The more I learn about Amanda’s story the more I learn about the dark side of online world such as cyber bullying, screen capping, sextortion and the list goes on. Amanda’s story brought cyber bullying to mainstream attention in Canada and around the world in 2012 and since then digital citizenship is a part of the discussions in every community. The article “The sextortion of Amanda Todd” led me to research about the term cappers and it brought a whole new spectrum of knowledge to me. “Cappers” is a network of people who devote their time to capturing unethical images of young girls and boys to blackmail them in future. The digital sheepdog talks about the danger of cappers in detail and warns today’s parents and teachers to be aware of some of the dangers that our kids face. I also learned a lot from a show “Global News” on cappers, I think it is worth watching.
First of all, I am really thankful to Katia Hildebrandt for inviting Carol Todd to our class to talk about her daughter’s tragic story and to give us, future educators, a learning and a teaching lesson. I would like to highlight some of the important points from Carol’s presentation and from Amanda’s story in general (which I grasped from different online articles and documentaries) that resonated with me the most. I think these are great lessons for me to teach my students as an educator and my kids as a mom.
- Everyone likes diamonds, hearts, followers, praises and the likes on social media. Kids are kids, they are more vulnerable to be exploited because their logical thinking and decision making is not very strong. We should realize them that there is also a big potential of negativity along with all beautiful and positive things out there on social media and they should be aware of how to behave appropriately and accordingly in different situations.
- You can’t believe what you see or listen online. Do not believe and do not join conversations until you research and verify the source.
- A common concept is that a 9 or 10 year old does not need to know more about online world and the other side of it. But technology is a major part of our kids lives now that we, parents and teachers, can not filter any/all inappropriate stuff. I think education is better and powerful than filtration. We can not tell our kids to go “off-line”, we would rather teach them how to behave in the “online” world.
- Kids need proper education, training and knowledge of digital world. It is our responsibility to prepare them for their dignified online presence before they get addicted to bad things. Once they are hunted by cappers and other online insects, they will make mistakes, and ‘online’ mistakes can never be rolled back.
- The use of technology is a skill and this skill should be ‘licensed’ to prepare better digital citizens. Someone takes a test to become a citizen of a different country, why not when becoming a citizen of the digital world?
- One of the biggest aspect is to keep every line of ‘communication’ open. Kids should feel supported not isolated or frightened. They should have a sense of protection at all time. They should feel free to discuss everything with their teachers and/or parents (or any adult they are close to) as we are their guardians. Interaction is what they generally want and we should be prepared to fulfill this need.
- Amanda Todd did not deserve such a hateful attitude from the online society and her peers, it took her life which is a big loss for her family. It’s a big lesson for us all, how we should behave in online and offline communities, our actions and words affect each other’s lives.
- Amanda’s story is a warning for all teenagers that the world is not always as friendly as it seems and to be very careful in revealing any of your personal information. Technology is useful when you use it in a positive way but it can potentially ruin your life if not used appropriately.
- No one is perfect, everybody makes mistake because ‘to err is human’. Forgiveness is not a part of the social media but as a human being we should learn to forgive others’ mistakes and give them a chance. If Amanda was given a chance, she would not have taken this extreme step. We can not rewind the past but we can make our kids’ future better by learning from the past.
I conclude with this article which talks about what may parents do when their child is cyber bullied. Also, a great interview video to watch, to remember some insights of Amanda’s story.