Friday, February 20, 2009

Sexting & Texting; Schools Role

In the last year I have come across a number of articles about students sexting. Sexting is when a person sends a nude picture of themselves to someone else. Students have been arrested for sexting and are facing criminal charges such as child pornography. Besides sexting, according to the Smoking Gun, a student was arrested for texting during class because she refused to stop. She was charged with a crime of disorderly conduct.

While sexting and distracting texting are reasons why schools worry about including cell phones in learning, I believe these two examples are reasons why schools need to include cell phones in learning. The way that students communicate, collaborate, and conduct business (personal or public) over their mobile devices could be both beneficial and detrimental to their futures in the 21st Century workforce. Currently with policies banning cell phones from school campus, teachers get the message that they should ignore cell phones altogether. Which includes talking with students about mobile safety, ethics, and legalese. Students do not understand the ramifications for the media they collect and send on their cell phones. Teachers have an opportunity to help educate students on how to use their cell phones appropriately, for the common good, and for their own upward mobility in the global workforce.

If we continue to focus on the negative, than the U.S. will continue to fall behind other areas of the world that are already using cell phones in learning. Imagine if we only focused on the horrible car accidents and the deaths from those every year in the U.S.? We would ban automobiles. But we also see the common good in cars; for transportation, for the travel industry, for commerce...etc. We even have courses that students are required to take to learn how to drive appropriately and legally. Students need to learn how to navigate their cell phones; appropriately, legally, and for their own futures in this global economy.

Image taken from


irasocol said...

If you don't include it in school, and teach about it, you have abdicated the right to complain.

So here we have two basic parts of teen life which schools refuse to deal with - Adolescent Sex and Mobile Phone Use - coming together to haunt those irresponsible "reality free zones" which are typical in American education.

In Voc/Rehab we have to teach teens appropriate mobile use, appropriate texting, appropriate email etiquette, appropriate web behavior in public (or on the job) because schools have simply not done a thing to prepare their students for the contemporary world.

Charlie Roy said...

An interesting post. Our school stopped banning cell phones this year. Students can use them in class when appropriate and at lunch and in between passing periods. Some faculty believed it would lead to increased drug dealing. The fear some people have is confusing.

Anonymous said...

Surely the issues are moral and ethical ones .... the technology is a distraction and missing the point I feel. We would not accept a student disrobing in class ( and I guess this would be less likely than sending photos because of the lack of immediacy and realness that comes with f2f interactions), so why is virtual potentially more OK for teens? Txting in class is disruptive, but really no more than flicking erasers or constantly calling out.
Surely our role as educators is to examine the moral and ethical issues .... not get distracted by the fact they are related to technology.

Anonymous said...

I am very interested in what other schools are doing about their cell phone policies. I know we need to make changes to our policies to include this. Anyone willing to share?
Jenny Moon
Gadsden City Schools
Gadsden, AL

Liz Kolb, Ph.D. said...

Please see my new post...hopefully this will help in giving some direction!

Chris said...

We've been discussing the use of cell phones in school where I teach, as well as the role of "personal technology" (as the CEO of Sprint put it, these are so much more than phones...and netbooks have to be added into consideration as well) in a brand new high school we're opening in the fall of 2009.

Three things have become abundantly clear to me:

1) Teachers first need to be exposed to the use of technology in education. In many cases, teachers aren't opposed to the use of technology, but are unaware of what is out there. Here in Minnesota, we have a wonderful technology conference for educators sponsored by the organization TIES. In addition to an exhibit hall (which I feel is the most important piece), there are key note addresses, as well as many sessions bu individual presenters.

2) The fear of technology isn't limited to any particular age group. Sometimes we think that only "veteran" teachers are afraid of technology, and that's incorrect. I've seen the same fear from "new" non-tenured teachers, just as much as from veterans, and vice-versa. What saddens me about this is that it is clear that our colleges and universities may not be teaching students how to truly integrate teaching into their instruction. Can we allow that to continue to happen?

3) Again, the most important person to convince about the inclusion of technology is the highest level administrator in your building. It doesn't matter how many people are against the inclusion of technology if the lead administrator can see the potential technology has to offer students. I've been blessed to both teach in a position where the head administrator embraces technology, as well as to be going to an institution where technology is one of our pillars, and thus a focus of the head administrator. Yes, buy-in by staff is important...but the first person to convince is the administrator. Being honest, you may find your IT or Tech Staff resistant to additional technology that exists outside of their control (I don't believe we have that situation, but I know people who do), and that's understandable, too. However, with netbooks in the $300 (or less) department (a Dell Mini 9 was $200 last Friday), and so many smart phones on the market...students are able to supply personal technology faster for themselves than we can supply it for them...and we might as well take advantage of that in our teaching!

Anonymous said...

Parental Control Application for your child's mobile phone
Monitor your child's camera phone activity with this great app!
Get involved and help put a STOP to SEXTING and cyber-bullying!

Visit the website for more great features

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