I think you should read this article first and then we'll talk!!
So maybe I am late coming to this google doc party, but usually parents give me a heads up about these kinds of things, and I haven't heard a word about it. So kids have found a new inventive way to chat when they are in school, or you are hovering over them to make sure they are doing homework and not snap chatting or instagraming away. I have to give these kids props for creativity and problem solving. Seriously, they are really good at figuring out how to work a system. Let's hope this all translates to a very successful adulthood!! But in the meantime.....
Why is this a problem? It is a problem because it is yet ANOTHER distraction! Some subject areas are just not sexy and interesting, so they need more attentive learners to absorb the material. Distracted learners just cannot retain complex material without attention. I know even when I am doing something that feels hard, I LOVE it when someone calls or I have to answer a text, ANYTHING to avoid confronting something I don't understand or that doesn't capture my interest. In the old days, I guess I just used to eat myself into oblivion, jumping up for multiple snacks to avoid, but at least when the subject was in front of me it had my full attention. There are many research studies now that confirm that our brains just do not multitask the way we wish they would. If you are studying calculus while maintaining a very stimulating conversation through google doc while your teacher is explaining some major concept, your brain will definitely pay attention to the more interesting gossip tidbit...calculus be damned!!!
What can you do? Let your teen know that you know that this google doc thing is the new game in town. Read together this article. At the least give them the information to make an informed decision about their motivation and learning. https://childmind.org/article/kids-shouldnt-use-phones-during-homework/. Though this article is about smartphones, google docs are just another way to connect easily with friends, when phones are not available.
I have to say that controlling this google doc messaging will be almost impossible to, especially if the homework they literally have to do is on google doc. This is going to be an education/conversation, rather than I if I find out you're using google docs in school I'll take away your computer conversation. As in "hey honey, this is going to be hard to control, staying in touch with friends on google doc during class time and homework. You are going to have to decide what is important to you, and whether maintaining an ongoing "conversation" with so and so is more important in that moment than listening and working in class. What do you think would help?"
At the least your are letting them know you understand all the temptations that are out there, and helping to at least bring their awareness into it. God this stuff is hard!!
PS: I have recently completed this short film. It is an area between parents and teens I think is really important...The Power Of Understanding. It is 4 minutes long and so far parents have found it really helpful. Here is the YouTube link to my film. I would love it if you would share it on facebook or twitter or just send it to a few friends you think might find it meaningful. I hope you like it!