Online safety and teaching students how to behave responsibly in a digital age is something many educators, as well as parents, are grappling with. And within the past year or so, a new trend has cropped up called “sexting"—where teens send naked pictures of themselves through text messages.
It’s become enough of a problem at this point that an organization, the N.J.-based Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication, has been created to help teachers and parents teach teens about appropriate use of technology. Their flagship curriculum is concisely titled “Sexting is Stupid.”
A survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy found that about 20 percent of teens admitted to posting or sending nude, or semi-nude, pictures of themselves, compared to 33 percent of young adults, aged 20-26. Most teens, 71 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys, say that they shared those images with their boyfriends or girlfriends. The survey, which gathered responses from about 1,280 people, found that most—75 percent—believed that sharing sexually suggestive content with others can have negative consequences.
Digital Directions Senior Writer Michelle Davis recently caught up with Ting-Yi Oei, an assistant principal at Freedom High School in Loudoun County, Va., who was wrongfully charged with possession of child pornography after investigating a “sexting” incident at his school. The incident raises some serious questions about technology in school and what administrators need to know about it. Listen to her audio interview here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.