We are all familiar with the old adage about tools being neither good nor evil, and generally I think this is true with the technology tools of today.  The underlying issue is the behavior exhibited by people, and not the iPad, laptop, Internet, cell phone, etc.  However, the recent death of a young teenage girl named Rebecca (read more) puts technology and behavior right in front of us.

The technology that allows us to share photos, book reviews, and birthday greetings with family and friends is the same technology that can be used to hurt people. A generation ago people were bullied, but bullying required that someone confront another person directly, in person, or leave notes and write letters.  There was a personal element to that sort of bullying, and it required effort.

What makes the technology available today so effective is the ease with which it can used to quickly reach and mobilize dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people within hours.  The posts and campaigns may not be accurate but the truth is often lost in the deluge created by an initial story.  Someone posts, another person responds, then “friends” see and begin to respond.

While the technology of today allows us to mobilize for good causes, it also provides greater opportunity for abuse, and this abuse can be intentional, malicious, even anonymous, or made with fake identities.

The technology isn’t going away, so what can one do as a school community member?  Talk to kids, engage them in discussions about their behavior and treatment of others.  Recognize kindness and empathy, and hold that behavior up for others to see and emulate.  Be involved by checking to see what a student has installed on their computing device, and by listening to the stories students tell one another.

CommonSenseMedia.Org has a new blog posting about 11 new Social Media technologies that are popular with teens.  Check them out to see what your students are likely to be using.