Check out a visual of the poll here.

The discovery of some 100 students in a “sexting” ring at a Cañon City High School in Colorado has brought concerns about teen social media use to the forefront of many discussions among parents and school administrators. The group of students, led by members of the high school football team, included children as young as 8th grade from the local middle school.

Naked photos distributed between members of the group were hidden by phone software that secretly stored the pictures. These so-called photo vaults, or “ghost apps” appear externally as normal applications but can be used to safeguard sensitive information.

Recently at Lincoln High School in San Jose, a 17-year old male high school student was arrested for soliciting and posting naked photos of underage girls to major social media outlets. Officials discovered at least ten Instagram accounts led by this student and others, which have been used to post inappropriate pictures of middle school and high school girls. The police has worked with the San Jose Unified School District as well as the East Side Union High School District to search for more details pertaining to this felony.

In a poll conducted by members of the M-A Chronicle staff, we inquired about how students use social media, especially in regard to nude pictures. With almost an even split of students from all different grade levels, with the most responses from juniors and the least from sophomores, the poll found that most high schoolers spend the greatest amount of their screen time on social media or texting. This group uses social media to stay updated on other people’s lives and as the main source for accessing the news.

One half of participating M-A students recounted an instance in which they received a nude photo, with about 17% categorizing their reception of nudes as “often.” Of those who claimed to have received a naked picture, the majority responded by ignoring it. The next largest group of responders acted differently; about 15% of students kept a nude picture to look at. The poll also discovered that a very small group of participants acted on either extreme when receiving a nude, with five or fewer students each either reporting or distributing the pictures.

Among students who partake in the sending and receiving of nude photos, Snapchat was the most widely used means of distribution. This point is notable because the inclination to use Snapchat for explicit pictures may largely be due to the false perception of Snapchat’s “deletion of photos.”

Finally, a majority of students were in favor of allowing students to sext under the age of eighteen. Sexting may not entail nude photos but can often lead to these pictures. The poll also displayed that students find social media to encourage the distribution of nudes.

In light of the recent scandals locally and in other states, coupled with the lack of privacy all social media platforms provide, it’s important to take caution when posting anything online.

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