Sameer and I regularly speak to students about the importance of using technology safely and responsibly. Due to time and resource constraints, this is often done in large school assemblies. By themselves, assemblies likely don’t accomplish all that we would hope for in educating young people about these issues, but they can serve as one component of what would ideally be a multi-pronged approach to teaching digital citizenship.
We’ve learned over the years that it is crucial to be open, honest, and real with students about what they are doing, seeing, and experiencing online. Attempting to scare them away from technology by offering only the worst-case scenarios (sex offender registries and suicide), doesn’t seem to resonate with students (and may also be counterproductive). It’s like warning them about going out in the rain by telling them that they will be struck by lightning. That could happen, but it isn’t likely. There are, however, other reasons not to go out in the rain.
We’ve also learned that we need to convey the information in a way that is interesting and entertaining. We can’t just get up on stage, stand behind a podium, and lecture to them in a monotone voice for an hour about what they should and shouldn’t do online. In our presentations, we try to be dynamic, energetic, and interactive. We use PowerPoint to illustrate what we are talking about. When possible, we use flash polling so that students can participate in the discussion via their mobile devices and see their aggregated responses to various questions appear instantly on the screen.
In addition, we also often include one or two short videos to help break up these presentations. Many students and adults have asked us over the years for links to these videos so I thought I would list some of our favorites here (see others on our YouTube Channel). If we find new ones that are great, we’ll add to this list. If you have some suggestions for new videos that you have found resonate well with youth, please offer them in the comments!
“Let’s Fight It Together”
May 3, 2008
Sameer first found this video on a trip he made to the UK several years ago. This is an older video (by technology standards), but it’s still a very good overview of the issues (especially for younger students). We still sometimes show this to upper elementary and middle school students. I have to admit that when we first watched this it really looked like the story was going to end very badly. And frankly, if it did end that way (with Joe committing suicide), we would not show it (especially not in schools). There are too many of those kinds of fear-based videos out there and we try to avoid them.
1. How did the bullying start in the first place?
2. Why did Joe resist telling adults in his life about what he was experiencing?
3. If you were on the bus when Joe was being made fun of, what could you have done?
4. Why were the police called to the school at the end?
5. The ending is a bit abrupt: one minute Joe is being mistreated by his friends, the next they are all friends again. What do you think happened during that time to resolve this? What could you do if something like this happened to you?
“Where Are You?”
Mark C. Eshemon
This video was submitted to Trend Micro’s annual “What’s Your Story” video contest. After viewing, you can see why it was the winner. It is compelling, eloquent, creative, and totally relatable and engaging to students. Middle and high school students really appreciate the unique way important messages are conveyed in this video.
1. Can you think of a time when you have been on the wrong side of the line?
2. How can you encourage your friends to stay on the right side of the line?
3. Do you think you could write and perform something like this? Give it a shot and let your words matter!
Anti-Bullying Learning and Teaching Resource (ALTER) Catholic Education Office, Wollongong
May 30, 2012
Australian researcher Donna Cross introduced me to this wonderful video created by students and staff at a Catholic school in New South Wales, Australia. What I love most about this video is its simplicity. The students acknowledge the problem and then offer suggestions for what to do.
1. Can you think of any other ideas for what to do when you see bullying?
2. This is an example of something that was largely student-directed and created. What can you do in your school to help stop bullying?
“We Are All Daniel Cui”
October 31, 2012
Daniel Cui was a freshman soccer goalie from Hillsborough, California. During his first season, a lot of students were blaming him and bullying him online for his team losing all of their games. To show support for Daniel, his teammates and dozens of other students changed their Facebook profile pictures to one of him making a great save. Others tagged, liked, and commented on the photo posts to encourage and cheer Daniel on. He came back the following year and played with a new sense of confidence, helping his team to many victories. This shows what can happen when we demonstrate to others we believe in them and build them up, rather than hate on them and tear them down. This video was produced by Facebook to highlight the importance of standing up for others (online and off).
1. How do labels influence our behaviors?
2. Do you stand up for others when you see them being put down online or at school?
3. Are there ways to show support for others through the use of social media?
October 31, 2012
This video discusses some relatively new tools that Facebook offers to resolve conflict on their platform. Students who are new to social media could benefit from an introduction to some of the most common reporting tools.
1. Did you know about these Facebook features before seeing this video?
2. Do you think the strategies discussed can be effective?
3. What else could Facebook or other social media environments to do help curb cyberbullying?
“To This Day”
February 19, 2013
This is another great spoken word poem. Written by Shane Koyczan, this is based on a very popular TED Talk. It is a bit long so we don’t show it in school assemblies, but it can be good when you have more time to spend with students.
1. How do nicknames define who we are?
2. Do you think it is true that words spoken or typed don’t hurt as much as physical bullying?
Flash Mobs, Lip Dubs, and Other Creative Group Efforts
Many schools and other youth groups across the globe have created amazing public awareness campaigns using music and dance. Here are some that we like (just search YouTube and you can find dozens of others!):
David Lloyd George Elementary School, Oakridge Center, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Freeport High School
Cypress Ranch High School Anti-Bullying Lip Dub “Who Do U Think U R?”
Clarksville Jr High Shake It Off Lip Dub
Yantacaw Elementary School “STANDS UP”
1. Do you have an idea for a public display to help bring awareness to this problem?
2. If you had unlimited resources (money, time, people), what would you do to prevent cyberbullying and promote kindness?