A new social media app is causing concern at area high schools. The app, called Streetchat, is geared toward high school and college students and allows them to post photos anonymously and make anonymous comments about those photos.
Streetchat bills itself as a “live photo board for schools and colleges.” But school administrators are concerned that the app is being misused to bully and demean fellow students.
According to one parent of a Riverside-Brookfield High School student, someone posted a photo of a freshman girl on Streetchat and then made a crude comment about her.
Officials at RB responded quickly. Assistant principal John Passarella spoke to students during lunchtime a few weeks ago about the misuse of Streetchat.
“He said that he was disappointed that the kids at school would take something that was originally meant just to be an image sharing thing and just turn it into a way to talk smack about one another and spread unsavory information,” said RBHS senior Stuart Marciniak.
While Passarella was speaking to students in the cafeteria, according to Marciniak, someone snapped a photo of him. In seconds that photo was anonymously posted on Streetchat along with a caption.
Streetchat use exploded at RBHS in just one day, Marciniak said. RBHS Principal Kristin Smetana said that the school didn’t have a specific policy concerning Streetchat, but continues to work with students teaching them about the wise use of social media.
Smetana said that new apps are developed all the time, so it wouldn’t make sense to ban a specific app. Rather students are reminded that they can’t use their smart phones in class and to use technology wisely.
Lyons Township High School Principal Brian Waterman mentioned Streetchat in an newsletter emailed out to parents last week. He urged parents to talk to their children about the appropriate way to use social media.
“Teen years are full of self-expression and upheaval,” Waterman wrote. “Make sure your teens know your rules about suggestive material or other content that will reflect poorly on them. This means no embarrassing or malicious posts, no hate speech, and no compromising pictures they wouldn’t want the world to see.”
The dean’s office at Fenwick High School also recently sent an email about Streetchat to parents.
“Recently we have become aware of students using the app Streetchat in a way that is not reflective of how we teach our students to use technological devices or online material,” the Fenwick email said. “Though most students use social media appropriately, there are some students that are not. Therefore, we are asking your assistance in proactively addressing these situations.”
The email goes on to suggest that parents talk to their children and set rules about the use of social media and get cyber savvy enough to know if your rules are being followed. The email also suggests that parents monitor their children’s online activity. The email goes on to ask that if students find content on Streetchat that is offensive and demeaning the students or parents contact Streetchat to flag that content for removal.
“Our rules clearly state that we have zero tolerance for nudity, bullying, hateful speech and other forms of objectionable content,” the email states.