Winter Break: Students Behaving Badly Online

Gaggle’s Safety Management Team reviews millions of items each school year and notifies districts of thousands of serious issues that students are struggling to handle.

As a result, we often see trends long before they become apparent at the school or district level. Some are more obvious than others like discussions about drinking alcohol at parties or sexual activities after Homecoming, Valentine’s Day or prom. But we’re also able to pick-up on less obvious, but very serious, trends.

With the holiday season around the corner and winter break upon us, here are two of the more common situations we consistently observe.

The first weekday of winter break typically has a high number of incidents related to sexual content. Students as young as sixth graders use school-provided tools to sext friends or send inappropriate images. While these are always serious situations, they can be even harder to handle at schools or districts where it’s difficult to access student information to contact parents and guardians when school is not in session.

Consider a refresher for students about digital citizenship and online behavior before sending them off for the holidays. In addition to this very particular time of year, we also see a spike in this activity when districts experience snow days.

There’s often also a spike in the number of students we observe for depressive, self-harm, and suicidal issues on the second day students return after the holiday break. Reminding students of available resources on the first day back from vacation can serve to help students before their issues reach a crisis level.