With social distancing and the shift to distance learning, students spend more time online than ever. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to educate students about cyberbullying. Often, teaching students how to recognize cyberbullying is the first step to stopping it. However, social-emotional learning allows schools to go one step further, showing students how to be kind and compassionate online. Simply by taking some time to discuss online communication, emotions, and frustrations, educators can work towards cyberbullying prevention.

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning is a process by which students are taught to comprehend and manage their  feelings. As a result, students develop empathy and compassion. Social-emotional learning also helps students to be more responsible with their actions and decisions, including their actions online. Thankfully for distance learners, it’s not only possible to engage in this kind of learning online, but technology can facilitate social-emotional learning.


In online breakout groups, have students discuss their feelings regarding the pandemic or the switch to online or hybrid learning. Teachers can model and facilitate these conversations with anchor charts. Students can also learn how to understand their emotions through role play. Encouraging an accepting environment in the online classroom can foster a better understanding of supportive online behavior outside of the classroom. An educator could have guiding questions or a words of affirmation exercise to build community.

Reward Positivity

When you see students interacting in a positive way, reward them. Breakout groups can become places where students motivate each other or study together. By fostering these positive, personal relationships, students will learn strong digital citizenship skills. Teachers can even adapt bellringers that encourage positive thinking to online learning. Give students a positive prompt to answer at the beginning of the school day. After all, if you encourage positivity, it is likely you’ll see more of it.

Teaching Digital Citizenship

By educating students about digital citizenship, educators can convey important skills such as communication, compassion and self-control. If students understand how to treat each other in the online classroom, they’ll learn how to treat each other everywhere online. Educators could share a hypothetical case of cyberbullying with their students. Then, ask students how they would approach and resolve this situation. It might help to even have them in breakout groups and see who comes to the same conclusion.

Have Discussions in the Classroom

Allowing students to discuss online issues that bother them while in class will create a sense of safety and camaraderie amongst their peers. Challenge the students to think of how they could prevent and not participate in cyberbullying. Letting the students speak about common unhealthy behaviors online will help students to understand that they all see an issue with the way social media is used to bully.

Promote a Safe Learning Environment on School Computers

Through the use of monitoring software, schools can help students recognize and change at-risk behavior online. Monitoring software like LearnSafe can detect cyberbullying and other at-risk behaviors. This way, administrators can intervene, stopping dangerous situations before it’s too late. It can also alert administrators and educators to specific issues that can be positively addressed through social-emotional learning. LearnSafe can even be installed on laptops sent home for distance learning, ensuring student safety no matter where learning takes place.

Text by Claire Manasco


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