Digital Citizenship: Etiquette Cyberbullying: Be Upstanding – Crossing the Line Grades 6-8 Essential Question:
How do you judge the intentions and impact of people’s words and actions online?
When does inappropriate online behavior cross the line to cyberbullying, and what can you do about it?
Students learn about the difference between being a passive bystander versus a brave upstander in cyber bullying situations. Students reflect on what it means to be brave and to stand up for others. Students learn to distinguish good-natured teasing from cyberbullying. Students learn about serious forms of cyberbullying.
Students will be able to ...
Understand that the Internet provides a means of communicating with real people.
Describe how email messages are sent and received.
Demonstrate an appreciation of how real people send messages to one another on the Internet through a role-playing activity.
Analyze online bullying behaviors that “cross the line.”
Learn about the various ways that students can be cyberbullied, including flaming, deceiving, and harassing.
Adopt the point of view of teens who have been cyberbullied, and offer solutions.
Estimated time:55 minutes
Common Core Standards Alignment
DEFINE the Key Vocabulary terms bystander, upstander, and empathize.
DISCUSS the following qualities associated with upstanders:
is not directly involved in the cyberbullying incident, but steps in to help anyway.
empathizes with the targets of cyberbullying, letting them know that they care and are listening.
does not spread rumors or go along with cyberbullies because of peer pressure, and may even tell the cyberbully to stop.
encourages the target to tell a trusted adult about the situation.
ASK: What are some of the ways that you and your friends tease each other online for fun? Sample responses:
Send jokes back and forth
Alter photos of one another, in a goofy (not mean) way
ASK: When does teasing “cross the line” and become harmful? What are some signs, and what does it feel like to be in that situation? Sample responses:
The teasing begins to feel scary, not funny anymore.
You feel helpless.
You feel like your reputation might suffer.
You are worried about your safety.
ASK students if they have ever heard of the the Key Vocabulary terms harassing, deceiving, flaming, and hate speech. Have students describe the terms, and then provide their definitions.
POINT OUT to students that these are examples of situations that definitely “cross the line” and are considered cyberbullying. (However, they are not the only examples.)
DISCUSS with students why someone might not want to talk to other people about a cyberbullying situation. What would the roadblocks be? Why? Emphasize to students that, no matter what label they put on a situation, if it makes them feel uncomfortable, upset, or hurt, they should talk to someone about it.
Create at Cyberbullying Map (10 minutes)
DISTRIBUTE the Why Care? Student Handout and ask students to read the story about Kevin and José.
GUIDE students to use drawing paper and markers to create a map showing all the players in this event (bully/bullies, target, bystanders). Students may choose to show a labeled web, use concentric circles, or draw something more representational. Ask students to share their maps with the class.
Stacey's Story (15 minutes)
EXPLAIN that you are going to watch a video of a teen reflecting on a cyberbullying experience.
SHOW students the video “Stacey’s Story – When Rumors Escalate.”
DIVIDE students into groups of four or five.
DISTRIBUTE copies of the Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line Student Discussion Guide to each student, and have students discuss the Video Discussion Questions in their small groups.
ENGAGE students in a full-class discussion about their responses to the Video Discussion Questions. Refer to the Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line Student Discussion Guide – Teacher Version for guidance.
ASK: Who is doing the cyberbullying in this story? Encourage students to decide for themselves and support their reasoning. Ask them to consider if it is only José. What about the boys at school who helped him upload the video to the website? What about the people who posted nasty comments? What about the people who viewed the video?
ASK: Who are the bystanders? The students at school who witnessed the abuse and kids online who viewed the video.
ASK: What would you do if you were a bystander? Guide students to think about empathizing with Kevin, telling the other boys to take down the video, writing public comments on the video saying that Kevin did not want the video up, or encouraging Kevin to tell a trusted adult.
ASK: What would you say to José if you wanted him to stop? I might tell him that it is unfair to put up the video without Kevin’s permission, and let him know how hurtful it is to Kevin. This may not work, but at least it is an attempt.
ASK: What would you say to Kevin or do for him to show your support for him? Guide students to talk about how it is important to listen to Kevin and empathize with him, and then discuss with him what actions to take.
ASK: What could you say to the other kids at school who viewed the video and left cruel comments? I could let them know that they are followers. I could tell them how Kevin feels.
ASK: How could you have involved a trusted adult? Guide students to consider what the consequences of telling an adult for Kevin could be. The other students might make fun of him, so he has to confide in someone who is trustworthy and has the skill and authority to help him.
POINT OUT that people who posted cruel comments were just as guilty of being bullies as the boys who originally uploaded the video. Discuss with students how trusted adults could help, including asking a guidance counselor to talk to Kevin, a technology teacher to investigate whether it would be possible to remove the video from the site, and a school principal to enforce school bullying rules.
HAVE each group read and discuss the case study that you selected from the student handout (Case Study 1, “Attacked from All Sides” or Case Study 2, “Election Sabotage”).
ENGAGE students in a full-class discussion about their responses to the case study questions. Refer to the Cyberbullying: Crossing the Line Student Discussion Guide – Teacher Version for guidance.
POINT OUT that it can be hard to judge someone’s intentions online. Let students know that no matter how a message is sent, words used with the intention of hurting someone are taken very seriously by schools, parents, and even the police. Let students know that they should tell trusted adults if they observe or are involved in cyberbullying, and that they must report it to the school, their parents, or other trusted adults when someone has threatened to hurt someone else.
Wrap Up (5 minutes)
You can use these questions to assess your students’ understanding of the lesson objectives. You may want to ask students to reflect in writing on one of the questions, using a journal or an online blog/wiki.
ASK: What kinds of online behaviors could be considered cyberbullying? Posting someone else’s video without permission, leaving cruel comments on a website.
ASK: What does it mean to be a bystander to cyberbullying? A bystander sees cyberbullying happening, but does nothing to help. Some bystanders also might get involved in the bullying, and some will spread the disaster further by recruiting even more bystanders.
ASK: What are some things a bystander can do to become an upstander? Show understanding and support for the target, don’t react to the bully, tell the bully to stop, or ask a trusted adult for help. Remind students that a trusted adult is someone who you believe will listen and has the skills, desire, and authority to help you.
ASK: What does it feel like when a teasing situation “crosses the line” from harmless to harmful? When teasing no longer feels funny and starts to feel upsetting or scary, then students should start taking it seriously. People can feel helpless, ganged up on, worried about their reputation, worried about their safety, etc.
ASK: What are some different forms of cyberbullying? Sample responses:
Harassment, which feels virtually impossible to escape
Deception, because it is dishonest to impersonate someone else, and it can damage their reputation
Hate speech, which is discriminatory, and very damaging to someone’s reputation
ASK: What advice would you give to someone who feels cyberbullied? Talk to friends about what you are going through. Tell an adult you trust, especially if you feel you are being flamed, deceived, harassed, are the target of hate speech.
If time permits…
Point out to students that most kids say they would report cyberbullying if they did not have to identify themselves. Have students brainstorm ways for students to anonymously report cyberbullying at school. Have them make an action plan for dealing with the problem and a proposal for convincing administrators, teachers, students, and parents to get involved.
Students brainstorm about an anonymous reporting system. Tell them that most kids say they would report cyberbullying if they did not have to identify themselves. Ask students to brainstorm ways for students to anonymously report cyberbullying at school. Have them make an action plan for dealing with the problem and a proposal for convincing administrators, teachers, students, and parents to get involved.