Yesterday I had the privilege and honour to listen to and video conference with Carol Todd in my ECMP355 class. Carol Todd is the mother of Amanda Todd, a young girl who took her life too soon due to the negative affects of social media and cyber bullying. Carol Todd is an inspiring, positive and passionate woman who speaks out for change and supports others. Carol has chosen to vocalize the issues of social media and the harm of negative online identities to parents, children and teachers in order for all of us gain a better understanding of the online world. We often learn best from real life, true stories, and Carols is one to remember.

Carol shared a variety of analogies and thoughts that speak the truth about life, digital citizenship, and education.

  • She talked about taking a picture of yourself. Would you think twice about posting it on a bulletin board… what about online? You would most likely think twice about putting it in public on a bulletin board, but we do not think twice about posting it on social media. Carol mentioned that the Internet brings us together, no matter how far apart we are. This can be a scary and dangerous thought, but it doesn’t have to be. We need to learn and teach our students to be cognizant of the things that are posted online and how to be safe online.
  • She hit the point of teaching digital citizenship right on. Carol mentioned that on a child’s 16th birthday, we wouldn’t just give them keys to a car and say go drive. We teach them everything they need to know. What’s so different about giving a child a cell phone or a laptop? We need to teach children how to use technology appropriately and safely. We need to be their to listen to our students and hear what their experiencing, and we need to teach students that it is okay to be open to communicating and sharing how they are feeling or what is going on in their lives with us. Building relationships is key.
  • Carol brought up the analogy that each person has four walls that we hibernate within- a wall of isolation, lack of voice, lack of attachment and lack of strength. It is our goal to get out of the four walls. As educators, it is our goal to help students break out of these walls as well. We need to be comfortable and gain confidence in who we are. People’s behaviours can be changed. As educators, we have the power to alter the behaviours of others and make an impact for the better. In order to do this, we need to shift our ways of teaching.
  • We are all snowflakes in this world… unique, fragile, beautiful. However, alone, we melt and dissolve quickly. Alone, we are not as resilient. When us snowflakes unite together, we become a snowball. A snowball is strong, powerful and resilient. Students need to be taught that it is important to build one another up, not break one another down. Amanda’s mom built the legacy of her around snowflakes. You can read why here.

Carol will be speaking at a TED Talk in a few weeks about the effects of online bullying. I recommend for everyone to watch it to gain a greater understanding of what goes on in the online world.

Carol continues Amanda’s legacy through supporting others and teaching them about the dangers of online identity. As I stated before, Carol mentioned we need shift our ways of teaching. How as educators and/or parents do we make sure our students understand the digital world and feel comfortable talking to us about their experiences online?