IT is horrifying to learn that a young girl has taken her own life feeling alone and persecuted.
Whatever the facts surrounding the death of Amanda Todd - still to be determined by the coroner and a police investigation - all parents should have a plan in place to train their children in online interaction from an early age.
This isn't about how an operating system works, but about teaching appropriate online behaviour; about giving and receiving respect. That involves modelling appropriate behaviour and teaching that a careless word or an inappropriate photo in an email or text, unlike in face-to-face conversation, is potentially permanent and seen by everyone in the world. If it's thoughtless, stupid or mean, it will hurt the recipient - but it may also come back to haunt the sender.
Parents should also have considered how they might respond should they suspect their child is a target of online bullies.
The problem with the Age of Social Media is that it operates instantly. An interchange between two children can spread like brushfire to include others in the same social circle. StopCyberbullying.org suggests parents train their children to "stop, block and tell. Have them stop and not answer back. Block the person and message. And tell you, as their trusted adult, if anything else happens."
The last instruction is the most difficult for many teens; surveys confirm the majority of young teens assume their parents will make a bad situation worse.
The key for parents will lie in trust built over years, not a single command.