Knowledge is POWERFUL!
The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy
Katrice S. Wright
Cultivating Empathy in the Digital World. What worked, What could have been done better, and how to apply the lessons learned.
- Reason for review
Cultivating empathy with middle school students, embracing the idea that empathy can be developing when significant learning environments are provided.
- Introduction (Abstract)
Students have lost the meaning and action of empathy when dealing in a digital environment. Having been immersed in a new teaching design and keeping a growth mindset, life has changed with teaching and learning. Therefore, the change in which education had to shift was in the middle of a world pandemic. The focus and research are geared toward middle school students. Students work with a 1:1 device and the applications of several meaningful technology tools to better their learning and ownership of digital etiquettes. Most of the students in this innovative plan are in a Title One school with many outside situations that can cause a deficiency in their empathy. This research can help with changing the culture of such young and impressable minds.
Many have studied and documented their research with this phenomenon of children lacking empathy in the digital world. Some have concluded screen time and the lack of face to face social interaction. The study used for this review focuses on education and using technology to enhance empathy and ownership of actions in the digital world.
Willing this literature review will bring about a more in-depth understanding of why empathy needs to fully immerse in digital citizenship lessons. The field of education has similarly begun to see the importance of empathy in teaching its teachers. White (1999) outlined empathy and understanding of the student as one of the four “personal-social emotional feelings that impact teaching and what is learned in the classroom” (p. 122). Empathy is a personal and emotional trait that occurs within the said person’s mind and being. To actual conduct, a quantitative measure is robust. The literature review will address the concerns and importance of teaching empathy within the educator and the students.
- Research (What worked)
A. Research shows cyber-bullying aids in aggressive behaviors
Using solution-focused dramatic empathy training to eliminate cyber-bullying
The purpose of this study was to enlighten or give a better understanding of cyber-bullying, which has become an unfortunate reality suffered by thousands of students and appears to have become part of the landscape of adolescent communication patterns. (Hicks, LeClair, Berry, 2016). Cyber-bullying is a subset behavior of typical face-to-face bullying has become a worldwide phenomenon (Cassidy, Faucher, & Jackson, 2013; Holfeld & Leadbeater, 2015). Taylor & Francis may be a victim to the schoolyard. Cyber-bullying occurs in the digital world where cruelty and victimization are not governed by typical physical presence, time, and opportunity constraints. Because of the permanent nature of messages sent digitally, victims can re-experience bullying as often as they reread their posts (Chibbaro, 2007; Hicks & Crews, 2015; Hicks, Skoog, & Crews, 2015). Comments sent electronically are done so with phenomenal speed and can remain in the cyber world indefinitely (Hicks & Crews, 2015; Hicks et al., 2015).
The literature discusses risk factors associated with cyber-bullying (Haynie et al., 2001; Nansel et al., 2001; Vandebosch & Van Cleemput, 2009; Wolak, Mitchel, & Finkelhor, 2007). For example, the more often youth use the internet, the more likely they are to bully or cyber-bully others (Li, 2007).
Rice et al. (2015) reported 4% of youth to admit to being perpetrators and 5% of youth between Grades 6–10 report being victims of cyber-bullying. Juvenon and Gross (2008) reported earlier that one-third of youth between the ages of 12–17 are victims of cyber-bullying. Li (2007) said that one in five students, 380 J. FROESCHLE HICKS ET AL. in junior high school, have suffered at some point from cyber-bullying. Thus, schools must address this problem (Chibbaro, 2007; Hicks et al., 2015).
