Ohio Middle School Launches ‘Drama Free Technology’ Program

Officials at Hamilton, Ohio’s Fairfield Middle School tell students, “Wait 10 seconds before you repost this,” to encourage students to use electronic devices wisely.

by Eric Robinette, Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio / October 2, 2015

(TNS) -- School leaders had a message for Fairfield Middle School students this week: Take 10 seconds before posting a photo or message on social media that might hurt someone — or cause them to hurt themselves.

Fairfield Middle School has launched a "Drama Free Technology" program to encourage students to use electronic devices wisely. Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions visited the school on Monday and Thursday.

Middle School Principal Lincoln Butts cautioned students about potentially harming their future because things they post on social media can come back to haunt them.

"If you decide that you're going to take that picture, all I'm asking you to do is take 10 … think about it for 10 seconds. Does my 'future you' really want me to send this picture? Because remember — that's who's going to have to pay the consequences for those actions," Butts said.

The leader of the presentation was Stephen Smith, the director of educational leadership for Cincinnati Bell, who said that those with depression are five times more likely to take their lives if they are bullied online. Even if parents remove a child from a school, bullying can still follow them on social media.

"For every irresponsible digital action, there may be a cataclysmic digital reaction," Smith said.

Smith asked students if they used the app Snapchat, which is famous for its disappearing pictures. Many students raised their hands. But Smith told them that even if a photo disappears from Snapchat, it never truly goes away.

Talking about a girl who sent a naked picture of herself to a boy who posted it online, Smith said, "Her penalty is the ultimate penalty because forever, this is a naked photograph of her on a web server on the Internet that she will never be able to get rid of."

Digital photos and posts people would rather forget can follow a student well into adult life, Smith said.

"Will that photograph come up when they're doing a background check, or when she applies for a job? The decisions you make in the seventh and eighth grade can come back to haunt you later in life. It may not be fair, but you're the first generation that's ever going to deal with that," Smith said.

Terri Calla, a parent and PTC member at Middle School said she and other parents were very surprised by a presentation specifically for parents on Monday when they learned about apps that look like a clock but are actually be for messaging.

"Parents are forgetting that with the children in their care, that phone is not (the child's) property, it's yours. I still have to parent my child because everything my child does is a reflection on me," she said.

Emilie Olsen was a seventh-grader at Fairfield Middle School last year when she took her own life in December. Since then, Fairfield City Schools has been under pressure regarding how they handled the case, which included cyberbullying via an Instagram account.

The Middle School's eighth-grade assistant principal, Eileen Ernst, brought the program in after seeing it used in New Miami Local Schools.

"Some teachers (in Fairfield) had discussions in their classrooms," she said. "We've had a lot of positives … it just helps our students realize, think before you post."

©2015 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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