Nowadays, picture and video media apps such as Twitter and Vine have become increasingly popular with the new wave of social networking and technology. With this discovery, teens and young adults have discovered new ways to communicate with friends, like pictures or articles, and even display their own content. In these instances, social media can be harmless, but for one Colorado school Instagram is for more than just snapping selfies.
At Cañon City High School, activities such as parties and football games are normal aspects of everyday life as adolescents. Of course communication is a large part of teen interactment, and with phones at their disposal it’s quite easy to send a ten-second invitation to the park for the weekend. At Cañon City high school, a few creative teens decided to turn the use of an innocent photo sharing app into one of the largest scandals the school has ever seen.
For hundreds of students, social media has been used to exchange racy images of themselves between their friends and classmates via “PhotoVault”. Photovault is an app used to send and receive photos that are only visible to you. With this information at their fingertips, the students decided to turn their snapshot-taking into a game, using a point system depending on the level of value the image held. Because of this, many students were pressured to take part in the game which slowly evolved it into a school-wide phenomenon. Within a few months, thousands of photographs were taken and the exchange system between classmates had exploded. With the scandal finally surfacing, a large percentage of the school’s population was suspended and many families have been hurt upon finding out that their children or their children’s classmates had participated in such a scandalous pastime.
So what does the SLA community think of such an ongoing trend? Most students deemed sexting as something that is simply not for school, or even for minors in general. “I don’t think it’s appropriate,” says sophomore Destiny Patton. “You shouldn’t be taking nude photos in school.”
Some though, took a more diplomatic approach to the situation. Junior Jaiye Omowamide says: “Minors shouldn’t be sending nudes unless they’re in strong relationships. They need mutual communication, but must also be made aware of the consequences.”
SLA technology teacher Marcie Hull also had a few comments to include about our school and how teens should be handling such situations if ever involved. “The line between protecting student privacy and protecting them from their own dangerous behavior moves and changes shape! It is really a student by student decision making process. I try very hard to explain, to students, in a overarching way, how to protect themselves online,” she explains. ” This explanation has to start with the basics of how the internet works and making students realize that if a photograph leaves your hard drive, even if it is put in a cloud storage, the student no longer has control over who sees or could possibly see that photograph, now and forever in the future. That is the long way of saying there is no line as long as the student is aware of how these tools work and how to protect themselves. It is way better for everyone if the lessons learned turn on an intrinsic motivator to keep one’s online life squeaky clean.”
What do you think? Is sexting just some passing fad or do you think it’s just another activity on the list of teen past-times?