4 Ways to Address Sexting in the Classroom

Parent Training 1The headlines like to shock, 'teenagers in nude pic row', 'small town in teen sexting epidemic' ...again today it's being widely reported that in a recent nationwide study a mere 1 out of 5 girls are classed as enjoying a healthy self esteem, social media being in the dock yet again as the root cause. Are we to believe the hype and allow ourselves a knee jerk reaction to this growing problem or see it as not dissimilar to the ' show me yours and I'll show you mine' game from youth?

Firstly we need to understand why it's so popular even with the knowledge that in some circumstances it is against the law. 'Media hype' is correct in its suggestion that it’s practiced by a high number of teens. So, why is this the case? There are many factors that drive this behaviour...teenage behaviour experts have spoken of the natural instinct within young people to behave in a risky fashion; to explore their sexuality, discover their adult selves, break rules, feel 'naughty'... alongside this, the impact of the humble Smartphone and its never-ending options, like Snapchat and the instant Photoshop opportunities can't be underestimated. But, I think most of all it’s because of the good old craving to be told you're attractive and to feel desired, narcissism in all its glory - of which we are all not immune. All at a time when hormones are raging and there's this burning ambition to just 'fit in' and be popular.

If we delve a little deeper into other studies centred around the subject, there are other interesting finds that give us a deeper insight into the teenage mind, which fuel my ' PSHE teacher brain'. According to stats, 3 out of 4 teenagers truly believe that any pictures they send that are considered sexy or sexual will only ever be seen by the recipient. Naive perhaps, but we have to see it from their viewpoint - that it’s being sent to a person they see as being trustworthy and because they are still learning about relationships, their inexperience can be their undoing. Rather than displaying a cavalier attitude to their privacy and decency, is what is actually happening within the realms of 'normal' sexual experimentation? The survey goes on to state that out of the teens who partake in sexting, they perceive what they are doing as not being wrong and that it’s their choice... and apparently I discovered that cases of pictures being shared without permission were rare and unusual. However I'm sure that there are many cases that aren't reported due to the nature of the problem and the fact they would not want the police to get involved, or parents to find out.

I see the problems with sexting as being when young people are coerced or pressured to take and send sexual photos of themselves with the direct intension of being shared and their privacy abused. This is where the dangers lie with this issue and it can leave vulnerable individuals, normally girls, becoming victims of truly horrible experiences that can have far reaching consequences into adulthood.

So, yes, education is badly needed to make young people aware of all sides of this issue, including the law and where they stand should they take a picture, send it or worse share it. Ultimately, teenagers will always have a natural inclination toward this kind of behaviour, but at the very least we can be sure that they will be making decisions with all the facts and their complexities explained to them.

Below are some suggestions to the help you quickly get to the heart of the issue during lessons and spark classroom debate.
1. Be clear...Respect the law! Respect yourself and respect others (you could be breaking the law if you share)
2. Understand the consequences of your actions, imagine your 'worst case scenario' - think twice before pressing send. Question your actions.
3. Get the students to ask themselves 'what do I want to achieve from this?' ...could I get my desired outcome another way other than sending sexual pictures?
4. Finally, be realistic. Will sending pictures really bag the boyfriend/girlfriend of your dreams? The chances are probably not. If they respect you they will not ask you to do it. Never be talked into doing it!

If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas on how to tackle this topic with your class, please use the comment section below. E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members can also download related assembly and lesson plans from your dashboard.

Written by Vicki Dan on November 13, 2014 11:42

A look at some new Apple and Android educational apps for 2013

It is always a little disheartening writing an article on new apps or websites as you always know in the back of your mind that, as a consequence of how fast technology improves and upgrades and the sheer avalanche of creativity that app designers apparently possess, you know that in a few months time newer software and upgrades will become available and eclipse those contained in this article. That said, it is always worth summarising useful resources to inform educational professionals of apps that they may wish to use with their students.

Math Bingo

Maths Bingo is all about numbers and aims to assist young students to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide through the game of Bingo.

The application sets a series of questions dependent on the student's choice and their individual level of maths skills. The app contains a timer that counts down so the student can practice getting quicker by trying to beat their personal best; however, they can start using the app without the clock to begin with so that they can nurture their skills without that additional pressure.

This app is available for iOS and Android devices and is priced at 69p.

Highlighted Features

  • The app is colourful and features a series of small bug aliens to make the learning experience even more fun.

