In today’s noisy online world riddled with fake news, rumours, gossip, and an infinite number of very loud opinions, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day, we are all the exact same.
We all have fears, doubts, insecurities, dreams, goals, and people we deeply care about. When we leave that response comment on a never-ending politically-rooted thread on Facebook or Instagram, we tend to disconnect from the human beings who will receive the comment you write. As you can imagine, the kids you care about do this too. And sometimes, they have less of a filter than you do.
We all recognize the powerful role that empathy plays in everyday communication. Our natural ability to see things from another person’s perspective is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we’re born with. The trouble is, as soon as we pull out our phone our empathetic nature can dissolve – quickly. We lose the instant feedback we get when speaking with another person. The screen in front of our face gives us none of that.
This may be one of the most significant reasons that cyberbullying happens. When a kid sends a hurtful comment to one of their peers, they experience no emotional feedback, and no immediate consequences.
That is why it is critical to help kids experience the power of we refer to as “Digital Empathy” (or, “Empathy 2.0”). In the “My Life Online” in-school workshop we take students through an emotional, visceral experience to help them feel the importance of Digital Empathy. Although we can’t simulate that in this post, we can give you 8 words that can instantly heighten anyone’s Digital Empathy. We’ve seen this shift happen over, and over again. Not just with kids – parents and teachers too.
Here are the words:
“It’s not a screen, it’s a human being.”
Short, sweet, and to-the-point. We invite students to commit this short, rhyming phrase to memory and put it on repeat inside their brains any time they’re communicating online. The cool part, is that this won’t just change the way they interact with their friends – it will also change the way the communicate with you via technology. “It’s not a screen, it’s a human being” – a phrase that has the potential to stop so many social media incidents before they even start.
Help us spread the word.