If you are not familiar with the Michelle Carter case, she was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2014 death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. Conrad committed suicide and the then 17-year-old Michelle was convicted due to her use of text messages encouraging her friend to commit suicide.
This case shows the power of words. Words can help people or break them down so it’s important that our kids understand this. We need to teach kids about this power and also the consequences words can have. Here’s what you need to know:
- Nothing online is private.Your students may think you have set up some privacy controls but not only is everything trackable it’s also shareable. If the apps don’t allow sharing many people screenshot posts and share the images.
- Your words matter.Talk to your students about the importance of thinking about what they say prior to posting and texting. Encourage them to not be reactive to incendiary things they may read or see online.
- Practice kindness and empathy in your day to day life. Set the example for you students by practicing what you preach. Don’t just talk to your students but demonstrate kindness so they can see it in action.
- Many students don’t seem like they could be at fault.Digital interactions provide a level of anonymity that cause people to say and do things they would not do in person. Be alert to what your students are saying in class and the halls.
- Online actions can and do have real world impact. As demonstrated by this case things are changing and there could be dire consequences for your students based on things they say, post or text.
Image: Faith Ninivaggi / Pool