Cyber Bullying and Cyber Safety Lessons {Part I}

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This week, I will be sharing my cyber bullying and cyber safety lessons that I use with my middle school students. Today’s post will be my 5th grade lesson. Enjoy!

 


 

The cyber safety portion of my 5th grade lesson begins with a truly great video from the UK Centre for Child Exploitation and Online Protection. The video shows a girl who posts a giant sign outside her house with all of her personal information, then leaves her door open. An older man sees the sign, and writes down her information, then walks into her house. He begins taking her photos off the wall and placing them in his bag, then he starts to talk to her, lying about what he looks like. At the end, it’s revealed that all of those events took place on the internet, not in person, and the video emphasizes the fact that people are more careful in the real world than in the online world. You can see the video here.

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I process the video with the group, and we begin our discussion on internet safety. I ask the students to raise their hands if they have a cell phone, laptop, or tablet that they can use to access the internet, and of course, all of the students raise their hands. We talk about the different apps that the students use, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Musically, and ooVoo {but not Facebook, because apparently that’s for old people 😛 }, as well as the safe ways to use those applications.

There are 3 facts I share with my students that they always seem to be shocked by: (1) That Snapchat legally owns all of the pictures that are “snapped,” and they are not truly gone forever; (2) If they have Instagram profiles that are set to private but have followers who they have never met before, those followers can save or share their pictures; (3) If they have pictures of themselves in their school uniforms on social media {and again have people following them that they’ve never met, or if they have a public profile}, people can easily figure out where they go to school.

After talking about internet safety, we transition our discussion to cyber bullying. First, we define bullying and meanness {which sometimes they don’t realize are very different things}. After we define bullying, we talk about how cyber bullying is different. Cyber bullying can happen 24/7, people who bully online can easily recruit other people to join in, and people are more likely to say awful things on the internet than they are to say them in person.

We also talk about what they should do if they or someone they know is being bullied in the digital world. I’ve found over the years that children and teens initially think they should delete unkind messages they receive because they are afraid they will get in trouble for having those messages on their phones. I emphasize the importance of SAVING ALL EVIDENCE OF CYBER BULLYING. In my eyes, the one benefit of cyber bullying is that there is proof it is happening. The bully cannot deny his or her actions, and school administrators don’t have to wonder who to believe if students screenshot the evidence.

Overall, I think this lesson is really effective. Student participation and engagement when I implement this lesson is so high because the topic is extremely relevant to their lives. In fact, my students from last year, are still talking about this lesson a year later, which tells me it had a significant impact.


 

On Wednesday, I will post part II of this series, which will be my 6th grade lesson on cyber bullying {with a cyber safety review}.


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