Opinion
Classroom Technology Letter to the Editor

Online Choices Have Offline Consequences—For Everyone

January 05, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In November, it was revealed that at least 100 students at a Colorado high school traded naked pictures of themselves as part of a large “sexting” ring.

These students are not alone; a recent study of Texas high school students conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that more than 25 percent of students surveyed said they had sent a naked photo of themselves to someone.

Clearly, more research is needed to better understand the prevalence of sexting. But we don’t need to wait for more research to do something about it, and this latest incident is a wake-up call that we need to take action now. A first step is understanding that while the mechanism is new, the behavior is not. Technology is merely facilitating the ease with which teens communicate and receive validation—a developmentally and socially normative behavior.

Recently, Common Sense Media—the nonprofit organization I founded to teach kids and teens how to safely navigate media and technology—released a media-use report that found America’s teens are spending, on average, up to nine hours a day with media.

The growing popularity of electronics in our lives underscores the pressing need for digital citizenship. We must work to make sure the next generation knows how to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly both online and off.

Unfortunately, incidents like the case in Colorado could lead to lifetime damage for the young people involved. Just as new drivers need to go through an education course before they are allowed to get behind the wheel of a car, today’s young people need guidance from both school and parents to learn digital-citizenship skills.

James P. Steyer

Chief Executive Officer and Founder

Common Sense Media

San Francisco, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the January 06, 2016 edition of Education Week as Online Choices Have Offline Consequences—For Everyone

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Opinion How Schools Can Stem the Toxic Tide of Technology
Students' relationships, motivation, mood, sleep, and safety—all are at risk, writes researcher Andy Hargreaves.
Andy Hargreaves
5 min read
Illustration of girl using computer
Yulia Sutyagina/iStock/Getty Images Plus<br/>
Classroom Technology The Number One Reason Students Still Lack Internet at Home: Parents Can't Afford It
Many families can't afford the cost of internet connectivity, even if they live in areas that are wired for broadband, a new report shows.
2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.
iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok Make Teachers' Jobs More Difficult and Dangerous, Union Says
Social media spreads misinformation and emboldens students to damage school property, the National Education Association says.
2 min read
Image of hands on a keyboard with social media icons popping up.
Urupong/iStock/Getty
Classroom Technology Combating the Problems With Facebook and Instagram: 8 Tips for Teachers
Facebook did extensive research on its negative impact on children’s mental health, but didn't act on those findings, a whistleblower says.
5 min read
Image of a child's hand on a keyboard.
kiankhoon/IStock/Getty