friend or a award like "drinking drama diverted" or "sexting scandal salved." Missed opportunities for awards are also shown, and some situations show long-term, rather than immediate consequences. The player's mom is automatically added as a friend, and she occasionally provides feedback on the player's choices. The site deals with mature issues, such as child pornography laws, bullying, and sexual predators, but the photos and language are not explicit. Kids can share their progress on Facebook, but this is optional.
What kids can learn
- conveying messages effectively
- friendship building
Responsibility & Ethics
- learning from consequences
- making wise decisions
- respect for others
- social media
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
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.
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.
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.
What's it about?
In this simulation of a social network, teens first choose an avatar and set up a profile with some basic information. Menu options include dashboard, profile, friends list, inbox, awards, and a game. On the dashboard, teens are prompted to interact with friends by updating their status, commenting on a friend's status, or responding to a message. Teens must choose between three options, each displaying a different degree of online safety and responsibility. Teens are rewarded with new friends and awards for making safe and responsible choices.
Is it any good?
BESEEN is an important app and admirable in many respects. The challenges about how to respond to a friend's post are often relatively nuanced, and the length of the simulation allows kids to understand the short- and long-term impacts of their choices. The simulation does a decent job of capturing the personalities and drama of high school, with diverse characters and interests. Still, kids may feel that the clunky menus and the cheesy language make this app seem childish and repetitive, particularly when playing the game more than once. A few terms are conflated, such as characters describing sexting as online sharing, which makes the app seem out of touch. This impression is reinforced by the unchallenging and tedious cipher game. Despite these small flaws, the app (with support from teachers and parents) has a lot of potential to teach kids about navigating tricky social media situations that face high schoolers.
Families can talk about...
Talk to your kids about cyberbullying. Help them understand ways to prevent it and protect themselves. See Stand Up to Cyberbullying for conversation starters and tips.
Discuss with your kids what's safe and what's not safe to post in online social networks, and why it's a good idea to set privacy settings to "friends only."