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Trolling online is becoming a colossal problem. You can hardly open any social media feeds, news websites, or even discussion forums without seeing them stirring the pot. Wikipedia defines internet trolls as “people who start flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, either for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain”. Here is how to start OPERATION: Troll Patrol and shut it down.
Don’t Participate In Heated Discussions
Do not dare take part in giving trolls what they want. Think of them as toddlers playing the “no” game. They are pushing your buttons, probably to the point of boiling over. Much like your toddler, they are waiting, watching, poking the bear, hoping to get a rise out of you. If you let them, they win. The best way to handle attention seekers is to take away their power and their drive. Once they realize they are not getting what they want they will often move on.
Report Trolling Online Activity
So why create more work for yourself in an already busy lifestyle? The answer is simple: Our children. Children all over the world are using the internet for more than entertainment. They are researching school projects, completing discussion boards, and playing interactive quiz games. Now more than ever they are taking to the internet to stay connected with their peers and family members. Prior to COVID, it could have been so easy to restrict their screen time and access to webcams. However, these technological advances have provided opportunities for our children to maintain some normalcy and relationships while socially distancing. If times had not changed before, they have now.
With our children relying on the internet so much for their education, socialization, and entertainment needs, a parent can only help but remain cautious. Peeking over their shoulders, keeping a listening ear out, checking usage reports, and programming limits have now become a way of life. The thought of inappropriate content, online predators, and people trolling online are enough to keep anyone up at night. The best way to take care of a problem is to become part of the solution. The majority, if not all, social media sites have a Code of Conduct that participants should abide by. Take time to learn about how to be a good digital citizen and how to report those who are not.
READ MORE: 5 Tips To Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Block/Defriend Those Guilty Of Trolling Online
You innocently open your social media website to see what is going on in the world, what family and friends are up to, who is having a baby, or what hilarious memes are on your newsfeed. But there they are. The negative Nancies and Debbie downers of the world. We all know one (or many). They are taking up space on our newsfeeds and stealing joy from our days. There is no better way to take back your online joy than to say “peace out”, “kick bricks”, and “hit the road” to those trolling online. Hit that “Defriend” or “Block” button and rest well knowing that you took control of your happiness.
Contact Website Owners
We have all read comments on newsfeeds and discussion forums that we feel are inappropriate, incorrect, or downright hateful. You may have reported the offensive activity to the social media platform with no success of having the situation remedied. Don’t get discouraged.
Hot spots for those trolling online are posts that companies, news stations, or organizations have posted on social media. If you already attempted to have the comment or post taken down by the social media platform and failed, go to the source itself. Contact the company, news station, or organization to make them aware of the activity on their post. They have the ability to control the comments and/or remove the post altogether to minimize the activity of those trolling online.
Encourage Others To Take A Stand Against Trolling Online
It’s true: there is power in numbers. To make our online environment a safe and healthy one, each and every person must conduct themselves in a respectable manner and hold others accountable as well. Now that you know what to do about people that are trolling online, be sure to share the information with family and friends. Empower others by letting them know there is something they can do about online trolls and encourage them to take a stand!
Make Kindness A Movement
Parents can tell you that to raise good humans and to set kindness into motion, you first have to live the words you speak. Children are capable of amazing things and they are sponges, absorbing all that they are exposed to. Opening doors, complimenting strangers, encouraging others, and other acts of kindness and respect (online or otherwise) will engrain similar behaviors into your children. These actions will become the norm in their lives and encourage them to have the same expectations of others. After all, you don’t want any of their future love interests honking from the driveway, right?
It goes back to what mama always said, “treat others the way you want to be treated” and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Now, let’s put a little spin on it: Don’t take no sh*t. Stand up for yourself, your kids, and everybody by doing what needs to be done to stop people from trolling online.
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