With more cyberbullying and students taking less responsibility for their actions, we have another teen-driven form of cyber-bullying is the use of emoji. Emoji is a Japanese cultural phenomenon that allows people to express themselves using images in place of words. These images or icons are based on any number of platforms, and the variety is expanding rapidly. While text messages or tweets are often misinterpreted as being fueled by disdain or anger, emoji icons communicate a concise message (Emoticons, 2015). For example, emoji offer meaning without written speech, voice intonations, syntax, or varying nuances. Initially, emoji were used to communicate proper social conventions such as smiling or bowing as a form of respect in Japan. Emoji have morphed into direct communications that can have a hurtful, stinging, and threatening effect. Recently, a series of emoji were released by the Unicode Consortium, allowing teens to take a stand if they witness bullying or cyber-bullying. Madov (2015) stated that 60% of teens want to take a stand but need knowledge on how to proceed. These new emoji offer a unique and safe method of responding to those teens who fear speaking up. The icon consists of a speech bubble blended with an eye’s image and implies I know what you said, and it’s not cool. The use of these icons could be incorporated easily into cyber-bullying interventions as a method targeted towards teaching teens to support one another.
What worked in my innovation plan is student engagement. Students have to be immersed in the idea of being empathic. Reviewing several articles, one, in particular, focused on students in the recent world pandemic and how students had to deal with anti-racist digital citizenship. We situate xenophobia within the bigger context of digital citizenship in the time of the pandemic. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has social ramifications, and its effects on people of color are magnified by unfounded antipathy and stereotypes. Words, memes, gifs, and photos depicting malevolent characterizations of Asians are simply racist and discriminatory. This xenophobic narrative is pervasive online, and it feeds the minds of many middle and high school students. Ninety-five percent of young adults have access to digital devices (Anderson & Jiang, 2020; Kenna & Hensley, 2019). Eighty-one percent of these teenagers, ages 13 to 17, use social media (Common Sense Media, 2018). Because of mobile devices’ dominant use and easy access to digital information among youths, we offer middle and high school teachers an anti-racist framework for teaching digital citizenship in social studies. Having studied the article and understanding that students are influenced by their environment and those who affect their lives.
Reviewing the work that Claraval and Evans-Amalu completed, their work was beneficial for this innovation plan because students have formed negative behaviors from media and having a lack of compassion. Understanding anti-racist pedagogy in social studies empowers teachers to reframe digital citizenship through an anti-racist lens, teaching students to challenge racial inequity in online spaces. With such a large number of teens using social media, digital citizenship should encourage students to participate in an online community that is inclusive and attends to issues of human rights, social justice, and other forms of political participation (Mossberger, Tolbert, & McNeal, 2008; Oyedemi, 2018). Students must learn to acknowledge the presence of institutionalized racism in online sources and distinguish the difference between racially charged narratives and factual information (King & Chandler, 2016). The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS, 2016) calls for enhancing students’ critical thinking skills via digital citizenship so that students may ask questions, assess credibility, and reflect on varied information presented to them both in and outside of the classroom.
As educators, we recognize that this may be quite a challenging undertaking for students. The pandemic has already created a stressful learning environment with the switch to online schooling. When we account for xenophobic social media, this may exacerbate any attempt at anti-racist learning (Levy et al., 2016; Sampaio, 2020). However, in an age where the media may be espousing fake and harmful information (e.g., conspiracy theories about the origin of coronavirus, racial remarks), it is imperative to develop skills that foster critical thinking outside of cognitive bias (Ball & Maxmen, 2020; Firth et al., 2019; Workman, 2018).
Research can prove that knowledge is a study, but for it to work, the lessons have to be aligned with a real purpose. Cultivating empathy among students has been connected to some desired outcomes, such as positive peer relationships and better communication and collaboration skills. The teacher needs to express empathy and how it can influence a variety of contexts and interactions.Thus, nurturing students’ well-being and promoting a positive, empathic culture can make classrooms and schools a safe place for children. Using empathy as part of students’ social skills, they will learn to understand each other and build a connection based on positive relationships of trust. (Owen, 2015).So is it safe to say that it is important to teach students to be more conscious of others’ experiences before giving a negative response?
Empathy can cultivate patience and tolerance among students and may even decrease the number of bullying cases in schools. When we put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we become more sensitive to what they are really experiencing and are less likely to tease or bully them (Fisher, 2016).
