Teens, Technology & Tolerance: 5 Tips to Cultivate Tolerance Online
So, what can you do to cultivate a culture of tolerance in your online community? Here are some tips:
1. Be respectful
Before you post, like or comment, make sure take another look at the language that you’ve used. Does your message show respect? Or are you using derogatory terms or making statements with a slant against people from a particular background? Keep in mind that everyone is part of the same race–the human race. Watch your words.
2. Keep calm and respond
Did a friend post something that made you cringe such as a word or phrase that is derogatory against a race, religion, gender or orientation? People often post thoughts online that they would not utter in person. At times they use language that stems from a lack of awareness or ignorance whereas at other times, people purposefully express their strong opinions against a particular group in an online forum. While the Constitution does protect free speech, this freedom can be used as an excuse to be hurtful. If you choose to speak up, keep a clear mind. Respond calmly and logically. A reasonable statement can enlighten the other person. For example, a private message to your friend from school might be enough to help such as “Hey, I saw your post. I know you are a nice person, but your statement didn’t exactly come across that way.” However, you may not personally know the individual who made the statement. What else can you do? You can tactfully ask the person to take it down. You can also counter misinformation with the facts. Intolerant statements often stem from lack of knowledge, so fact-based information counters ignorance with education.
3. Be perceptive
Avoid online debates in public discussion threads as they can quickly escalate into full-blown flame wars. Use your best judgement in determining when to walk away from an online discussion before it becomes a heated argument. Hot-headedness and being brash will only make the problem worse. Keep in mind that, if you see that a person is obviously an online troll who wants nothing but to wreak havoc and have petty, insulting fights with people, then engaging with them won’t help anyone.
4. Be proactive
Social networking services such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have community guidelines that discourage hate sites, cyber bullying, harassment, and threats of violence. If you come across content that violates online community guidelines, you can ask the person that made the post to take it down, but if they will not comply, report the post to the social networking service using its built-in reporting option. As a community member, you have a responsibility to respect the online culture, so be familiar with how to report and block other accounts. Here’s an example of what you can do when you see that someone is violating the Community Guidelines.
5. Be informed
Have you discovered that you have a negative bias toward a particular race, religion, national origin, gender, orientation, disability or illness? Intolerance often stems from fear, and people fear what they don’t know. So educate yourself to become more tolerant and accepting of those who are different than yourself.Ready to spread Kindness & Tolerance? Join the Movement to Promote Kindness, Tolerance & Respect Online
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Advisory: The embedded links may contain potentially offensive material. These links have been selected to provide examples of actual instances involving teens.
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Sawyer, Diane. 20/20 Diane Sawyer Investigates: ISIS in America. ABC. Nov 5, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZew0rC9tIg
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