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Connectivism Course 2 Digital Footprint Privacy

Offline = Online – Does it really matter?

When I checked the verbs “to mob” (mobbing) and “to bully” in a online dictionary, I got very strong verbs in German that I haven’t used for years in my active vocabulary: belästigen, anpöbeln, tyrannisieren, schikanieren, einschüchtern, piesacken, drangsalieren, etc. Thinking about those verbs and about my experiences as a teacher, the connection to the article “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers came in my mind and the following quote of a person who commented:

Technology is not to blame. Bullying has been in existence since there was civilization. Technology has escalated and changed how bullying occurs.

I agree bullying happened / is happening in the offline world as much as it is happening in the online world – then called cyberbullying (German / English). You can observe the same kind of actions (to bully – belästigen, anpöbeln, tyrannisieren, schikanieren, einschüchtern, piesacken, drangsalieren), just in different environments and with different impacts.

This week’s questions were:

Who’s responsibility is it to teach students to be safe online? Who’s job is it to teach these skills? When and where should we be having these conversations with students? Are we taking this seriously?

Cyberbullying has to be taught but in my opinion it doesn’t start with kindergarten or school and in the first row it doesn’t have anything to do with “cyber/being online”.

I had a situation in Grade 3 last week. There is student A who is always late. When he came in the classroom, another student B said: “Finally!” with a very derogative voice. There it starts already. I asked student B to think about what he just said and how student A might feel to hear something like that. Children no matter what age need to get aware and be aware that words and actions can hurt another person. As adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to model how to feel empathy for somebody. (“Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers)

STOP TALK WALK HELP
Photo Credit: Kevin (blahoblaho) via Flickr

It also reminded me of a unit in Grade 1 called “Use your words” where the students learn a strategy to deal with conflicts. It’s called STOP – TALK – WALK – HELP and gives children a tool to say NO to something, to ask WHY somebody is doing something, to have the courage to walk away and to ask for help. And again children no matter what age need to get the self confidence to stand for their own whenever they feel to be in a wrong situation. As adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to get involved into strategies so we can again model for the children.

Does the strategy STOP – TALK – WALK – HELP would help for cyberbullying as well? Will a teenager be able to say STOP when he or she gets bombarded with mean or even worse text messages? Will he or she be confident enough to ask for reasons? Will he or she be strong enough to ignore or ask for help? It’s probably something you can learn no matter what age but the earlier the better. And again – as adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we need to encourage our children.

Growing up in a small village, being a daughter of an unpopular teacher, being a teenager at that time let me experience how it is to live with gossip around me (and our family). Students of my father talked behind my back and in a very direct way as well. Since then I hate gossiping and it’s hard for me to stand people who a big gossiper. And again, the article “Bullying” Has Little Resonance with Teenagers came in my mind, because it says:

I hear teens’ dramas reflected in their stories about how their parents fight – with each other, with their friends and family and colleagues, and with them. What teens are doing is more coarse, more direct, and more explicit. But they’re witnessing adult dramas all around them and what they tend to see isn’t pretty. Parents talking smack about work colleagues or bosses. Parents fighting with each other or ostracizing their family members over disagreements. And it’s not just parents…Teens are seeing fights and dramas all over the media. Celebrity fights and dramas aren’t just in their face; they’re glorified! And even if MTV comments on domestic abuse after airing Jersey Shore, the way that the housemates treat each other sets a standard for what’s societally acceptable. Teens are seeing drama everywhere – they’re seeing it as a legitimate part of adult society that can often lead to notoriety.

And again – as adults, as parents, as friends, as teachers we model an integer life with communication skills which let us treat each other with respect.
We are ALL responsible whenever a situation comes up.
When children grow up and experience the world around them in a very safe and loving environment offline, don’t you think their behavior and their experiences will be similar online?

 

One reply on “Offline = Online – Does it really matter?”

Agreed empathy can be taught at all levels and is in my mind the common thread to help stop bullying online as well as offline. I hope more teachers are like you and take time out to teach empathy in all its forms with students.

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