- Research with the Issue of Digital Empathy
The Emerging Issue of Digital Empathy
Having read and the researchers’ study, middle school students, are genuinely struggling with more than face-to-face harassment dealing with digital bullying (Cain& Terry, 2016). Research shows that, with modern advances in technology, the appropriate expression of empathy in today’s age is being threatened, primarily due to psychological processes that form online disinhibition (Cain &Tery,2016). “We offer a definition of digital empathy as the “traditional empathic characteristics such as concern and caring for others expressed through computer-mediated communications.” (Cain &Terry, 2016). In the article, the authors believe that “While there may be other influences, the online disinhibition effect14 describes several subtle but influential underlying factors that contribute to the nature of communication via digital devices. These factors may help explain the sometimes toxic and aggressive nature of online communications (Tsikerdekis,2012).
Problem-solving; basically, it is a conflict situation where the individual faces an obstacle in reaching a goal. Inhibition makes it challenging to achieve the target. In such a situation, problem-solving is to find the best way to overcome the obstacle (Morgan, 1999). Besides, problem-solving is the process that one goes through from feeling the problem of finding a solution for him/her (Atabay, 2004; Bingham, 2004; Korkut, 2002). It is also a complex mental process that includes high-level thinking, remembering, evaluating available information, making decisions, and evaluating results (Ulupınar, 1999). In other words, problem-solving is a method of understanding the environment and controlling it in this way (Sahin & Ramazan, 2000). Problem-solving skills obtain information that will lead the person to a solution and apply it to resolve a problem by combining it with being ready for use. Human life is full of issues in different numbers and structures that need to be solved. Sometimes, one problem emerges before another, or many issues coincide, and life becomes meaningful with difficulties. A problem-solving sequence consisting of problem determination, information gathering, goal setting, planning, application, and evaluation stages is used in every day of life (Bahar, 2006). When these evaluations are taken into account, people’s motivation to play digital games are affected by many situations.
Understanding the innovation plan and the goals will have success and failures. Research shows that problem-solving and cultivating empathy can make create successful problem solvers. Allowing students and educators to identify the problem and work through it helps build students’ understanding of what to do and what not to do.
- Research shows that literature and picture books can give a false study or perhaps push a child’s different feelings. Students need to have more stimulating activities.
The structure of empathy during middles childhood and its relationship to prosocial behavior
What worked in research is significant learning situations and allowing antimony for the learners. These techniques depart from other contemporary methods used in participatory planning and design, such as community meetings, simulation games, and visual preference activities, to incorporate participatory digital media. While researchers and participation experts often encourage the use of contemporary participatory methods (Sanoff, 2000), the practices often reflect the dominant culture’s expectations and cultural participation norms. For example, participants of a community meeting or workshop may be expected to communicate their opinion in a traditional forum with a microphone in front of a crowd. However, for participants such as Latino youth, this may not be the setting with which they are comfortable. In contrast, digital photography allows young people to use standard technology and provides more options to capture and share their experiences. These techniques can empower youth to contest the dominant social stereotypes by relying on insider knowledge of their own lives (Messias et al., 2008.
Analogic and digital media are “the new support for public knowledge” (Pérez-Tornero, 2007: 33). As stated by Buckingham (2003: 189), “there has been a growing acknowledgment that the school is not the only preserve of education; and that learning can and does occur in the workplace, in the home and the context of leisure activities.” According to Gee (2004: 77), “people learn best when their learning is part of a highly motivated engagement with social practices which they value,” and digital media makes it possible. It can quickly bring people together based on shared interests and purposes, forming affinity spaces, and their affordances also allow more relational and realistic learning situations (Gee, 2004; Costa, Cuzzocrea, & Nuzzaci, 2014; Aaen & Dalsgaard, 2016).
- Connecting students to technology responsibility in real-world and online
Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically
Moving into a digital world and education is the pathway for the proper usage, “The Internet as we know it is the 21st century…It is what these students have known their whole lives. They’re connected, they’re creating, they’re discussing, they’re collaborating.” (Sheninger,2011). These technology changes cause school leaders to add new policies and guidelines for safe and appropriate use while simultaneously improving their own digital literacy skills. Karen Cator of the U.S. Department of Education stated that educational environments need to be safe places for students (Cator, 2009). The American Library Association policy statement on digital use included a reference to school personnel’s responsibility to “educate minors to participate responsibly, ethically and safely.” (American Library of Association Council, 2009).
