Behaving Ethically Online: Ethics and Empathy Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 4 to 6

Duration: 1-2 hours

Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & CREATE: A Digital Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson, students are introduced to the idea that “hot” emotional states such as anger or excitement can make it harder for them to control how they act. They also discuss the concept of empathy and look at the ways in which digital communication can make it harder to feel empathy for other people. Students then 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. Finally, students create a media product that explains and reminds them of one of those tools.

The lesson is part of the Stay on the Path: Teaching Kids to be Safe and Ethical Online lesson series.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • learn to identify “hot” emotional states and their effects on decision-making
  • practice extending empathy to the online context
  • identify differences between online and offline communication
  • explore moral dilemmas relating to online communication
  • learn skills for managing emotions during online interactions
  • practice preventing and managing conflict during online interactions
  • create a media product

Home and School Connection

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.