During my summer vacation last year, I joined the Ayudh youth camp in a small village in Brombachtal, near Frankfurt, Germany. It was a summer camp for young people with various workshops in areas ranging from sports, music, arts and science. I was very excited to be part of the anti-cyber bullying workshop. It is very important to be aware of various cyber threats to stay safe online and maintain privacy. This is even more important for children, who are always connected to the internet with lot of gadgets all the time without being aware of potential dangers.
As a part of the camp, we went to the Theodor Litt Schule, a middle school in the nearby town of Michelstadt. I joined the four day workshop for the school kids conducted by youngsters like me (20-30 age group). I must say that it was a great experience to be part of the Ayudh group. Lucia Rijker, former world champion in boxing was also part of the workshop. Lucia is called by the press as “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World”. It was indeed an awesome experience to spend time with her. She conducted sessions on “respect” stressing on the need for self respect as well as respect for others. Some of the discussions and informal sessions were so invaluable. Students opened up and shared private incidences from their lives. I got to know that the incidents happening on the cyber space leave deep imprints on the minds of children. Online identity is given more importance than necessary, having a huge impact on the self confidence of a child. There were multiple incidents where children use cyber space as a platform for bullying a friend/classmate by abusing with public posts/pictures/videos. There are even instances where the victim ended up suiciding unable to bear the shame, due to their videos/post becoming viral. Before we share or click like on a funny video of someone (could be even a stranger), we must think twice what we actually gain out of it. If the content makes fun of someone, we can decide to participate in harassing somone or not with a click. It is very important to realise this sense of responsibility for every action we do online. The workshop in total served as an enriching experience awakening respect for myself, fellow friends and others. We even made a small act (drama) to spread awareness against cyber bullying.
After the camp, I went to India, my home country. I got to know about an incident near my village. A 9th grade child committed suicide due to a fake relationship that he made online. I felt very sad about the incident. This tragic incident shows that there is an important need to make children aware about their activities online. I was very happy when I got a chance to go to Amrita Vidyalayam school, Kollam, Kerala and talk about the relevance of cyber security and privacy to about 150 school kids. In both the schools, in Frankfurt and Kollam, at different sides of the world, I noticed that it is a growing concern among teachers and parents about their kid’s safety online. It is alarming to know about more and more bad incidents on cyber bullying/cheating happening around the world. I will make use of every opportunity that I get to spread awareness regarding this issue. It is a collective responsbility of everyone to be aware of the pitfalls in cyber space. Being a student in computer security, I find the relavance of safety and security online as a strong motivation to continue in my field. Computer securty is a lot of fun as far as the technical studies are concerened. But it gives immense satisfaction to study computer security for me mainly because, it also serves a strong social cause for serving the society today.