Still, considering the platforms that are used to cultivate empathy. Organizations have to respect the choice of their teachers. More research can, “to help educators begin to address specific technology and citizenship issues, such as cyberbullying (and other technology misuses), has become a focus for educational leaders. Many anti-bullying programs and tools are available, but with little direction, instruction, or follow-up, and these programs often have less than favorable results. Technology users of all ages are now reaping the benefits, as well as the problems that go along with more than a decade of rapidly increasing technological advances, without direction about appropriate use. Educational leaders have a responsibility as protectors of students, and as such, can become part of the problem if they do not take proactive steps to begin finding solutions to cyberbullying and other technological issues” (Ribble,2010).
Always there is research that can make connections and have terminology that will work for this innovation plan. The dynamic, participatory nature of including digital technology in the classroom has been termed ‘connectivism’ (Conrad & Donaldson, 2012) and allows an instructor to guide (not lead) the learning. Exploring topics or concepts on a shared, online pathway provides an open, inclusive approach that, by its nature, must appreciate the globally connected culture of fluid, digital spaces. Accordingly, studies have found that contributing to this democratic platform, there is an opportunity to define and create new global (and local) narratives (Dow, 2008; Fried, 2016; Orr, 2016). Based on these notions, and when applied to education, the new learning narratives could show the value of instigating an adaptive, digital pedagogy. A participatory culture of digital learning has been alive and well for some time, as seen with the global reach of online education agencies such as FutureLearn, claiming 7,252,188 learners (FutureLearn, n.d.) and Coursera, which maintains provision of “universal access to the world’s best education, partnering with top universities and organizations to offer courses online” (Coursera, 2018, n.p.).
While servicing more than one race of students, we as educators should be mindful of being culturally aware of how information is presented and expected to be learned.
When reading different articles, one about mindfulness hit home. A growing body of research has documented that a digital approach to teaching mindfulness can improve measures of attention, stress, depression, and anxiety. However, effective digital mindfulness instruction must overcome various challenges, including the possibility of low engagement, shallow learning, and unaddressed obstacles or frustrations. Fortunately, best practices from multiple fields of research provide strategies to overcome these challenges. There are now thousands of mindfulness apps on the market, and these apps attracted more than $150 million of venture capital in 2017 alone (Chaykowski 2017, Garlich 2018). Traditional face-to-face programs like MindfulnessBased Stress Reduction are also being turned into e-courses, while digital mindfulness teacher training programs are growing in popularity as well (Potter and Greene 2017).
When designing meaningful lessons, several applications must be present. Researchers have proven that by studying and being allowed to publish their findings to help support the Call to Action and innovation plan. Collective knowledge residing in the learning networks is pluralist (Spender, 1996). Knowledge systems are taken to be constructed of multiple and contradictory ideas, assumptions, beliefs, intuitions, and memories that are taken by their possessors to have socially justifiable truth values (Rooney & Schneider, 2005). So, knowledge is assumed to have truth values (re)constructed in social relations and online communication. This is also consistent with the sociological view of knowledge that sees knowledge as an expression of culture as symbolic rather than simple explanatory (McCarthy, 1996. Berger & Luckmann, 1966). This symbolic perspective suggests that sophisticated communication is essential if knowledge is shared and diffused throughout a community (Rogers, 1980; Winter, 1987; Zander & Kogut, 1995). So, a large part of wisdom is the steering and facilitating activities using collective symbols and communication
- Movin up the middle (What could have been done better)
Movin Up to the Middle
The researcher Rick Wormeli has a very informative article covering middle schoolers and their transition to the odd years. Let’s take a ride in middle schoolers emotional rollercoaster, “Given the fact that a year in a middle school student’s life is a much larger percentage of his or her overall life than it is for an adult; and given all the growth taking place — the mistakes, conflicts, insights, joy, tension, wisdom, and risk-taking; and given that students lack the perspective that comes from life experience, it’s no wonder that students experience their first year of middle school as intense and tumultuous. Every day is the end, or beginning, of all life as they know it (Wormeli,2011).
