Parents today know to be diligent about talking to their kids about respectful online behavior … how to act, what to avoid, what to do if victimized. Every parent has likely talked about cyberbullying too. But what about trolling? Is it possible your child is an internet troll?
An internet troll is someone who starts controversy online with the intent of provoking people emotionally. A troll can use hateful messages to stir even a nice story into something horrible. And when others respond to it, it simply feeds the troll.
Just as it is important to check kids’ devices to make sure they are not the victims of questionable messages or posts, it is just as important to make sure kids are not the ones sending those messages or trolling either.
Trolling is different than cyberbullying. Trolling is meant to make people mad, but without a real threat like cyberbullying. Trolls want attention. Bullies typically want power. But trolling can quickly turn into cyberbullying when it becomes threatening. Either one should not be tolerated. At all.
So what do you do if you find out your kid is a troll?
Kids don’t always make the best choices so it’s easy for them to perceive trolling as a joke or a prank. Trolling is done anonymously so kids tend to see no danger in doing it. If you suspect your child has been trolling on the internet, it’s critical to enforce consequences quickly. The best bet? Take away their devices. It’s any kids’ worst form of punishment. Then it’s time to talk about it and explain how there is actual danger in trolling. When kids realize how quickly trolling can turn into cyberbullying and worse, they may think twice before stirring something up online.