  • Students can win Bingo Bugs that they can then use in a game of 'Bingo Bug Bungie', which is a kind of pinball game where you fire your collected bugs to knockout coins to beat your highest score.
  • Math Bingo can be downloaded from The Apple App Store or The Android AppStore.

    Oxford Picture Dictionary, Second Edition

    This excellent application offers instant mobile access to Oxford's bestselling picture dictionary. The app can either be used alone or merged with Oxford's print dictionary to provide teachers with the perfect vocabulary resource for their students.

    This free app is available from the Apple App Store and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad although it is optimised for the iPhone 5.

    Highlighted Features

  • The Oxford Picture Dictionary, Second Edition introduce students to over 4,000 terms, which is structured into 12 subject areas. These include Everyday Language, People, Housing, Food and Recreation etc. In order to assist students in placing words and images into their correct contexts, each of the areas includes common phrases and expressions from everyday life.

  • The app uses vibrant art and an easy-to-use format to assist in engaging students.

  • The software helps teachers by delivering unlimited independent practice and multiple exposures to the terms to their students.

  • The helpful zoom feature enhances the students' experience of the vocabulary within each scene and image.

  • The app features a bookmark tool, which offers the capability to store any entry that simplifies the searching for terms.

  • The app also features a helpful search function that speeds-up the searching for any any term in the dictionary.
  • The Oxford Picture Dictionary can be downloaded from The Apple App Store.

    POETRY from the Poetry Foundation

    This excellent app which will operate on all the latest versions of the iOS and Android operating system, allows students mobile access to thousands of poems by classic and contemporary poets, from William Shakespeare to César Vallejo to Heather McHugh. The Poetry Foundation’s app, which was nominated for a WEBBY award, turns any iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a mobile poetry library.

    The Poetry Foundation’s app is both compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad but does require iOS 4.3 or later. It is also available on all Android devices but does require version 1.6 or later. The app is completely free.

    Due to the language contained within some of the poems, the app is recommended for students who are 12 years old or above.

    Highlighted Features

  • The app offers a search engine that can search for poems, which are old favorites containing memorable lines.

  • If the student shakes the device the app will find new poems to fit any mood.

  • The app allows students to save their favorite poems if they wish to read or share later through social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter.

  • The app also allows the sharing of poems via eMail.

  • The app gives students the capability to access poems by T.S. Eliot, Pablo Neruda, Lucille Clifton, Emily Dickinson, and many others.
  • POETRY can be downloaded from The Apple App Store or The Android AppStore.

    See. Touch. Learn.

    'See. Touch. Learn.' Is a wonderful picture card learning system that is aimed at replacing physical flash cards. It is specifically designed by experts for young autistic students and those children with other special needs. 'See. Touch. Learn.' has been warmly received by special needs teachers and parents and has been the winner of numerous awards.

    'See. Touch. Learn.' is compatible with iPad only and does require iOS 5.1 or later. The application is free although a pro version is available the price of £27.99

    Highlighted Features

  • The application begins with a starter set of high-quality images and 60 exercises created by a certified assistant behavior analyst.

  • Teachers can also buy additional libraries that contain over 4,400 supplementary images and lessons. These can purchased from within the app.

  • Recently, the app developers have added the capability to link to the 'Brain Parade Community', which offers access to thousands of lessons shared by others.
  • See. Touch. Learn. can be downloaded from The Apple App Store.


    MathBoard is slightly more expensive than other maths apps; however, this application has the additional benefit that it can be easily configured for students of any age. The app starts with simple addition and subtraction problems, multiplication and division, and algebra.

    MathBoard utilizes an interesting blackboard theme and a multiple choice question format; however, it does encourage students to work out solutions with a really nice scratchboard function where students can chalk their working.

    The app is only available on iOS devices and there is a free version of the app that only tackles addition so teachers can try the app before deciding to purchase. The full version, however is priced at £2.99.

    Highlighted features

  • The app incorporates a problem solver feature that guides the students systematically through the steps required to solve the each problem or equation.

  • Within MathBoard, there are quick reference tables to hand to assist students.

  • MathBoard is completely configurable, so that teachers can decide what the scope of learning will be by determining what number ranges to cover or take out negative answers, etc.

  • For an added element of pressure, there is an option to time the various activities and quizzes, by either a countdown timer or elapsed time.
  • MathBoard can be downloaded from The Apple App Store.

