Private Chat, The Good and The Bad

A discussion on the Pro's and Con's of Private Chat

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Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Is Private Chat good or bad? Join in the discussion!

Liliana Owen, Journalist

A question was sent out to about twenty-five random Burgers: “Is private chat good? Is it bad? Why or why not?” Their answers—with a wide variety of well thought out opinions—proved private chat to be a controversial topic. Some Burgers were in favor of it, others decidedly against it, and still others liked it in moderation.

One Burger, Kadrianna Peterson said, “I think private chat can be good and bad. I have had an experience where I was shown some pretty disturbing things. I wish zoom had a setting where mentors could read the private chat.”

Another student, Makayla Jonas, shared the following: “I think private chat can be a great tool to use to be able to get to know people and make new friends! There have been many times where I have made friends and been able to talk to them through private chat, which has built great relationships for me!”

The Good

Private chat is a great way to have conversations with people you perhaps couldn’t have otherwise or to continue discussing a topic after the class has already moved on, leaving behind some nuggets of wisdom. Emily Naratko agrees, saying, “I think that private chat is a great way to have a conversation with people that you maybe don’t want to have with the whole class. I’m not saying it should be completely off-topic, as you can have those conversations outside of class. I think it’s great because sometimes people have responded to something I’ve said in public chat, and we want to continue talking about what I said, without distracting the rest of the chat because … chat moves from one topic to the next quite quickly.”

The Bad

There are bad aspects of private chat as well. Almost every student who was asked acknowledged that private chat can be both good and bad, and needs to be used wisely. One Burger, Sabrina Ferrell stated, “I think … private chat distracts people.”

Gabriel M Chandler, another student at Williamsburg, said, “My opinion is that it’s a good thing if you need to talk to your teachers. But on the other hand, it’s a bad thing if you use it to talk to your friends and not focus on class.”

Regan Abbott, another Burger, adds, “The option of private chat can distract us students from the lesson being taught.” Lexie Ellingson chimes in, “Teachers are there to teach, and it’s our job to learn. We shouldn’t have something distract us from learning when we took the time to come to class and get an education.”

Jordana Seegmiller said, “Private chat can also be used for bad things like bullying and conversations that are not always school appropriate.” That is a very valid point; cyberbullying (the use of technology to harass/bully someone) is a growing concern. Roughly a third of young people in the USA between the ages of 12 and 17 have been cyber bullied1.

The Question Is …

Everything and anything can be good and bad; it all depends on how we use it. To quote Qwynn Southwick, another Burger who was asked about private chat, “I think private chat is good. But it has to be used correctly. There are many times where I have a question that I would like to use private chat for, but I can’t because it is disabled. And in some classes, you can’t even private chat your mentor. We, students, should be able to private chat our mentor and have that privacy we deserve. If students don’t use it correctly, I think that teachers should message the student and work things out with the student. But not make the rest of the class have to deal with the student’s choice on how to use the private chat. … There are students out there who use/used private chat correctly but won’t be able to use it again in that class, because of someone who used it incorrectly. I think that in a way, that is taking away our privacy. And it is unfair to the people who use it right.”

Zoom does have its faults. Mentors and hosts can’t monitor private chat in Zoom classrooms. Echoing this line of thought, several students said that they would be in favor of private chat if hosts could monitor it. Liam Kelly said, “I think we should not have private chat because we can’t monitor what people say to others.” Kadriana Peterson shared, “I wish Zoom had a setting where mentors could read private chat. If there is no such setting then I think private chat should not be allowed.”

But perhaps there could be a compromise? Yesenia Aiton offered one when she said, “I think we should be able to talk until the Minute of Silence.”

What is YOUR opinion on private chat? Share in the comments below!

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 Bibliography

1: Do Something. “11 Facts About Cyber Bullying.” DoSomething.org. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts- about-cyber-bullying#fnref1