Teen Angst

Helping adolescents deal with anger and other emotions effectively

Beware of the Trolls

What every teen and parent needs to know about internet trolling.

Trolls…real or fiction? I guess it all depends on which world you spend the most time in. If you spend hours upon hours on the internet, then you may run into one of them lurking in the corner waiting to pounce on your words with methodical calculation.  Their plan is to launch a purposeful attack that argues against your views, criticizes your ideas, or wreaks complete havoc on your post. Meanwhile they sit back taking immense pride in their public display of humiliation; only it's at your expense. What on earth am I talking about? Trolling, of course. 

Trolling is internet slang for  a person who intentionally starts arguments or upset others by posting inflammatory remarks all while being deceptive of his/her identity, and attempting to pass as a legitimate participant. The identity of this person is masked by a troll face; a black and white drawing of a face with a mischievous, Cheshire cat, grin which is symbolic of the expression someone is making while trolling or duping you. Trolls are becoming increasingly popular, especially on social networking sites, and anyone, including teens, can easily be targeted by one. Unfortunately, while it's all fun and games to the troller, it can play with the victims’ emotions leaving him/her feeling targeted, isolated, and rejected. 

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5 top websites, in no particular order, that attract trollers:

  • Youtube
  • Yahoo Answers
  • Blogs/Forums
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

5 things you need to know about internet trollers:

  1. They love it when you take their bait and respond to them. 
  2. You cannot reason with them. They have one goal and one goal only: to irritate the snot out of you.
  3. They don't have manners and they surely don't follow social or cyber etiquette.
  4. They love it when you retaliate. In fact, it feeds and encourages them to intensify their ill-mannered tactics.
  5. They will not let you win or have the last word. 

3 ways to get rid of a troll:

  • Remove their audience
  • Strip them of their power
  • Deprive them of attention

5 things to do if you've been trolled:

• Don't respond. They are seeking to get a knee jerk reaction out of you. No reaction, no satisfaction.
• Report them: If you are a teen tell a trusted adult and report to site providers. 
• Block the troller. Change your social networking settings to prevent the troller from accessing your personal information on your profile. If need be change your user name and passwords.
• Keep a record of the derogatory remarks, just in case you need them as evidence. So save screen shots, posts, etc. that you can use in the event the troller continues and you need to take it to the next step, i.e., legal action.
• Be selective about what you post. Don't post information online that someone can use against you.

 

So, back to the original question: Are trolls real or fiction? Oh, they’re real, all right! From a historical perspective "trolls" refer to giants or demons who were up to mischief and wickedness. Well, it appears that one thing remains constant in history…there are unkind and mischievous individuals who prey upon the vulnerabilities of others. Protect yourself and your teen from falling prey to a troll.

Have you been trolled? Share your story in the comments section below. If you are an internet troller feel free to pipe in, but don't expect a response. 

 

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann, M.S., L.P.C., is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens.

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