Middle schools with the best transition programs are where faculty members are in touch with their inner, young adolescent; these educators can empathize with students because they remember what it was like when they were that age. This empathy helps teachers understand students’ major worries: homework, demanding teachers, bullying, and getting lost. Schools should build practical advice for handling each one of these concerns into their transition programs. (Wormeli,2011).
The only reason students raise their hands to answer a question, turn in assignments, or participate in the world is that there’s hope for a positive outcome. Without hope, a child will throw down the ball and go home — and we can’t teach a child who is not physically or emotionally present. Let’s put hope into every day. This is not a syrupy greeting card sentiment — it’s visceral. (Wormeli, 2011). The author also states that we should build hope middle school students struggle with controlling impulsive behavior. Sending a text message instead of using real communication to handle things. They make snide or rude remakes and actions.
All lessons will become learned. Teaching and learning cannot assign a due date. Educators take time to implement the tasks, whit work, and modeling from instructional coaches to become an example of a willing learner’s reliable measure.
Teachers and digital learners have to really immerse themselves in applying the lessons. Innovation plans and creating a real call to action have to be based on allowing improvements and openness to change. That is the purpose of all the work that is done to help students become better digital citizens. Using appropriate behaviors. Myers, Erickson & Small (2013) define a digitally literate individual as someone who “knows when and how to effectively employ digital resources to resolve an information need” as well as “how to evaluate digital documents (p. 358). Our increasingly digital education system requires that teachers not only consume digital texts but also engage “in the activity of digital information creation” (Meyers, Erickson & Small, 2013, p. 362) as critical thinkers and digital text producers (Howard, 2014; Terras, 2015). Teachers’ instructional moves in the digital realm today are largely determined by individual teachers’ past experiences and available professional development offerings (Hafner, 2015). Therefore, teacher educators and experienced development facilitators must incorporate digital literacy learning experiences in all that they do so that educators may continually “engage in meaningful literacy practices in a variety of social contexts” (Rosaen & Terpstra, 2012, p. 37).
Having this idea in mind when creating and desiring a mindful lesson is essential.
Allowing students to use what they have to make the learning connection. The article Curbing Digital Distractions in the classroom spoke volumes about what most educators worry about when technology is used. Since teaching and learning have become blended and in need of any tech tool, research shows, There are many benefits for using technology in the classroom (see Campbell, 2006; D’Angelo & Woosley, 2007). Access to learning apps, platforms, and nearly infinite amounts of information can provide for engaging instruction and meaningful student learning. However, not all technology use in class is beneficial. When used for non-course related purposes, students’ technology use on their personal devices can pose a distraction to themselves and their peers. Having so many opinions and a lack of empathy from the powers that be, educators have to find ways to make it work (happen). Any device will do becomes the slogan for technology in the classroom.
Allowing students to use their own devices can be problematic, but it can create a connection. No matter what, engagement should stay in front of teaching and learning. McCoy (2013) found that 70% of students noted their need to stay connected as the most reported advantage of using digital devices in class. This desire for connection may be explained by a phenomenon called FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out (Abel, Buff, & Burr, 2016).
Some studies and their views on having a meaningful lesson assuring all learning experiences are adequate yet significant with further research. Creating noteworthy examples for the organization to actually have a call to action is the most.
