Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rural teens and technology

In response to Jeff Edwards' post...

In the North Carolina News & Observer today, an AP article entitled "Kids Exploit Suicide to Avoid Exams" described cell phone text messaging in a rural Arkansas town. The town, Augusta, Arkansas, has a population of approximately 2,400.

The article explained that after a former student's suicide, students text messaged, by cell phone, other suicide plans and plans to bring weapons to school. In the 200-student school, officials believed the threats were attempts to avoid semester finals. What prompted me to post this article was the quote from police that "the proliferation of cell phones gave electronic-age wings to small-town gossip." The police captain said that rumors spread in the town "like you just cannot believe because everyone knows everybody. . . ninety percent of people is kinfolks with somebody else..."

The police responded to the threats by scanning students with a hand-held metal detector, but they found only cell phones.

I wonder what the explanations are for the increase in rural teen texting compared to urban teen texting (as referenced in the Texas Texting Blog Post). The News and Observer article seems to suggest that the increase in technology increases the spread of rural teen gossip. What is not addressed in the article, though, is the teen suicide in a school population of 200 and its effect on such a small student population, apart from technology and gossip.

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