Don’t Feed the Trolls

Image by R Nial Bradshaw on Flickr

There's lots you can do make your online experiences enjoyable AND safe.

It’s exciting to be online with friends and family, but also a bit scary. People can and do say things online they never would say to you in person. When they’re rude over and over, they’re called trolls. The number one rule online is, “Don’t feed the trolls.” Don’t give them any reason to continue to bother you.

But what should you do if you find a troll online? What can you do?

First, control your privacy settings anywhere you are online. Don’t give out your last name, for example, and only connect with family and good friends. Unfriend people who are mean to you. Common sense actions to protect your privacy and limit who can contact you is a key step to avoid trolls.

Second, learn how to take screenshots. On a Mac, for example, press the Command, Control, Shift and F4 buttons at the same time to trigger screenshot mode, then drag the little cross hair icon across the screen, then unclick the mouse to snap the image. Paste them into an email and mail to yourself and a parent or trusted adult like a teacher.

Saying mean things online is bullying, same as in the real world at school, home, or with friends. It’s not acceptable. So the same rules apply: be respectful at all times but if a troll shows up document what happened, get help, and limit your contact with the troll.

Probably the most important advice? Don’t blame yourself. It’s hard to figure out who you are, what you like and don’t like, and lots of other things. What a troll does is wrong. It’s not about you or who you are. It’s their behaviors. It’s also true parents and teachers want to help if a troll should wander into your life online. You’re not alone so ask for help.

Learn More

How Should My Kid Respond to Haters and Trolls Online?

What is the best way to stop internet trolls?

Cyberbullying Guidance and Practical PSHE Toolkit

Help Your Child be a Good Online Friend

How Trolls are Ruining the Internet

What is Trolling and How Does it Affect My Kids?


  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

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