Despite the growing concern about the dangers of surfing the Web and their effects on adolescents. Studies show that adults, children, and adolescents believe that the Web’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages (Lamish, Riback and Aloni, 2009; Lenhart, 2005; Livingston and Bober, 2005; Taylor and Kitter, 2010). In view of the importance of the beneficial and dangerous uses of the Web, the Byron report (2008) recommends that curricula be included in teacher training to teach students to use the Web intelligently. As a result of these recommendations, teaching materials were developed, and student workshops were conducted (Woolward et al., 2009). The findings of studies indicate that people can learn to intelligently use the Web in a variety of formal and autodidactic ways and that e-safety education contributes to a heightened awareness of adults and By children regarding the dangers of the Web and the safer behavior of young and older surfers (Ofcom, 2010a & 2010b). In addition, teachers were found to be significant mediators for intelligent use of the Web, particularly among pupils of elementary school age from low socioeconomic status. The teachers’ involvement and their importance as mediators were also found to be culture-dependent (Livingstone, Haddon & Görzig, 2010)
- Using disruptive technology in the classroom (Applying what has been learned)
Some research shows that students and teachers can positively relate to technology and media in a learning environment. Research into media uses and gratifications revealed that one of the main reasons teenagers used disruptive devices was to escape from school (Dunne et al., ; Park et al., ). This directly conflicted with teachers’ desire to integrate social media networks and mobile phones into the school curriculum. This could explain why all three teachers cited the teacher-studentrelationship – the social-emotional bond that connected the two groups – as the driving force for their endeavors to connect with students through technology. The role of the teacher-studentrelationship in both teachers’ and students’ decisions to engage online was an unexpected research finding. While the idea that social media met one’s socializing needs was not shocking, finding that educational, social media interactions did come as a surprise. This information could help teachers build stronger online classroom communities in the future and should be considered before school districts or lawmakers make policy decisions regarding teacher-student interactions in digital spaces. Denying teachers and studentsaccess and interaction through social media networks would negate teachers’ goals for increased learning inside and outside the classroom. (Nowell, 2014).
- Empathy and imagination
Empathy and Imagination: Nurturing children’s and adolescent’s spiritual well being in the digital environment
What has been learned is students will be creative and can change. Albert Einstein said: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world” (Viereck1929:117). The importance of the imagination is also highlighted by J. K. Rowling (2008), who explains that people would not be able to empathize with what other people have experienced without imagination. Hence, imagination and empathy go hand in hand. Empathy is when a person can share another person’s emotions that moves them to act in a certain way in a social context (Overgaauw 2017 et al. 8). As was explained above by Hart (2006:172), young people have a great capacity to empathize with other people. Children and adolescents who are empathetic have the vital ability to constructively adapt to social interactions (Overgaauw 2017 et al. 8). However, the ability to imagine and empathize, Margalit (2016) explains, can be stunted by too much exposure to screen time and too little human interaction. (Apostolids,2018). Having meaningful lessons with significant learning experiences, students will show empathy in a digital setting.
Reviewing several different articles concerning empathy and the ownership middle school students have come down to the individual student, how secure they are with their work, themselves, and their social relationship. The use of technology is not going away. With more districts and educators implementing technology into the classroom, more students need training on empathy and how to handle themselves in a digital world. Future research will need to continue. In this ever-changing digital world, empathy is a lesson that must be incorporated into digital citizenship lessons. Understanding the true meaning of compassion and not sympathy is the steppingstone to cultivating our students.
Having to look at empathy on a global scale, the world needs to cultivate empathy by any means necessary. The article, The influence of digital globalization on an East African university, states that While the international movement of academics, researchers, students, and knowledge between universities has a long history, what digital technologies have done is speed up the ease of information and data transfer (Bedenlier & Zawacki-Richter 2015). Notable among these technologies in education is the growth of social media technologies. Also, the article speaks on what we now know we can learn and help with knowledge. . Although most of these applications started as amateur-driven community platforms, they have become sizeable global data corporations (for example, Google, Facebook, and YouTube) and serve as an active knowledge hub facilitating the free flow of ideas on a global scale. More specifically, applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have transformed the way people communicate and relate to each other, play, access job opportunities, and advance their careers (Greenhow & Gleason 2012). In education, social media applications and platforms have evolved to support various activities, including peer-learning and sharing of learning resources. For instance, Facebook facilitates a sense of community in language classrooms (Blattner & Lomicka 2012) and can play a critical role in developing and maintaining a language (Cunliffe, Morris, & Prys 2013).
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