Staff Editorial: Abuse of Social Media Prevalent at NHS

Twitter controversies hit NHS during the week of Nov. 2 as multiple “poll accounts” were used to cyber-bully students. In addition to ‘pollgate’ Associate Principal Mr. Chad Buboltz brought negative media attention on NJSD following an inappropriate gesture accidentally broadcast online.

Both instances shed light on the darker side of social media use. Many utilize social media for connection, awareness and convenience however there are still some bully, intimidate and slander.

The Twitter account received administrative intervention shortly after the students felt the sting of its cruelness. After Twitter added the poll feature in Oct. ‘NHS Polls’ appeared hosting multiple hurtful polls pitting students against each other. Mr. Timothy Kachur confronted the account on Nov. 6 through another media platform: Schoology. Kachur addressed the students through the website by saying, “Tools like Twitter and Facebook were created to allow people to connect and maintain relationships or to become more knowledgeable about their passions. Some have found that these tools are simply a convenient way to be a coward, causing others emotional or psychological stress.”

A similar statement was also issued on the announcements that same day to secure awareness in the student body.

Even more recent, the high school administrator, Buboltz let a YouTube livestream get the better of him. On Dec. 22 a video of Buboltz making an offensive gesture (raising his middle fingers to the camera) was posted to YouTube where students then grasped it and reposted multiple manipulations. Reposted versions have up to 10,000 views. Students used the event to springboard already present issues they held with Buboltz. Once again, NJSD staff responded quickly to the incident. Buboltz went on the intercom the morning after and expressed: “I have no excuses for my mistakes.” He apologized for his actions and encouraged the student body to use the incident as a learning opportunity and strive to act appropriately. According to Mr. Jim Strick: “Chad was at his computer giving a message and some other people were on another computer seeing if it worked.”

Additionally a general statement to the local media said: “A valuable lesson related to livestreaming video was learned by a Neenah High School administrator who unknowingly recorded an inappropriate gesture on Tuesday. The administrator has taken full responsibility for his unprofessional behavior and apologized to students, staff and families for his actions. While the Neenah Joint School District expects its students to engage in appropriate online behavior, the same is expected of all staff members.”

Fortunately the Neenah community has showcased both instances as a learning opportunity but not all communities have caught on as issues like cyberbullying and social media abuse increase.

Overall abuse of social media surrounding school communities is not limited to the US. A similar poll scandal occurred in Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada where students created a poll ranking the school’s ‘ugliest girls’. The poll was released on the “social Q&A network” Ask.Fm.

As these scandalous occurrences increase in likelihood and frequency society needs to examine facts and cases surrounding them. According to Time, youth are giving more time to screens, between four and six and a half hours.

Social media is growing rampantly and has become a part of teens’ daily lives. New phone applications and social media sites appear constantly, giving teens more options on where to socialize online, especially since users can remain anonymous.

NJSD has increased awareness of social media abuse and encouraged appropriate online behavior. Since the Twitter polls and the Youtube incidents, no significant happenings have occurred. Undoubtedly, social media abuse will continue to be an issue. Hopefully NJSD has taken proper precautions to prevent and handle future situations. The internet and social media should be a place for sharing, collaborating and being entertained, not a place where cyber bullying and abuse run rampant.

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