Cyberbullying is a concern for parents, students, and teachers alike. Once kids go online, the chances that they’ll encounter mean behavior are quite high. In Common Sense’s 2018 study Social Media, Social Life, more than 1 in 10 teen social media users (13 percent) reported having “ever” been cyberbullied, and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) “often” or “sometimes” reported coming across racist, sexist, homophobic, or religious-based hate content in social media.

Lessons on this topic teach students about the effects of digital drama, cyberbullying, and hate speech on both themselves and their larger communities. Students explore how individual actions—negative and positive, intentional and unintentional—can affect their peers and others. They’re encouraged to take the active role of upstander and build positive, supportive online communities, and they will learn how to cultivate empathy, compassion, and courage to combat negative interactions online.

Even though young kids aren’t online yet, early lessons on cyberbullying can easily connect to the social and emotional skill-building that happens during early elementary school. By focusing on empathy and compassion, conversations about cyberbullying can give young kids a foundation for future positive online experiences. For older kids, teachers can help students reflect on their own behavior and build strategies for how to respond when they witness cyberbullying.

Introduce cyberbulling in your classroom with one of these four essential lessons:

4 #cyberbullying lesson plans to help students build positive, supportive online communities

Screen Out the Mean (Grades K–2)
What can you do when someone is mean to you online?

Students learn that kids sometimes act like bullies when they’re online. They explore what cyberbullying means and what they can do when they encounter it. Students first read a scenario about mean online behavior. They then discuss what cyberbullying is, how it can make people feel, and how to respond. Then they use their knowledge to create a simple tip sheet on cyberbullying. Students recognize that it’s essential to tell a trusted adult if something online makes them feel angry, sad, or scared.

About the Author:

Bronwyn Harris is an author, educator, and editor living in the East Bay. She is originally from Petaluma, California, and began her teaching career in 2000 in the most violent neighborhood in Oakland, California, and has since written a book about her experiences: Literally Unbelievable: Stories from an East Oakland Classroom. Harris has written for Teaching Tolerance and AlterNet, among others.


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