Teaching children to deal with trolls…

Internet is truly amazing. From answering all your queries within seconds (thanks to Google) to providing social media platforms for virtual interaction, Internet has become the quintessential part of our lives. 

But a coin has two sides and so does the internet technology. Undoubtedly, internet is a boon to mankind but there is a dark side to it with gradual rise in cases of online fraud, cyber crime and trolling.

Today, I want to focus on trolling and the negative impact of trolls on the psyche of students. For those who aren’t aware of trolling, it is a form of cyber bullying where a person or a group of people are ridiculed and mocked through textual and audio visual aids. While trolls are created to induce a chuckle or too, it can hurt the sentiments of those who are targeted. Social media is filled with trolls who don’t leave an opportunity to take a dig at personalities or popular events. Some trolls are directed just to irritate or create an angry reaction. Not just popular figures, but even our children are facing cyber bullying in social circles thanks to these so called funny memes or trolls. Considering the amount of time students spend online, it makes them prone to such trolls. Cyber bullying can have an adverse effect on a child’s growth and personality, inducing a sense of embarrassment and dejection.

While many discuss the need of drawing a line as what is considered to be funny and what is plain hurtful, I believe it is impossible to control these memes and trolls as it would come in the way of free speech. But as parents and educators, we can guide our kids to deal with trolling/cyber bullying through following ways:

  1. Ignore: One of the most effective ways to shut up a troll is by ignoring them. Teach your kids to be indifferent about offensive and hurtful trolls. Ignoring trolls takes away their power as they strive on your angry reactions and emotions.
  2. Use humor as weapon : If ignoring is not your cup of tea, then try puncturing the troll attack by a humorous counter. Most kids might struggle to let go the feeling of hurt, so it is important to teach them how to channel this negative energy into something funny that would knock out the troll. But educators and parents must ensure that kids don’t engage in offensive humor in an attempt to give the troll a taste of his/her own medicine.
  3. React with solid facts : If ignoring is hard and humor is not your forte, then teach your kid to build a logical defense by laying down solid facts and proof that support your stand. This would most likely deter the troll and he/she might end up hurling non nonsensical comments which lack the edge cos of absence of so called humor.
  4. Disengage from propagating offensive trolls: It is important to stop to your kids from propagating hurtful trolls as it would only fuel the impact of the trolls. Whenever your kid comes across a funny but offensive troll, teach them to put themselves in the shoes of those who are being targeted. If it is hurtful to their sentiments, then it is not worthy of your support.
  5. Create anti-cyber bullying squad:  Encourage your kids to form an online anti bullying squad. Once an offensive troll is identified, let the group be aware of it and make sure it is properly reported to the authorities.

   

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