“Blocking a bully on social media doesn’t always bring an end to online abuse. And in some cases, it can make face-to-face interactions with the bully even worse.” A. Juhasz, NPR
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“That’s what Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said he found out when he started talking to teenagers about their experiences with bullying on the platform.
‘Most of it seems to happen between people who know each other in real life … and teenagers are often reluctant to report or block their peers who bully them online,’ Mosseri said in an interview last month with NPR’s Audie Cornish.
‘The controls that we had before were insufficient.’ That’s why this week Instagram announced a new anti-bullying feature called Restrict.
Teenagers told Mosseri and other Instagram researchers that they often didn’t block bullies on the platform for two reasons. First, blocking a bully — something that the bully is aware of — can actually escalate the situation and result in more abuse on the platform or elsewhere.
Here’s the other reason: When you block a bully, you render yourself invisible, but at the same time you give up your ability to see what the bully is doing. To counter abuse, you often have to know what is happening.
Instagram says Restrict addresses these concerns by taking a more nuanced approach. If someone is bullying you on the platform — posting mean comments on your photos or sending you offensive messages — the new feature allows you to restrict the person’s actions.
Once you’ve restricted a user, comments on your posts from that person require your approval. You can see the comment and so can the bully, but unless you choose to release it, no one else can.
Messages from the restricted user will be sent to a separate inbox, and you can choose whether or not you want to read them. If you do, the bully won’t receive a read receipt…A lot of bullying happens on Instagram, and Mosseri, who started as head of the platform a little over a year ago, said he is committed to changing that.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge: Brainstorming
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about the topic. Next, have students look at the pictures in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Regroup as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use a brainstorming chart for assistance.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- A lot of bullying happens on Instagram.
- Teenagers are often reluctant to report or block their bullies.
- The controls that we had before were insufficient.
- Blocking a bully can actually escalate the situation.
- To counter abuse, you often have to know what is happening.
- When you block a bully, you render yourself invisible.
- Teenagers never block their peers.
- Instagram says Restrict addresses these concerns by taking a more nuanced approach.
- Once you’ve restricted a user, comments from that person require your approval.
- What we aspire to do is to lead the fight against online bullying.
Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition
Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented within the sentences.
Instagram has/have been criticized as provide/providing a unique set of/on tools this/that enable bullying. It’s easy to set/sit up anonymous profiles that can than/then be used to troll others. The scale of the platform allows hurtful comments/comment or harassing post/posts to go viral. And while parents and teachers/teach may be able to observe and stop/stopped bullying that happens face-to-face, online bullying are/is often hidden.
Reading Comprehension Fill-ins
Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following sentences taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.
“What we___to do — and this will take years, I want to be clear — is to___ the fight against ___bullying,” Mosseri said at Facebook’s ___F8 developers ___last April.
In an ___with NPR’s Cornish, Mosseri discussed being ___as a child.
WORD LIST: annual, lead, conference, bullied, interview, aspire, online,
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
- Have you or someone you know experienced online bullying? If so, describe the experience and how it ended.
- In the article what are the two reasons teenagers give for not blocking bullies online?
- What is it that Adam Mosseri wishes to do about online bullying?
- According to the teens interviewed who are the bullies online?
- What is the name of Instagram’s new anti-bullying feature?
- In your own words explain how this feature will address issues of bullying.
- With group members list additional ways bullying can be stopped.
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.