    If you would like to let other teachers know about an app you are using with your class, please let us know using the comments section below

    Written by Steve Gresty on September 18, 2013 09:46

    Gaming Addiction

    As teachers, we regularly come across some of the hazards of the addictive qualities of computer games. I'm sure you will be familiar with the students who enter the classroom in a dream-like state, collapse into their chair and promptly put their head down on the desk and when you enquire as to the reason for their exhausted condition they mumble something like "I was playing 'Call of Duty' until 1am". Similar situations, such as the one described above, are played out in classrooms across the country and I'm sure that student's obsession with computer games is one of the main reasons that homework does not get completed on time.

    There is, however, a more sinister consequence to gaming addiction.

    In 2007, a 13 year old Vietnamese boy from Hanoi strangled an 81 year old woman for just $6.20. When the police interviewed him he said he needed the money to fund his obsession of playing online games.

    In 2008, a teenager from Ohio, Daniel Petric, was convicted of shooting his mother and father because they had forbidden him to play 'Halo 3'. In court, Daniel's Defence Attorney stated that he was obsessed with the 'Halo' series of video games, which he played 18 hours a day when he had the chance!

    In 2012, an online 'Xbox live' skirmish pushed a 17 year old to exchange his joystick for a knife and a gun, enter 20 year old Kevin Kemp's home, shoot at him and stab him 22 times.

    Research, such as the study that was carried out by Chih-Hung Ko, a neurobiologist at the Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues in 2008, has proved that the extreme desire to play that gamers, who are obsessed by their favourite games, demonstrate, has the same neurological symptoms as drug addicts craving their next fix. The scientific study discovered that under MRI imaging the same areas of the brains of gaming addicts 'lit up' as those of addicts craving narcotics.

    Dr. Ko's research was carried out as a consequence of the fact that there are now well over ten million people engaged in the online game 'World of Warcraft' and game statistics have exhibited that some players are spending incredible amounts of time playing the game - some spending 16 to 20 hours a day engaged with the game. This frequently results in their personal life acutely diminishing, they lose touch with their family and friends and their health deteriorates rapidly.

    The phenomena of gaming addiction is increasing so rapidly that in the United States an online group, 'On-line Gamers Anonymous' ( www.olganon.org) has been set up with the aim to help gamers recover from personal issues that have arisen from excessive game-playing. Through an online community of recovering gamers, family members, friends and concerned others, OLGA hopes to support those at the early stages of addiction but encourage professional help to players who maybe exhibiting more serious symptoms. OLGA also exists as a one-stop shop for the gathering and collating of information and research on this new and not necessarily fully understood condition.

    It would be easy to dismiss gaming addiction in young people as purely extreme self-indulgence by immature, lazy, teenagers who need to get a grip and concentrate on 'real life'. With the considerable number of people around the world now playing computer games however, coupled with the highly addictive qualities that game designers engineer into their creations, this attitude would appear to be remiss and irresponsible as plainly the condition of gaming addiction is very real and set to increase at a rapid pace. It is imperative therefore, that more research needs be carried out to fully understand what triggers the condition and to discover what are the best methods of treatment.

    As teachers, it is our job to offer information, awareness and knowledge and to educate people, both young and old, of the dangers becoming addicted to computer games, to ensure that individuals can recognise if they themselves or a friend or relative are demonstrating symptoms that could indicate that their passion is becoming a dangerous addiction.

    To assist you in preparing for your lesson or assembly plan on gaming addiction here are some helpful websites:

    www.video-game-addiction.org - This is a great American site that offers advice to both parents and teenagers on the condition. It offers an explanation of the addiction, describes the symptoms in both adults and teenagers, the different consequences of the condition and possible treatments.

    www.videogameaddiction.co.uk - Although this is a commercial site (part of ADT Healthcare) it contains a lot of detailed information that is clearly explained. There is also additional information on Internet Addiction.

    www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wlmj0 - This BBC Panorama site contains some excellent short videos that would be really useful to break up the pace of a lesson and clearly show how computer games affect some people.

    www.newvision.co.ug/news - This article describes the deceptive behaviour that some computer game addicts can exhibit. It describes how the condition impacted on children, and one child in particular, in a village in America. It is interesting as it describes the different perceptions of both parents and a primary school teacher.

    If you would like to share your teaching tips on tackling this with your students, please add your comments below. Alternatively, visit our lesson plans and assembly plans page for ready-to-use teaching resources supporting this topic.

    Written by Steve Gresty on July 18, 2013 10:16

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