Teen punished for smartphone impulse

Teen punished for smartphone impulse

Teen punished for smartphone impulse

An advocate for kids and parents against dangerous screen habits doesn’t think a California high school student should've been expelled for livestreaming a fight.

The 17-year-old student, a senior called Zoey, says her generation goes live online to do "everything," and she maintains that her decision to film the altercation was not intended to cause harm; she says that is simply what her generation does.

Though one of the students filmed fighting reportedly "gets to walk," Zoey was expelled from Ayala High School in Chino Hills for violating three education codes: cyberbullying, intimidation, and harassment/attempting to cause physical injury to another person – allegations she denies.

Hempe, Melanie (ScreenStrong) Hempe

"This is not shocking," Melanie Hempe, founder of ScreenStrong, says about the teen's actions. "This is not uncommon. This is just what teenagers do, and it's wrong for sure."

She points out that it is difficult for teenagers in general to make responsible decisions with technology.

"We know that the frontal cortex, the judgement center is not fully connected yet, and so when we put these devices in their hands and then expect them to act like an adult, it's a recipe for disaster," Hempe explains.

Still, she acknowledges that the recording device could have been a useful tool in Zoey's situation.

"Maybe this would be evidence," Hempe suggests. "I'm assuming that the problem that they had with it was that she shared it with the wrong people."

Zoey will finish her education at an alternative school. Her family can appeal the expulsion with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools so she can still receive her diploma from Ayala High School.