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Empathy

The power to feel and connect with others

Being aware of our own emotions helps us to connect with and support others. Putting ourselves in their shoes can help us understand.

Audio

This video is a dramatic scenario used to provoke thought about having empathy for other people online. It features two teenage males. The males are played by actors. A young male, Tom, sits at a table eating breakfast while listening to music, and television news is playing in the background.

Tom puts on his headphones

Tom smiles as he looks down at his tablet showing the album cover "Conspiracy of sound"

Tom glances up at the TV and pulls of his headphone

A boy stands in the rubble of a crumbling building. Text appears “LIVE! BREAKING NEWS. Thousands buried in landslide.”

A close up of the boy on TV shows him covered in dust, looking lost, concerned and confused

He’s wearing a shirt with the album cover “Conspiracy of Sound”

Tom looksat the TV concerned

A close up of the TV again shows the boy wearing the shirt “Conspiracy of Sound”

Tom looks down at his tablet also showing the album “Conspiracy of Sound”

A close up of Tom’s eyes shows his empathy for the boy on the TVA close up of the boy on the TV’s eyes shows his sadness and confusion

Tom searches on his tablet to find the news story of the boy wearing the shirt . He clicks to share it through social media

He adds a caption to the post “Check out the shirt” and shares the story

Robert W. comments “Whoa. COS fan doin it rough”

Tom replies, “Spread the word? Maybe we can help.

Steven M. comments “hellzyeah”

Screen shows Tom, relieved and content. Text appears on screen “I feel for others”.

Logo shows the Australian coat of arms abovethe words Australian Government, and the Commissioner with the web address esafety.gov.au

The power to feel and connect with others

Putting ourselves in others’ shoes can help us understand them and help them.

'It may not affect you, but it might upset others.' (Amanda, 16)

  • Would I like that to be posted about me?
  • How would I feel?
  • What would I do?
  • What would I think?
  • What might they be feeling?
  • What do they need?

U can … make an effort to understand others.

Appreciate that other people have different stories that shape who they are and how they see the world. What can be seen as a joke for one person can be really upsetting for someone else. Think about how the other person might feel and how things might affect them. Listen to others and make an effort to understand them to avoid making incorrect assumptions.

U can … respect other people’s reputation online.

Consider the impact on a person’s reputation and their future when you post things about them online. Respect their wishes about what they want you to do with their content.

U can … remember that people online have feelings too.

Remember that the online world is full of real people with real feelings, problems, and worries. There is a lot more to each person than what they choose to share online.

U can … try to understand what it might feel like to not belong.

Self-esteem issues, stress, loneliness, being taken advantage of and lashing out can all be a result of someone feeling hurt or excluded. You can help them by listening to their feelings and offering support or information about how to take action.

U can … look out for your friends.

Are they being themselves? Have they had a sudden change in their behaviour and attitude? Are they isolating themselves? Ask them if they are OK and how you can help them. Show them that you have listened to their worries and that you feel for what they are going through.

U can … offer support.

Be a shoulder to lean on when someone is struggling and needs some support. Let them know that talking about problems can help and that they are not alone. Remind them that it’s normal to go through ups and downs, and that it’s important to stay positive and see all of the good things about themselves.

U can … appreciate the connections.

Think about what you have in common with other people and look for ways you can share enjoyable and fun things to talk about or get involved in.

U can … allow others to do things their way.

You can only control your own behaviours and how you respond to things. Focus on supporting others and understanding them — not controlling them and what they do about a situation.

U can … take an active role in your community and world.

Be a voice for the rights of yourself and others. Acts of kindness, fundraising, or taking part in positive public campaigns — online or offline — are a great way to make a meaningful contribution to the world around you and help to set a positive example for others.

Some expert advice

  • If you think you might have done something to harm someone’s reputation online, apologise and take it down. You can say ‘I’m sorry—how can I make things better?’ ‘I’m sorry about that … what can I do to fix it?’
  • If someone is upset or hurt, you can help them to open up and talk about it by asking open questions and actively listening without judging them. E.g. ‘Can you tell me what happened?’ ‘What was that like for you?’
  • If someone is really upset and you’re worried about them, encourage them to speak with a trusted parent or adult, or talk to a professional from Kids Helpline.
  • There are some great ways you can get involved in youth rights and advocacy: here are just a few: Australian Human Rights Commission, Centre for Multicultural Youth, Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network, Harmony Week.

Resources for teachers

This page is part of the Young and eSafe classroom resource.

For lesson plans and other information go to Young and eSafe: about this resource