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An initiative of Google and Test-Achats

It's cool to be kind

Mind your tone

Children interpret the emotions behind text messages to practice thinking critically and avoiding misinterpretation and conflict in online exchanges.

Goals

Make the right decisions when choosing how and what to communicate.

Identify situations in which waiting until you are face-to-face with someone is a better way to communicate than sending a text or message that may be taken the wrong way.

Let's talk

Itʼs easy to misunderstand

Young people use different types of communication for different kinds of interaction, but messages sent via chat and text can be interpreted differently than they would in person or over the phone.  

Have you ever been misunderstood in text? For example, have you ever texted a joke and your friend thought you were being serious – or even mean?  

Have you ever misunderstood someone else in a text or chat? What did you do to help clarify the communication? What could you do differently?

Activity

Materials needed
  • Sample text messages written or on one of your home devices

Review messages

Letʼs take a look at these sample text messages on the board. Your children probably have great examples too, so let’s write some more to discuss.

  • “Thatʼs so cool”
  • “Whatever”
  • “Iʼm so mad at you”
  • “CALL ME NOW”
  • “Kk fine”

Read messages out loud Now

For each message, you are going to ask your children to read it aloud in a specific tone of voice (e.g., ).

What do you notice? How might these come across to other people? How might each “message sender” better communicate what they really mean?

Takeaway

It can be hard to understand how someone is really feeling when youʼre reading a text. Be sure you choose the right tool for your next communication – and that you donʼt read too much into things that people say to you online. If you are unsure what the other person meant, find out by talking with them in person or on the phone.

Vocabulary 

Bullying

Purposefully mean behavior that is usually repeated. The person being targeted often has a hard time defending themselves.

Cyberbullying

Bullying that happens online or through using digital devices.

Harassment

A more general term than bullying that can take many forms – pestering, annoying, intimidating, humiliating, etc. – and can happen online too.

Conflict

An argument or disagreement that isn’t necessarily repeated.

Aggressor

The person doing the harassing or bullying; though sometimes called the “bully,” bullying prevention experts advise never to label people as such.

Target

The person being bullied or victimized.

Bystander

A witness to harassment or bullying who recognizes the situation but chooses not to intervene.

Upstander

A witness to harassment or bullying who supports the target privately or publicly, sometimes including trying to stop and/or report the incident they witnessed.

Amplify

To increase or widen participation or impact.

Exclusion

A form of harassment or bullying used online and offline; often referred to as “social exclusion”.

Block

A way to end all interaction with another person online, preventing them from accessing your profile, sending you messages, seeing your posts, etc., without notifying them (not always ideal in bullying situations where the target wants to know what the aggressor is saying or when the bullying has stopped).

Mute

Less final than blocking, muting is a way to stop seeing another person’s posts, comments, etc., in your social media feed when that communication gets annoying – without notifying that person or being muted from their feed (not helpful in bullying).

Anonymous

An unnamed or unknown person – someone online whose name or identity you don’t know.

Trolling

Posting or commenting online in a way that is deliberately cruel, offensive, or provocative.

Report abuse

Using a social media service’s online tools or system to report harassment, bullying, threats, and other harmful content that typically violates the service’s terms of service or community standards.