- Tips and expert advice
How to deal with online trolls
What are trolls?
Trolls are bullies who post horrible messages to people online, particularly on social media. You may mostly see trolls targeting famous people online, but trolls are indiscriminate – they like to annoy anyone with their offensive and personal comments. Trolls can be so persistent that their hurtful comments can really get people down and cause harm, so it’s important to be able to spot and contain them before they do more damage.
Why do they do it?
Trolls like to provoke a reaction in other people and stir up bad feelings, possibly because they’re angry or they just enjoy trying to start arguments. A mean message will often attract more attention than a nice one, and trolls like everyone to hear them. They don’t want to be seen, though. They hide behind fake names so that people can’t find out who they are, and think being anonymous means they’ll get away with being abusive online.
How do I deal with trolls?
1) Block and report them. One of the first things to do when faced with a troll is block and report them. All social media platforms have a blocking function which means the troll won’t be able to interact with any more of your posts. Reporting the troll should lead to them being removed from the platform.
2) Remember it’s not you, it’s them. Trolls have too much time on their hands. They like to take their chances, pinging off lots of messages to see who reacts. If you’re being targeted by a troll, the chances are they are harassing many other people as well for no reason. So don’t take anything they say to heart.
3) Ignore them. Ignoring trolls can be difficult, especially if you’ve got more than one hanging around you or one of your friends. Their comments might make you angry, but don’t be tempted to engage in a conversation with them. A troll is not interested in a serious debate, they just want to wind people up. It’s not always easy, but if you starve them of attention then they’ll lose interest and go away.
4) Take a step back. When faced with any situation online that is upsetting or overwhelming, it’s best to close the app or webpage, turn off your device and go and do something else (going outside or doing a hobby or sport can really help you feel better). Once you’ve had a bit of time and space away you can come back to your social media refreshed, more resilient and ready to scroll on past any nonsense comments.
5) Talk about it. They say a problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t suffer trolls and bullies in silence – tell a friend, parent, or adult at school about how it’s making you feel, so they can support you in putting a stop to the trolling. Charities specializing in young people’s mental health will also have support available for any issues you’re facing, whether it’s online or offline. See Usborne Quicklinks for information about these helpful websites.
For more advice and tips on managing social media, check out Social Media Survival Guide below.
You can find out more about how to stay safe online via our online safety section here.