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Saturn is an online platform that allows high school students to track and manage their classes, homework assignments, and activities. Students can keep their calendars private, or share them with other students, which opens up the possibility of sharing notes about homework assignments and other activities.
Saturn was created in 2018 by high school student Dylan Diamond, an experienced app builder, as a simple calendar app. The idea for Saturn developed out of his frustration from managing his school’s confusing “block schedule.” The app grew in popularity among students in Dylan’s school, then surrounding schools.
Saturn uses notifications to update students on homework assignments, school delays or cancellations, schedule changes, and friend requests. Calendars can be private or shareable with others in a student’s school. Communities are closed so only people who go to that school can join that network. Each student’s calendar shows their courses, gives them information on when it starts and ends, and more.
Teachers and administrators at each school are free to use Saturn to keep track of their schedule and better organize their school days. They may not, however, communicate with students on Saturn.
Saturn currently operates on iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and Android, and will have a full web version soon.
Saturn says that it does not advertise or sell data. As an independent company, Saturn has no legal affiliation with schools, although the app’s advisors include students, teachers, and internet safety experts.
Students start by downloading the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. They are then asked to sign in with their high school email address. Once their email address is verified as belonging to a particular school, students are logged in and add their classes from the pre-populated list of courses at their school.
Saturn generates lists of courses using publicly available information from school websites and the Department of Education. Volunteer student “ambassadors” ensure that the pre-populated course schedules are accurate.
After adding their full class schedule to Saturn, students can monitor their schedule in real-time with a “shot-clock” timer. The timer shows students how much time is left in a class and what class is coming up next.
Students on Saturn can set due dates, reminders, and enter notes on their homework assignments, in a sense allowing students to “crowdsource” their homework notes by collecting information from students in the same class.
According to Saturn creator Diamond, “Saturn will introduce new features in the coming year, including extracurricular activities and event tracking, and student-to-student messaging,” which updated versions of this guide will discuss in greater detail.
Saturn is available at several hundred high schools in the U.S., and is expanding to new high schools. Saturn allows students to register their interest for the product by downloading Saturn in the App Store or Google Play Store; applying to become a Saturn Ambassador at www.joinsaturn.com; or emailing the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students can keep schedules public or make them private by going to:
Profile > Menu > Edit Profile > Private.
Any Saturn user at a school can view public schedules. In private mode, a schedule is blocked from all members of a high school. The owner of the schedule can, however, approve users to view their schedule.
Saturn’s Community Guidelines state that the company does not “recommend sharing personal information in your calendar (if in public mode) or in messages on Saturn.” To keep data private, Saturn restricts users to communicate only within their school’s network. Saturn also has no advertising and says that it does not sell user data.
Users are encouraged to contact email@example.com to report concerns.
Staying Safe on Saturn
Reporting. Reporting instances of misuse in the Saturn app:
Go to Settings, tap on the mail icon, and the mail client on your device will be brought up with the Saturn address in it.
Reporting by email:
Report concerns or ask questions to the company by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal information. Parents and teachers should remind students to be careful about sharing any personally identifiable information on social media and publicly viewable platforms. Information like phone number, home address, financial and medical information should never be posted in public settings.
Community guidelines. Saturn has created strict community guidelines that are intended to assist community members in staying positive and preventing misuse and negativity. The guidelines include the following messages for students:
- Show respect for others
- High school students and teachers only
- Respect laws (unlawful activity is prohibited on Saturn)
- If you need help get help (Saturn steers students toward help from crisis counselors via Crisis Text Line when needed)
- Protect private information
- Keep your school community safe
Bullying. Bullying violates Saturn’s Community Guidelines. Make sure to talk to your kids about why bullying is wrong. Also remind them to talk to you or any other trusted adult if they are ever on the receiving end of bullying or unwanted content. For more advice on talking to your kids about cyberbullying, see ConnectSafely’s A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying.
Closing Thoughts for Parents
You probably grew up at a time when the only way to keep track of your school schedule was with pen and paper or in your head. You also probably paid your bills by check, made travel arrangements by phone and had no access to the myriad of apps and websites that we all take for granted.
But things are very different for today’s high school students. Many have had access to smart phones for years and have come to rely on them for everything from socializing to taking and sharing pictures to arranging their school-life. That’s where Saturn fits in. It’s a tool that can make their lives easier and more productive. Unlike apps like Instagram and Snapchat, it’s not designed for socializing. But any app that allows for communication and interaction can be misused. So it’s still a good idea to remind your student to never say anything on any interactive tool that they don’t want repeated, to take advantage of all apps’ privacy tools and to report any abuse or misuse.
And, as with any app, it’s also a great idea to talk with your kids about how they are using Saturn. Ask them how it helps them organize their schedule and their school life and don’t make it a one-time conversation.
Finally, while we love the idea of your kids using digital tools to help organize their hectic lives, we also want them to put their phones down now and then, look around, talk to people, go for walks and remember that not everything great in life is seen through a screen. And, by the way, that goes for adults too.
Top 5 Questions about Saturn from Parents
1. Is Saturn a social network?
Not in the traditional sense. Saturn is a utility with social features. As with anything online, there are risks. Parents and teachers can help young people manage those risks by encouraging them to post and share content responsibly.
2. Are there any risks to using Saturn?
Many adults worry that new technologies and apps distract students from their education, especially if used during the school day. Saturn differs from traditional social media and gaming apps that typically concern adults because Saturn is in essence a utility. All interactive technology has some risks if not used properly. Again, students should be reminded not to use Saturn or any other app to share private information or be mean to others. If a student feels that he or she has been bullied or harassed through Saturn or any other app, they should report it and seek help from parents, school officials and peers.
3. Should my teen’s account be private?
Saturn allows students to choose if they would like to keep their school schedule available for their classmates to view, or completely private. If kept public, they are able to benefit from crowdsourced course assignment information (knowing what is due when) and note sharing. Students can also interact with their peers about their schedule if it is kept public. Regardless of if a schedule is private or public, no one outside of the school’s networks will be able to view this schedule.
4. Does Saturn have a minimum age?
5. How does Saturn get information about a school’s course schedule?
Saturn uses publicly available information to build a course catalog for each high school. Users are able to select courses from the list to build their personal schedule. Saturn Ambassadors and users may inform Saturn of problems or mistakes in the course information by contacting email@example.com.