Online Trolling and the effects on Young People
“Males aged 19 are the teens most likely to be affected by trolling or online bullying”
Now if you are someone over the age of 35 reading this blog, you are forgiven, just this once, for thinking a troll is some sort of mythical, cave-dwelling under the bridge sort of individual. Let me explain..when it comes to internet trolling, this is just not the case. Although there may indeed be some mythical folk online, trolling is an activity which is increasing rapidly in us normal humans. And it’s just not cool. In fact online trolling has serious effects on young people, and here’s the thing – recent research reports that 1 in 3 young people aged 14-18 received offensive online comments – and 1 in 10 have carried it (trolling) out.
The survey also found that 1 in 3 young people were the subject of trolling in the last six months – and 1 in 4 are affected by it regularly.
Now for me what’s most alarming is, that so many individuals are getting enjoyment out of causing pain and hurt to others in this way. Alarmingly, also is that out of the 2,000 teenagers involved, it was found that the majority of offensive online comments by ‘trolls’ are in respect to the victim’s appearance (40%) or about their religion or race (16%) with Facebook being the most common platform for victims to be trolled. And this behaviour is escalating! Come on facebookers, there’s just no need.
Now many people who use Social Networks such as Facebook & Twitter might be sick of hearing messages from me (if you hav’nt seen such messages, stop everything and follow me right nowJ. You are feeling sleepy….) in relation to lifestyle skills, tips and awareness on how to use social media platforms responsibly and to your advantage. Encouraging young people not to troll and making them aware of the consequences of trolling is so important.
Many of those who carry out trolling do so because they think it’s funny. It’s not. It’s thoughtless, cruel, harmful and can lead to some serious consequences such as depression, self-harm, or even force those who have experienced trolling to contemplate or attempt suicide leaving families and friends to live with the aftermath.
Now with cases of Internet trolling on the rise it’s important that young people know how to deal with an online troll, so I’ve come up with 3 Steps which you’re welcome to, to help keep you safer online. Now my first one is a really important one. I want you to remember it and spread the word. It could help dramatically reduce some of the negative experiences your friends, family and any young people you tell, encounter online..
- NEVER, EVER, forward on a video, comment or message attacking someone else. Don’t be tempted, no matter how ‘funny’ or ‘interesting’ you think it might be..for those of you out there with ‘quirky’ senses of humour and interests) Just to be clear, I use ‘attacking’ in both physical, verbal and hell basically any other/all contexts. Just to be clear. If you remember this, you’re halfway there already. Give yourself a Gold Star.
- If you are trolled, Block the User. This should always be your first step. If someone is sending you messages which you feel are hurtful, unkind or inappropriate then your best course of action is to block that user. On my twitter account for example, if I find a user who has followed me and I feel their messages are hurtful towards either myself or other users then I decide to not follow them back or block them.
- Get familiar with how to Screen Print Stuff and make a folder to keep a record of inappropriate or hurtful messages. Keep details of the sender if possible.
Also never ‘Feed the Trolls’ which brings bystanding behaviour to a new level. This means winding someone up until they post trolling comments. It’s just not tennis.
Trolling is dangerous game, you have no clue who is going to join in. And that’s when it can get outta hand. You could create a monster. Be responsible. It’s not big and it’s not clever.