It was very difficult to watch The Sextortion of Amanda Todd. I knew that a young girl had committed suicide because of repeated bullying, however I did not know that these bullies were exploiting her and blackmailing her online. It was a very disturbing realization that I had that there is a whole other dark world online that we do not even know about. Throughout the depths of the Internet lies chat sites filled with men and women, which all seems very harmless however, there is a dark world that many do not know about. Within these chats sites there are men, young and old, with real profiles and fake profiles that cyberstalk, blackmail, and exploit (mostly) young women. It starts off with harmless small talk, then flirtatious behaviour, which leads to threats and pleas to reveal hidden body parts over the webcam. This whole concept seemed so abstract to me. How can so many young girls get caught up in the lies and devious behaviour of these predators online? The documentary states that many young women do not get attention at school or in their community which results in low self worth and self esteem. Therefore, they go online searching for compliments and someone to boost their self worth. So, when someone starts talking to you and begins dishing out complements, these young women become flattered. After all, they are FINALLY getting the attention that they have hoped for. However, their online friend starts asking you to do things that you may not be comfortable with, such as revealing your private parts. When you refuse to do so, they start posing threats. Soon, you are not able to rid yourself of this cyber stalker and become scared of what they threaten that they might do.
This story reiterates the fact that once you post something online, it is there forever. I can safely say that at that time, Amanda did not think that her pictures would end up being posted on pornography sites and all over Facebook. She became brutally bullied by people in her community and the blackmailers online. As a result, her parents will never have their girl back.
Just a side note, I do not want people to think that I am posing the idea that men are the only ones who cyberstalk, I’m sure that women do the same. However, most of the stories that we hear about involve men (young and old) cyberstalking and blackmailing young women online.
It is scary to think that this has and will continue to happen to so many young women. So as an educator, what can I do?
The technological world has grown tremendously over the years, and we have to learn how to adapt and utilize this growth. There are many, many Benefits of having technology in the classroom. However, there are also Disadvantages and are many internet sites that are dangerous. As an educator, I believe that it is essential to teach your students about Internet safety. It is unrealistic to say that I will be able to stop my students from going on dangerous sites, so all I can do is educate them on the benefits and dangers of the Internet.
While I believe that teachers should promote Internet safety, I ultimately believe that it is up to the parents and guardians of my students to become aware of what their children are doing on the Internet. Here are some helpful tips for parents.
Although this documentary gave me insight on Amanda Todd’s story, I still have so many questions. 1. Did the police do enough? 2. How do these sites that can be so dangerous remain open? 3. How do these cyberstalkers continue to get away with so much? 4. Why do young women continue to reveal themselves in this way online? I attempt to answer and give my opinions to these questions below:
1. I do not think that the police did enough for Amanda and her family in the beginning. They told her to delete all of her profiles on the Internet, essentially asking her to erase herself from the online world. While this is very true, it was far too late and very impossible to delete herself from the Internet. As I mentioned above, once you post something on the Internet, it is there forever. I believe that the police should have immediately taken action. They should have gotten Amanda’s laptop and cellphone and looked through her internet history and went on her online chats and profiles. The police ended up doing all this, but when it was too late.
2. I like to think that I am pretty knowledgable about the Internet, however I am aware that I do not know everything. What I don’t understand is how these chat sites remain open while they have been the host to so many online predators, cyberstalkers, and blackmailers. Which brings up another question, is it even possible to shut down Internet sites? If so, how hard is it to do so?
3. There are many cyberstalkers and blackmailers who continue to get away with so much indecent acts. Everyday there are thousands, probably even millions of women who get caught up in the sweet talk of online predators. How do they continue to get away with so much? The only answers that I can come up with are that young women are too afraid to come forward about what is going on. Another reason, which is sad but true, is that these young women crave this attention and know that they will not get it anywhere else so they continue to show themselves online. The last reason that I came up with is that it is simply too hard to track down all of these blackmailers. However, if it gets to that point, it then starts with these young women coming forward and notifying their parents and police when they are becoming cyberstalked and bullied. But let’s not let it get to this point.
4. I kind of touched on this question earlier. Young women continue to go online and reveal themselves because they crave attention. Let’s be honest, everyone craves attention. The problem is that some people do not get it at home, school, or in their community so they look for it online. Soon, they are flooded with compliments and their self esteem is boosted. Young women get so caught up in the lies and deceit and that is when it becomes dangerous.
I recommended that everyone should watch this short documentary. It has definitely changed my perspective on Internet safety and has showed me the importance of teaching and demonstrating Internet safety in my classroom.