Shall we talk about…politeness online ? A Ms. Broccoli conversation

It’s time for a new Ms. Broccoli conversation with your children! Today, the theme of the conversation is politeness online.
Why are people (not just children!) often rude online? How should one react to this verbal violence? There are so many questions that we suggest you discuss for 30 minutes with your children. Enjoy!

Contents of the article :

  1. A discussion guide with your children
  2. The golden rules for discussion success
  3. The messages to convey (your objectives)
  4. Godwin’s law on why online conversations often spin out of control
  5. Ms. Broccoli’s selected reading for further subject discussion

And above all don’t forget : enjoy this pleasant moment of discussion with your children! 🙂

1- Politeness online: a short discussion guide

Remember, this discussion guide is simply…a guide! The goal is not to ask each question or follow a pre-established order! These questions are just a departure point, a pretext to allow you to bring up an important subject, which your child cannot always talk about easily. If you feel that one point in particular deserves more in-depth discussion, take the time to do it.

Introductory questions

(these questions, generic and not pertaining to the subject, are just there to help you begin a conversation! If you are “warmed up”, you may skip this step !…)

  • What is the best thing that happened to you this week?
  • What cool things happened at school this week ?
  • What do you like most about school?
  • What’s your favorite memory of vacation
  • What would you like to know how to do the most that you don’t know yet
  • If you could write a book, what would it be about?

Questions to approach the subject…

  • What are your favorite websites/apps?
  • What interesting things do you find on these websites/apps ?
  • Can the users talk to each other? How does that work?
  • Do you participate in conversations on these websites/apps? (Please note that topics concerning bullying, protecting your child’s personal information, identity theft…are addressed in other Ms. Broccoli conversations.)
  • What subjects do you bring up?

Questions on politeness online

  • What do you think about what’s being said in these conversations?
  • Is everyone respectful toward one another ? Why? What do you think about it?
  • Have you ever received messages or comments that were violent or insulting ?
    If yes: Under what circumstances? What do you think about it? How did you react?
  • Do you ever send messages or publish violent or insulting comments?
    If yes : Under what circumstances? What do you think about it? What happened afterwards ? How did the other person react?
  • Why, in your opinion, do people use foul or violent words in their messages ? What effect does it have?
  • Do you think it can be harmful to receive these kinds of messages? Why?
  • What do you think is the effect of using foul or violent words in a message ?
  • What do you think should be done so that there are no more violent or harmful messages ?

Knowledge of good behavior

  • How can you report an unpleasant message on websites/apps that you use? Does it work?
  • What happens to the person whose messages were reported? What do you think about it ?
  • If you received a truly upsetting message (for you or one of your friends), what would you do?

2- The golden rules for discussion success

You will find in this article the 9 golden rules for Ms. Broccoli conversation success with your children.

The most important thing is that you listen actively to your children, without judging them, and that you and your children enjoy this exchange.

3- The messages to convey

Online violence is unfortunately a constant in humanity (see the paragraph on Godwin’s law). Your child will be confronted with it one day or another, and probably several times a day when he uses open sites like Facebook or Snapchat.

The important thing is for your child to know how to react correctly. Here are the messages that you are trying to convey through your conversation with your children:

1. Violence is violence

Responding to a hurtful or insulting message doesn’t resolve anything, but conversely poisons the discussion and the relationship with the other person/people involved.
To respond means to accept and become complicit in a game where there is no winner, only people who get hurt.
One should not respond, but rather report unacceptable messages.

Violence, in any form, is unacceptable

All the websites and apps that allow conversations between users are moderated, which means there are people (whom we call moderators) who read these messages that are reported to them and then delete them (we often say that they censor these messages). Moderators can also block temporarily or permanently users who don’t respect the site’s rules.

If you see a shocking message or content of any kind that is harmful or violent, you must report it to the site or app moderator. Don’t hesitate to talk about it with me as well or with your teacher at school.

At eduPad, we say NO to bullying!

It’s important to talk about it

People who are insulting or violent online are harmful, and they think we can’t do anything against them. It’s not true.
The law forbids all insulting or violent behavior. If the website or app does not delete the unacceptable content or is lenient with users who have bad intentions, the company can be shut down, and the people in charge may receive a fine or go to prison.
If you see a message which shocks you, don’t hesitate to talk about it with me or with your teacher at school, as we will help you find the appropriate solution.

4- The fundamentals : Godwin’s law, or why online conversations often spin out of control

Godwin’s law is an empirical law that stems from a statement made in 1990 by Mike Godwin relating to online discussions :

« The longer an online discussion endures, the greater the probability of finding a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler gets closer to 1. »

This law says much about human nature: the general tendency of all online discussion, no matter what the subject…is to spin out of control, with an exchange of insults!

See the complete article on Wikipedia.

Fortunately, there are solutions for this :

  • educating children from the youngest age possible on avoiding the game of verbal violence
  • automatic moderation systems, based on blacklists of words and expressions
  • auto-moderation systems like R-U-Sure? in Monster Messenger, which encourage a child to report inappropriate conversations and to not use foul language or violent expressions

5- Ms. Broccoli’s selected reading for further subject discussion


And to conclude…


30 minutes of (real) conversation with your children every week can make a considerable difference. You can’t find these 30 minutes? What if you start with 15 minutes, or even 10 minutes just to try? No television, no radio, no telephone or interruption allowed during this precious time. You will be amazed by all that you are going to discover about your children and by the positive impact of these little conversations on your relationship with your children…with the condition that you truly listen to them!

Do you have a conversation idea to suggest to Ms. Broccoli ? A comment about or an addition to this article? A personal experience that you would like to share? Contact Ms. Broccoli at

Regarding Ms. Broccoli’s discussions