EDUCATION BLACKBOARD

SCHOOL BEAT

Cell Phones: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly!

by PRINCIPAL DAN ZANG
Rockford High School

Technology has afforded us the ability to do many wondrous and creative activities in education today. Our teachers and students have enhanced and enriched educational experiences to new levels. The immediacy of information and the countless ways to express and communicate are fascinating. Many of our students at Rockford High School are using their cell devices in a very positive, pro-educational way.

Sadly there is great evidence that demonstrates there is also a downside to possessing the devices. Our high school, much like many in the U.S., addresses the issue of distracted driving. A recent study noted that more than 33% of teens 16-17 years of age have texted while driving on a regular basis; 50% of the same teens say they have been in a car while the driver was texting. Distracted driving at any age is a risk behavior; younger inexperienced drivers are at an even greater risk. Parents, please talk to your sons and daughters about distracted driving!

To be very honest I did not see the next issue coming: sex and technology. Sexting is sending sexually explicit text or photographs via mobile devices. Teens will share the photographs voluntarily or at times be coerced to share. Once the photos are sent, some kids use them to bully, harass, intimidate or embarrass victims online or via mobile devices.

Here are five things to consider before pressing send:

1. Don’t assume anything you send or post is going to remain private. Your message or images will get passed around at some point.

2. There is no changing your mind in cyberspace—anything you send or post will never truly go away. Potential employers, college recruiters, teachers, coaches, parents, friends, enemies, strangers, and others may all be able to find posts, even after you delete them.

3. Don’t give in to the pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even in cyberspace. More than 40% of teens and young adults say “pressure from guys” is a reason girls and women send and post sexual images and messages.

4. Consider the recipient’s reaction. Just because a message is meant to be fun doesn’t mean the person who gets it will see it that way. It is easier to be more provocative and outgoing online, but whatever you write, post or send does contribute to the real life impression you are making.

5. Nothing is truly anonymous. It is important to remember that even if someone only knows you by screen name, online profile, phone number or e-mail address, they can probably find you if they try hard enough.

I came across the following statement a while ago that seems fitting to close: “We seem to forget that our kids can be as tech savvy as Bill Gates but as gullible as Bambi… parents need to remind their teens that a dumb moment can last a lifetime in cyberspace.”

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