How can kids develop compassion in an online world?

Kids may seem to be lacking compassion when they're texting, sharing on social media, or playing multiplayer games against complete strangers (and completely ignoring you).  But for many kids, online relationships are deep, supportive, and, yes, even compassionate. What matters is the quality of their interactions and the environment they're interacting in.

To develop compassion in your kids, start by creating a culture of compassion that extends to the online world. Just as you would want your kids to surround themselves with kind, supportive friends in a positive environment, check in about their online friends and digital hangouts. Steer them away from negative places that encourage gossip or anonymous commentary. Here are more ideas to help develop your kids' compassion in an online world.

Teach them to be upstanders. Encourage them to stand up for victims of cyberbullying, slut-shaming, hate speech, and other cruel campaigns. If your kid doesn't want to publicly challenge a bully, tell them to reach out to the victim privately. That kind of peer support can make a huge difference to someone who's being targeted. And the more you reach out, the more compassion you spread.

Find multiplayer games with a positive community. Not all online games are violent and aggressive.  Games such as Minecraft and Roblox are friendly to "noobs" (new players) and help them feel welcome. And find sites that help kids do good.

Play Freerice. This vocabulary-building game donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme for every correct answer.

Support -- or start -- an online social media positivity movement. Through their social media, kids can spread some goodness by starting a movement with a new hashtag (such as #nicefriends) or joining an existing campaign.

Get involved. Visit Change.org, GoFundMe, and DoSomething to look for opportunities to join a social movement, join a national campaign, or donate to a worthy cause.

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