Online Ethics and Empathy

Offline & Connect
Offline & Connect
Involved & Inclusive
Involved & Inclusive
Feeling & Expressing
Feeling & Expressing
Friend & Mentors
Friend & Mentors

Participants are introduced to the idea that “hot” emotional states like anger or excitement, can make it more difficult to control their actions. As well, they will discuss the concept of empathy and look at the way in which digital communication can make it difficult for us to feel it for others.



Participants will read scenarios that portray two sides of an online conflict and consider how to resolve them, using their discussion to build a list of tools for emotional management and conflict resolution online.


  1. Start by asking your group to write down three things people have don that have made them happy and three that made them mad (either on or offline).  Tell them to think back to those moments and try to remember how they felt.

    For how long did they stay happy or mad?
    What did feeling that way make them do or want to do?

  2. Happiness and anger are examples of “hot” emotions. They both can be difficult to mange and can make us do things we normally wouldn’t.

    Do we always know when we’re feeling “hot” emotions?
    How do our bodies tell us when we’re feeling “hot” emotions?
    How do “hot” emotions affect how we think and make decisions?

  3. Ask your group if they know what empathy is: feeling what other people feel and recognizing how other people feel.

    What are the clues that tell us how someone else is feeling?
    What could happen if we don’t recognize how someone is feeling?

  4. Start a chart on a blackboard or piece of paper and have your group think about how talking to someone offline versus online is different.

    Can you see them? Can they see you?
    Can you hear them? Can they hear you?|
    Can others hear or see you?
    What happens to the things you say?
    Do we know how other react to the things we say

  5. Distribute scenarios from side A, read, discuss.
  6. Distribute scenarios from side B, read, and discuss.


  • Divide your group into pairs if they are older, to have them read and discuss with a partner.


  • There are no foreseeable safety concerns for this activity.


After reading the scenarios from side A, discuss the answer to the first three questions. Then, after reading through side B, discuss all four questions.

  • How would you feel if you were ?
  • What would you do to resolve the situation?
  • Who would be affected by what you do?
  • Does this change how you felt about this story when you heard it from the other point of view?

Obtained from: