Chelsey Sharpe

Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace. -Confucius



Cyberbullying, cyberstalking and sextortion… We have to teach the darkside of the internet to our students

Cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and sextortion are all examples of the dark side of the internet.  We as educators and parents know that these dangers are out there and we have to educate our kids on these very series crimes. Unfortunately all to often kids between the ages of 9-18 are targeted by people that are experts of internet crime.

I had a great opportunity to listen to Carol Todd speak about her daughter, Amanda Todd, experience with being sextorted and bullied as a result. For those of you that do not know that Amanda Todd story, please check out the documentary Stalking Amanda Todd: The Man in the Shadows produced by the CBC. Listening to Carol speak was an eye opener for me as an educator. She asked a question that has really got me thinking; how early should we start teaching our kids about digital safety? Although she did teach Amanda about internet safety, Amanda was still targeted.

I have a young son that knows how to use my devices, but we have not yet talked about internet safety. My husband and I have decided that he is to young to learn about internet crime because it is different. I also posed this question to my online community and the responses varied. For instance, one person wrote: when we start teaching our kids about stranger danger. I agree with this but I feel that teaching a child that we do not talk to strangers is different online than it is on the street. On the street where they can visually see the person, online the predator is anonymous.

The next thing that Carol discussed was that children get addicted to the attention that they receive on the internet. This is especially true when there are rewards given by the audience. One of my classmates wrote “Everyone likes diamonds, hearts, followers, praises and the likes on social media.“. But what kids lack is the logical knowledge and decision making skills to know right from wrong on the internet. It is our jobs as educators to teach them the dark side of the internet including cyber crime. To help educators with teaching logical skills and decision making has powerful and engaging lesson plans for educators to follow.

Unfortunately,  resources like we have today were not as readily available when cyber crime effected the Todd family. I just want to thank Carol Todd for talking about her daughter’s tragedy and educating teachers about these crimes. To my readers I pose the same question that Carol posed to us: at what age should educators start having the internet safety talk with our students?

Photo credit: geralt
Photo credit: geralt




The New Culture of Participation

Never before has there been a way to participate as an outsider like there is now. The internet has opened the gates to allow us the users to learn new things without having to the comfort of our home. Platforms like Youtube allow users to display their talent, place their views or teach us something new. According to Michael Wesch, our culture is taking on a new form of identity.

But how does this change the way we teach in school? Since our students love the internet and what Youtube more than they watch T.V. I have come up with some of my own ideas that may make this an advantage to us. I thought of making my one Youtube Channel that my students can watch in order to catch a lesson that they might or missed, or they can rewatch a section that didn’t make sense, and lastly parents can see what is being taught in the classroom and can help their child out with homework. Another way this is can be beneficial to a classroom is through engagement. Having students make a presentation on Youtube or having them collaborate their own visions of a story on the internet will not only have the invested in the learning and they will gain valuable skills help them in their future careers.

But although this sounds great, there is also drawbacks this participatory culture and the culture of YouTube. Kirsty Simon (2015) that information can be “faked” on the internet. She uses Parkinson’s disease as can example of where the internet shows this disease as not being as damaging as it truly can be. Participatory Culture also can lead to mob like communities on the internet, people seem to be more accepting of a video depicting violence and will share said video until it goes viral but if an attack on someone happens in reality, people cannot condone the action.

If we as educators want to embrace web 2.0 (participatory culture) we need to first teach our students about digital citizenship and how to have a positive presence on the internet. Then we have to teach the parents that being on the internet is not as dangerous as they grow up to believe.

I leave you with a clip of Justin Bieber, who by the way became famous because of Youtube.


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