The Internet; friend or foe?

This week, our ECMP355 class had the privilege of listening to Carol Todd as she visited our class. She shared about her journey in regards to her daughter, Amanda Todd, and more recently the trial of Aydin C. in Amsterdam. If you are looking to familiarize yourself with the story, here is Amanda’s video and a documentary that goes in more depth.

Carol Todd is amazing. Straight up. The way she responded to our questions and her outlook on the whole situation is so admirable. She was very open and willing to share with us, which I greatly appreciated. She has taken this tragic situation with her daughter and spun it into an opportunity to speak out for mental health, cyber abuse, sextortion victims and internet safety. She connects with people, listens to their story and has a heart to help these people. I think that is absolutely incredible.

US-CANADA-BULLYING-TODD

A screen capture from the video of Amanda’s story

Dédé13 Flickr via Compfight cc

After class, my brain was just buzzing with a million thoughts. Initially, I was terrified for my students and future children. After hearing that apps can be inputed with inappropriate content, predators can be lurking anywhere on the internet and that these people can get in contact with any child; I was feeling pretty nervous. I do not want children to have a negative experience on the internet, after all, the digital world is a pretty neat place. I figured if I just wrapped them in bubble wrap and refused internet access, I should be good, right? No, obviously not. Like Carol shared with us, the best thing we can do for students and children is to educate them on how to use their devices safely and how to have safe interactions online. By keeping an line of communication open between students and teachers or parents is something that I believe is necessary especially if you want a child to be comfortable sharing something that is potentially dangerous for them. The internet is an amazing place to connect with people, share resources and learn many things. I don’t believe that young people should be sheltered from that, especially as it is a place for children to grow and explore. However, it can also be a very dangerous place for someone to fall victim to sextortion or cyberbullying if they are unaware. Monitoring student’s and children’s online interaction as well as education children to ensure they are ready to take on the digital world are essential to ensuring the safety of children online.

Sextortion was a new concept for me. I knew that being harassed on the internet was a real thing and that people are blackmailed into doing things they aren’t comfortable with, however sextortion was new. Sextortion is sexual exploitation to gain sexual favours from a victim. In the Fifth Estate documentary,  they outline Amanda’s struggle with this. They explain cappers, the creeps who are exploiting these young girls, and how Amanda was resisting and fighting against what her pursuer wanted. Since Tyler Boo, one of Aydin C. many online identities, already had a picture of Amanda, he was using it against her to gain more pictures and “shows” from the young girl. He was threatening her by saying he would continue to share the picture if she didn’t gibe him more. I think that is absolutely sick, how these cappers corner these poor girls and force the girls to give them what they want. I can’t imagine how trapped and helpless these young people must feel when they are in positions like this.Yet again, another remind of how important it is to be teaching young children what is safe online interactions.

Again, thank you Carol for coming and speaking to us about the trial and the journey that you are on. It was incredible hearing a story like this from a parent’s perspective, and I’m in awe of how you have taken this tragedy and spun it into something to raise awareness for bullying and cyber abuse. Thank you.

In what ways can we already be preparing to face this in our classrooms or at home? How can we take the necessary steps combat cyber abuse? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Emily Grace.

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6 thoughts on “The Internet; friend or foe?

  1. anilakanwal says:

    You have summerized it very well. I salute Carol Todd for her efforts to save others from cyber bullying and sextortions. To me having friendly relation with your kids could be a one of the possible solutions to keep them safe from cyber bullying.

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  2. brittanyjeffersonblog says:

    Hi Emily,
    Thanks for a great post! As an educator, it is intimidating to think about ways that we can “combat” cyber bullying. I am not sure of the answer. I think one of the most important things that we can teach young people is kindness. I know that this might seem pretty simple, but if we help young people feel empathy for others, this may help reduce cyber bullying. The next big questions is, “how do we foster empathy amongst our students?” In order to do this, I think it is important to share heartbreaking stories like Amanda’s. If young people can see the devastating impact that bullying has on their peers, they may think twice about posting something hurtful online. Although I wished this never happened to Amanda, I do hope that her story will touch the lives of young students.

    -Mrs. J

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  3. Sarah Munro says:

    Emily- I really appreciated your post about Carol Todd! I agree she was a a strong, inspiring woman. I think Carol’s story truly showed how important it is that we address the use of technology with our students. I think one way that we can prepare to face this in the classroom is to show students how quickly things on the internet can spread, and the lasting impact a post can have. I have seen many posts on Twitter from teachers who are asking individuals to share their post to show students how quickly a post can go viral. I think this is a wonderful way to demonstrate to students how their posts can spread, and why they should always think twice before posting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Emily.
    – S

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  5. gardenlovepoet says:

    It’s sad what happened to Amanda and even though it’s been like 3+ years it still feels like yesterday and not to long ago there was another girl who i think went by the username itz dolly and her story is very similar

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