From cyberbullying to privacy concerns, today’s connected teens face a host of ethical dilemmas and potential dangers. Use these twelve discussion starters to ignite meaningful conversations with teens about responsible ways to get connected while staying safe online:
- You started a fake Twitter account to learn more about someone you have a crush on. Now you’ve started messaging back and forth a lot—but the person still doesn’t know it’s you. What do you do?
- You went to a party you weren’t supposed to go to, and now several people have posted photos with you in them. You untag yourself, but the pictures are still out there. What do you do?
- Driving to work on the first day of your summer job, you get caught in traffic. You have your phone, but it’s illegal to use it while driving. Still, you don’t want to start on the wrong foot. What do you do?
- An unpopular boy at school wants to be Facebook friends with you, but you are too embarrassed to include him. Your friends will make fun of you. What do you do?
- Someone you chat with in an online game starts asking about your family and where you live. You’ve chatted with the person before, but you’ve never met. What do you do?
- Your mom forgot to log off, and when you sit down at the computer someone you don’t know starts up a chat with her. What do you do?
- Someone takes a photo with his phone of you changing in the locker room. You saw him do it, but he denies it. You’re furious. What do you do?
- You love blogs, especially the comments. After reading a controversial article, you notice someone posted an offensive comment. You know that responding will only add fuel to the fire, but you’re really mad. What do you do?
- Two friends are arguing by text and forwarding you each other’s messages with nasty comments attached, hoping to get you to take a side. You feel torn. What do you do?
- A teacher sends you a friend request on Facebook. He’s your favorite teacher, but it doesn’t feel right. What do you do?
- You find out that some kids have a website where they post stories and pictures of girls at school who they say are “sluts.” You check it out, and you have to admit you’ve heard some of the rumors before. What do you do?
- A teacher believes you were using your phone to cheat on a test. He demands that you hand over the phone so he can check for notes. You didn’t cheat. What do you do?
For more thought-provoking challenges to get teens thinking about the choices they make online, check out Cyber Dilemmas In a Jar®: Challenges for Teens.
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Words Wound by Justin Patchin and Sameer Hinduja
These are important discussions to have with teens. They need to know that what occurs online stays online. It is difficult for teens to think further ahead than a few months or years. They can’t imagine the repercussions of their actions.