How to deal with cyber bullies

How to deal with cyber bullies

Why are people so mean on the Internet?  We’ve all seen the comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other online forum, from insults about political views to condescending comments about a celebrity.

It seems the goal of these provoking comments is to make people mad on purpose. After all, would the person who tweeted the nasty line about the Chicago Bears quarterback, really say that to his face if they were sitting next to each other on a plane?

Probably not, so what makes it ok to say it online?

A new term in the social media realm, “trolling,” is being used to describe someone who deliberately starts arguments or makes rude comments on public forums for the satisfaction of making people angry.

The rise of social media platforms is only increasing the amount of trolling and cyber bullying, as it provides new outlets to provoke arguments. The access to social media continues to increase as mobile and wireless Internet options become standard.

According to DoSomething.org, a not-for-profit movement dedicated for young people and social change, 81 percent of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person, while 70 percent of students report seeing frequent bullying online.

Experts say one reason for trolling could be the sense of security and anonymity that the Internet offers.

“This rude and anti-social behavior can be equated to real-life bullies. However, these bullies are often anonymous and uninhibited by consequences,” says Dr. Bobbi Viegas Miller, a clinical psychologist at Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

Many online forums allow you to post anonymously or with a fake name. The fact that these “trolls” never see their targets face-to-face only makes them more comfortable to make negative comments.

The lack of consequences encourages a troll to be mean, she says. This safe place makes trolls feel like they won’t face any consequences because they will never see these people they insult face-to-face.

“Unfortunately, even though the instigators may be anonymous, it does not mean their attacks aren’t hurtful,” Dr. Viegas Miller says.

So how should we respond?
Dr.  Viegas Miller provides the following suggestions to deal with these online trolls:

  • Take the higher road. As we were taught when we were little kids, walk away. If you see a frusterating or angering comment, do not respond. And don’t respond in a way you may regret later.
  • Report the troll. Many online platforms offer options to report a person for their harassing or inappropriate behavior. Take advantage of this if you feel that this troll has crossed the line.
  • If someone makes an actual threat, file a police report. Many states are creating laws on cyber-bullying behavior. When someone threatens you or your family, don’t take any chances. Cyber bullying is not just for teenagers, it can affect anyone.

Dr. Viegas Miller warns that there will always be rude comments made online and in real life.  She recommends parents should talk to their children about what is appropriate to post online and to monitor their online accounts to avoid any trolling or bullying.

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About the Author

Liz Donofrio
Liz Donofrio

Liz Donofrio, health enews contributor, is a marketing specialist at Advocate Health Care. As a newlywed, she is happy to be done planning her wedding and enjoying spending time with her husband and new extended family. In her free time, you can find Liz cooking new tasty recipes for her family, attending Chicago sporting events and chasing after her shih tzu-yorkie, Buttons.