The Power of Words

This week students will learn how to empathize with those who have received mean and hurtful messages and judge what it means to cross the line from harmless to harmful communication online. This lesson comes from Common Sense Media’s Digital Citizenship Unit 1, Lesson 3.

Students will play a quick game of Kahoot to demonstrate not everyone will react to a situation in the same way. In the game, students will assign an emotion from a list of four possibilities to the emoticons shown below.  From the responses, students will understand we should not discount how other people feel just because they do not feel the same way we do about a particular situation.


Students will watch the video posted here: together on the white board.  Students will answer the discussion questions listed below:

*What happened to Guts in the video? Why did playing the game upset him? How do you think Guts felt when he was called “slowpoke”, “weird”, and “dummy”?  How is getting called names online similar to getting called names in person? Have you ever seen an example of trash talking online?  What did you do? What would you do if it happened now?  What are the rules of STOP?  In your opinion, which step in most important?  How do you treat others online? Is it ever hard to remember that there’s another person on the other side of the screen?*

Students will stand on one side of the black tape line on the floor in the front of the room. They will imagine they are online and somebody sends them a message.  Students will stay where they are if the message is okay, they will move to the opposite side of the line if the message is not okay, and they will stand on the line if they are not sure.  Students will be presented with the phrases below for this activity:

  • You are an idiot.
  • I’m having a party and you’re not invited.
  • I like your new haircut.
  • You are really ugly.
  • Thanks for the advice. Next time would you mind telling me in person rather than by texting?
  • Did you finish your homework?
  • Why is it taking you so long to finish it?
  • You are such a freak.

As a class, students will see first hand examples of how powerful the choice of words can be from the Edmodo Chat Room groups:


Students will log in to their blog to post the STOP acronym from the video as a reminder of what they should do when they are faced with hurtful words online.

S-Step away

T-Tell a trusted adult

O-Okay sites first

P-Pause and think online

Students may use word art from to create their post.

Parents can download the family fact sheet from Common Sense Media here.

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