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Don't Feed the Trolls

Find out ways you can deal with mean behavior online.

This activity takes 55 minutes.

You may find these resources helpful:

Digital Bytes

Digital Bytes Facilitator's Guide


WHAT YOU'LL NEED

Computer or Phone
WiFiInternet
Speakers
Headphones
PencilAndPaper
MobilePhones
DigitalVideoCamera
 

STEP 1
TIME: 10 MINUTES

Play Telephone

Gather a group of friends and play Telephone. One person begins by whispering a message into the ear of the next person. That person whispers whatever he or she heard into the ear of the following person. When the last person has received the message, he or she says it out loud. Then the first person repeats the original message. The two will probably be very different. Play a few rounds.

Next, talk about how digital messages and news items change as they are passed around online. Can you give an example of when you noticed this happening online? Has one of your messages ever been distorted and reached the ears of someone it was not intended to?
Lead your members in playing a few rounds of Telephone. To add a more competitive element, you can divide the group into two teams. Tell the sentence to the first player on each team. The teams then race to see which team gets the message to their last player the fastest and the most accurately.

A few Telephone sentence ideas:
  -- The angry birds ate candy and crushed the subway surfer.
  -- Twelve tumbling purple people pulled turnips.
  -- Recess rocks restless roosters.

After playing a few rounds, lead a discussion about how digital messages and news change as they are passed around online. Ask, “Can you give an example of when you noticed this happening online? Has one of your messages ever been distorted and reached the ears of someone it was not intended to? How did this make you feel?”

STEP 2
TIME: 5 MINUTES

Learn More About Mean Behavior Online

Watch this video.

4Trolling from Common Sense Educators on Vimeo.

After you’ve seen it, choose one of the following questions to answer. You can write down your answers or talk about them with someone else. or by discussing it with someone else.

  -- What was your biggest takeaway from this video?
  -- What part of this video struck you the most? Why?
  -- What do you want to know more about? Why?

Watch the video as a group or have members watch individually or in pairs. Then have them work as a group, small group, or in pairs and discuss one of the questions listed in the youth instructions. Members could also write down their answers.

STEP 3
TIME: 15 MINUTES

Go In Depth

Check out this video.


After watching the video, think about these questions:

  --Does the internet help people act more cruelly online than they would offline?
  -- Or has cruel behavior always existed offline, with the internet only helping make it more visible?

Now have a short debate with a partner or a group. One side should make the argument that the internet is to blame for making people act more cruelly. The other side argues that the Internet isn’t at fault, but that it just makes the mean behavior more noticeable.

If both people or groups want to argue the same side, flip a coin to determine who gets to choose the side they argue. Keep your points brief and focused. Set a timer and let each side speak for only a minute at a time. Go back and forth a few times.

If you prefer, you can try writing a response to each side of the argument. Can you make the written arguments for each side equally as convincing?

After members watch the video, lead a short discussion about these questions:

  -- Does the internet help people act more cruelly online than they would offline?
  -- Or has cruel behavior always existed offline, with the Internet only helping make it more visible?

Next, hold a short debate. Divide the group into two sides. Assign each side a point of view. One side should make the argument that the internet is to blame for making people act more cruelly. The other side argues that the internet isn’t at fault, but that it just makes the mean behavior more noticeable. In short, is the internet is to blame or not to blame?

Give the groups two minutes to prepare their arguments. Then facilitate a debate. You may want to set a timer so that each side has the floor for one minute at a time. Then go back and forth between each side four times.


STEP 4
TIME: 20 MINUTES

Make a Video

In the 1800s, an English author wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Do you think it’s true that writing can get a message across more strongly than an action? Whether your first response was to agree with the statement or not, give the power of the written word a try with this project.

Create a video to help reduce the effects of the negative activities of cyberbullies and trolls. Capture yourself and your friends writing or holding up motivational messages to uplift people who feel upset, hurt or alone. Take the video in a single shot. Each person should display his or her written message silently for the viewers to read. Let the power of the words “speak” for you.
Ask members to reflect on the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Elicit opinions from people who both agree and disagree with the statement.

Explain that members will work in small groups to create videos to counter the negative activities of cyberbullies and trolls. Tell members to film video of group members writing or holding up motivational messages to uplift people who feel upset, hurt or alone. Each person should display his or her written message silently for the viewers to read.

If time allows, have members edit the clips together using video-editing programs, like WeVideo, or software.If members use WeVideo, give them the group username and password you created. 

In addition, if members are experienced or comfortable with editing videos, you can suggest that they add effects like music. However, discourage using voice-overs or narration because the goal of the project is to let the power of the words “speak” for themselves.

STEP 5
TIME: 5 MINUTES

Save and Submit

Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, and share the video’s URL to earn a star.

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