A panel assembled for the FLOW Safer Internet Day Teen Summit at the Karram Speid Auditorium at Merl Grove High School in St Andrew encouraged the more than 600 students, to make authentic posts of what they love, instead of “doing so for likes”. The panel was discussing the topic, ‘The Internet is Broken, How can we fix it?’ and was moderated by 18 -year -old Isheba Cornwall, Head Girl of the Excelsior High School.
Media personality and social media influencer, Terri- Karrelle-Reid and Rushane ‘Rush Cam’ Campbell an attorney-at-law, who is also a social media influencer, told the students that their posts on social media must be influenced by what drives their interest.
Using references of her own social media activities, Reid told the students, from 19 schools across the island, that posting things that they love and represents their authentic self, can be just as fun as making posts that try to prove something to others. “It is better, that only a few people like your authentic posts than one that gets a lot of likes but doesn’t reflect them in a positive light, as “quality will always beat quantity”.
Reid further noted that in cultivating a positive online culture, she doesn’t encounter negativity in her social space, as the individuals in her circle, clearly understand what she ‘stands for’. She encouraged the students to do likewise.
Campbell shared that he started posting sections of his “real” life online, which then spiralled him into becoming a social media influencer, to the extent that he stopped his work as an attorney-at-law and turning his online presence into a career.
Meanwhile, Danielle Mullings, United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) Youth Council tech expert, said that a poll conducted among 170,000 individuals in 30 countries worldwide, one in three children are bullied online, which is also consistent with the local trend. Mullings added that one in five students said they opted to stay home sometimes, instead of attending school, because of cyberbullying. She encouraged the students that they must confide in a trusted adult if they are being cyberbullied.
Associate clinical psychologist, Verol Billett, said that a list of consequences from cyberbullying includes individuals going into a slump and having suicidal behaviour. “More and more, we are seeing incidents of self- harming behaviour among Jamaican teens. Billett, who is an associate at Caribbean Tots to Teens Ltd. which focuses on helping youth adjust and cope with the different issues faced within the modern world.
Inspector Stacey-Ann Powell, of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, told the students that employers are monitoring potential workers’ social media pages, to be associated “with the right persons”. She advised the students of being careful of their social media presence as individuals are using these for nefarious activities.
Delroy McLean, senior director, C&W Business, told the students that they should make the passwords for their social media pages hard to be accessed by hackers, like using a line from their favourite song.
Flow has already trained some 500 students under the age of twelve to act as “online safety monitors” for their schools, families and communities. Spearheaded by the Flow Foundation, the students are taught the “SMART” rules for online safety and how to escalate problematic online matters to a responsible adult. The company is aiming to train another 500 students by the end of February 2020.
Safer Internet Day (SID) aims to inspire a global conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Young people, parents, caregivers, teachers, social workers, law enforcement, companies, policymakers, and wider, are all asked to join in helping to create a better internet.