This past week, we had the privilege of having Carol Todd come to ECMP355. I was very impressed with her poise and confidence as she talked with up about her daughter, Amanda Todd. Not only did she share about her daughter, she shared the importance of educating parents and students the dangers of online use. Something that Carol Todd shared that made me stop and think was when she said “There are no words as ‘Get offline now’”. Our students are always connected online and if they are not, they are thinking about being online. During our lessons, our students may be thinking about how many “likes” their post got on Facebook, or how many retweets their post got on Twitter. The danger now is that students may be using Facebook and Twitter, but they may also be using other platforms that could lead to the same situation that was of Amanda Todd.
Prior to class, I watched two CBC documentaries; “Sextortion of Amanda Todd” and “Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man in the Shadows”. Throughout these videos, there were many take away points. One of the biggest shocks was when Amanda’s dad was talking about how he believed having a webcam was not a danger, but a place where Amanda could perform. With the rise of online use and sextortion, educators must educate both the parents and the children of the risks of being online, especially with video. This is not to say that videos are an excellent tool, but children must know how to use the webcam appropriately. During Carol Todd’s presentation, she stated that many social media platforms, such as Snapchat, provide people with a false sense of security. Prior to this class, I personally did not realize that Snapchat stored all the photos that everyone has sent. I was intrigued by this and decided to do some research on the topic. I read an article about a digital forensic who actually found that photos are not deleted from Snapchat. He says that “It’s not that [a photo is] deleted — it just isn’t mapped anymore”. This has many implications for students who are using Snapchat, thinking that their photos are deleted after 10 seconds. This all relates back to the education that we must not provide our students. We cannot assume that parents of our students will provide this education as many of them did not grow up with Snapchat, or quite simply do not realize this about Snapchat, or other social media platforms.
During Carol Todd’s visit, a constant question in my mind was how does this relate to the younger grades? I do see this being more of an issue in middle years or high school. This does not mean that I do not have a responsibility as an elementary teacher to provide students with education. Carol Todd mentioned that we must be role-models with technology. We must show students how to use to appropriately. Discussions about using appropriate technology should be started in the early grades as many students are using it when they go home from school and at school. As a teacher, I also need to build trust with my students and make sure they know that I am there for support. Carol Todd mentioned that if a student and teacher do not have the trust relationship, they may not come to you or they may not tell the whole truth. This could have dire consequences, as we say in the Amanda Todd case. It is also important to educate our young that if they hear their older sibling discuss something online that is wrong, they come to their teacher. Then the teacher can either inform the parents that something more is going on, or depending upon the relationship with the older sibling, talk to the older sibling about it.
After watching documentaries about Amanda Todd and listening to Carol Todd speak, I believe it is needed that our schools discuss internet safety, including sextortion. While it may be uncomfortable for both the teacher and the students, this conversation could save someone’s life. In reading this article on sextortion, the situation after someone is sextorted is quite grim. Therefore, we must educate our students, and begin at a young age.
Having Carol Todd come to our class was an invaluable learning experience. I will always remember her message. I will also remember her calmness and her poise when discussing such a sensitive topic. Carol Todd is a role model for those teaching internet safety.