Dealing with Technology in the Classroom

by Dana Quigley

Cell Phones & Sexting | Social Networking & Cheating | Cyber-Bullying & Cyber-Bashing
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As the latest technology makes its way into the classroom, teachers and students alike are often confronted with sensitive problems and social issues that arise with the use and exploitation of such tools. Below are the most pressing problems that technology presents, warning signs for teachers, and ways for them to deal with the issues.

Cell Phones

Teachers regularly cite cell phones as one of the most menacing distractions in the classroom. According to the CTIA-The Wireless Association, teen cell phone use has risen 35% since 2005; today, 79% of teenagers use a cell phone.

Why are they a problem? The latest technology provides many opportunities for students to cheat on exams by sharing pictures of tests, text messaging answers to other students, and listening to wireless ear-devices for answers. The presence of cell phones in the classroom both undermines the ultimate goal of education and detracts from the learning experience. In addition, cell phones are the most commonly stolen item among students, which creates unwanted frustrations for teachers, administrators, and parents. Other problems concerning cell phone usage are described below.

How to spot the problem: Cell phones are pretty obvious, so they are not too hard to spot. If a student appears distracted and seems to be fidgeting with something in a bag or under a desk, the student is likely using a cell phone.

What to do: A general ban on cell phones is practiced in most schools. Give offenders a two- or three-strike policy with different levels of punishment for repeat offenders. For instance, a first-time offender may lose his or her cell phone for the day, but a third-time offender may lose it for a month. This type of punishment can be problematic since parents generally pay for cell phones and rely on them to stay in contact with their children, so you may want to have parents sign a form that details your policy on cell phones. To ease the resistance against an outright ban, it may be beneficial to allow cell phone use during lunch periods, which provides students with a monitored and regulated outlet.


What is it? Sexting, a contraction of "sex" and "text messaging," is the transmission of sexually provocative pictures via cell phone. Most cell phones are capable of sending video, pictures, and connecting to the Internet. An increasing number of hormonally charged teens send suggestive pictures of themselves to others. In fact, nearly 20% of teens have sent, forwarded, or received sexts, according to Cox Communications.

Why is it a problem? Though it is not new for teenagers to explore their sexuality, the harm of sexting comes from the ability of pictures to be shared and viewed by any number of people. A sexted picture can also be used in cyber-bully attacks (see cyber-bullying below). Sexters can face legal charges. An act that was originally meant to be flirtatious can result in a sexter being charged as a sex offender or child pornographer.

How to spot the problem: Since most sexting takes place between two individuals, there will be few obvious signs, but pay attention to hallway and lunchroom chatter.

What to do: Warn your students of the dangers of sexting and immediately report any sexting activity to a school administrator. Reporting the alleged activity is sufficient. Taking steps to preserve sexted images could result in your own legal battle, so do not attempt to take possession of any images.

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