'24/7 Respect Week' teaching students to stay safe, respectful in the digital age

'24/7 Respect Week' teaching students to stay safe, respectful in the digital age

BOSTON — If you have a teenager, you know they are usually glued to their phones. Online and in-person, Boston Public Schools are launching a program to teach students how to respect each other in the digital age.

Ninety percent of American teens have a smartphone. Seventy percent of them report using social media multiple times a day. Boston Public Schools says it has become all too common for young people to send or receive inappropriate messages or posts that could be harmful or possibly illegal.

Monday marked the beginning of 24/7 Respect Week.

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"I think it's really important that we make our social media, but also our school a welcoming environment just for all," said Boston Latin Academy senior Sophia Kennelly.

Sophia Kennelly and Ahria Ilyas helped write and star in a video on how to stay safe and respectful when interacting with peers online or through social media.

"You should always think before you do something," the video states.

Lesson plans and resources have been provided to teachers to use in their classrooms.

"Inspiring younger people to number one, be more responsible and number two, look for people that look like them when it comes to learning lessons or responsibilities," said Ilyas.

The data also shows that more and more teens are being exposed to racist, sexist or homophobic content on social media.

According to the nonprofit Common Sense Media, a poll of teens 13-17 showed those who "often" or "sometimes" encounter racist social media content has increased from 43 percent in 2012 to 52 percent last year.

"Holding people accountable on social media, so like if someone is saying something that is racist or that is offensive to a group of people like, vocalizing that's not OK," said Ilyas.