If it looks like your kids are hard at work on their laptop or Chromebook, they might actually be messaging with their friends. Turns out, tweens and teens are using Google Docs to chat with each other, and it’s honestly pretty brilliant.

All you have to do is start a document, and share it with anyone with whom you want to have access. Then… you can chat and then, very easily delete everything. And it’s unlikely you or their teacher would have access to it, or really, even think to check it.

Related: What are the riskiest apps that parents need to know about? 

How to use Google Docs to message your kids

Here’s our public Google Doc for our Cool Mom Picks Instagram feed

But, it’s actually a clever way to keep up with your kids, and well, your entire family. You can pop up photos, put in weekly reminders, and share funny links to everyone who has the doc. And if you’re like us and you use Gmail pretty much non-stop all day long, it’s much more convenient (and less annoying) than group text.

We liked the idea so much we decided to create a Google Doc for our Cool Mom Picks Instagram feed (thanks for the idea, Jill Krause!) as a way to streamline all the links we share daily in our feed. We have it set to “view only” and people are unable to download the doc (just click that off in share settings), which might be good if you’re trying to just keep a schedule of events for your family, or share updates. If you actually want to communicate, you’ll want to give people editing privileges.

We’ll see how it works, but for now, it helps us keep all the links we share in our Instagram feed in one handy place for everyone.

And while we know that by using Google Docs to message your kids or keep up with your family, you’ll probably make it uncool, it’s worth giving it a try, at least for the next few weeks until they find something else.

Photo by Elle Cartier on Unsplash