According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 37% of youths aged 12-18 experienced cyberbullying in 2019. Additionally, research has also linked cyberbullying to increased chances of experiencing mental, social and health issues. This is why we are featuring this topic as part of our mental health series for the U.S. Mental Health Month,
Unfortunately, online trolling is an issue faced by many in the online community. So, what are the best steps for responding to and preventing online trolls? And how can content owners take action while maintaining a good reputation and positive mental health?
Implementing a response and prevention plan on how to best handle online trolls will not only support your brand’s online voice, but also keep keyboard bullies on their toes. So, in this article, you’ll learn:
“85% of teens are social media users” – Pew Research Center
Cyberbullying can come in many different shapes and forms. As the number of teens using the internet and social media continues to grow, it creates the opportunity for increased instances of online harassment. Educating yourself on online harassment should be your first step in how to react. According to author Aija Mayrock, from The Survival Guide to Bullying, there are five principal forms of cyberbullying. These range from:
The three principles ways to respond to online harassment are: reply, ignore, block
If you are operating a social media page with a large following, it can be overwhelming trying to reply to every last message in a timely manner. In order to maintain transparency and honesty with your following, there is nothing wrong with being selective with who you choose to respond to. The key is how you choose to respond.
If you choose to reply to comments, it’s important not to get defensive, upset or make it personal. It’s difficult not to have a human response to mean comments, but as the saying goes, you can kill more flies with honey. So, it’s crucial that you separate your personal feelings in order to reply professionally. On the Elvis Duran show, Madison Beer spoke about how she dealt with responding to online trolls. She emphasized that it’s your choice to speak up and not ignore them: “I think everyone is allowed to defend his or herself, and remember the bullying and hatred comes from them.”
The second option is to simply ignore the comments. You may especially want to do this if you are receiving only a small portion of negative messages. There is nothing a bully hates more than silence from their victim. So why fight fire with fire?
Blocking or reporting is not a sign of weakness. You are responsible for keeping your social platforms safe. There are some comments and messages that can cross the line from hurtful to cruel very quickly, so do not think twice about blocking a comment that makes you feel uncomfortable.
This is exactly how #BBTVFam’s Annie Rose deals with her online haters. At the 2019 Playlist Live, Annie Rose discussed how she deals with online harassment on a panel. She remains calm, cool and collected when dealing with online trolls through the approach of “deleting, blocking and getting rid of the negativity and moving on with your life.” She emphasizes the importance of giving yourself time to regroup and surrounding yourself with good vibes.
Daily community management goes a long way. If you are responsive and monitoring your platforms regularly, you will have control of the narrative. Replying to comments in a timely manner shows you are diligent and committed to your following. Followers truly respect a creator that takes the time to reply to their online community. They want to be heard, and as a content owner it’s your responsibility to listen.
Being able to admit when you’re at fault is a sign of good character. Creators heavily depend on personal connections with fans, so it’s important to remind your followers that you too are human. If you have done or said something that potentially offended or hurt your audience’s feelings – be the bigger person and admit it.
“One of the worst mistakes you can make if you are experiencing cyberbullying is pretending it does not affect you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 14.5% of students reported that they were bullied electronically.”
So, don’t be afraid to ask your close friends and family for support. If you have a solid following, reach out to your audience for comfort and compassion. You may be surprised with the amount of love and support you can receive when you ask for help.
As a whole, as much as we would like to believe everybody can play nice, anything can happen on social platforms. If you are a content owner it’s important to educate yourself on the very real possibility of experiencing cyberbullying. Have a plan in place and that will help you with deciding the right course of action if the time comes and don’t be afraid to reach out for support when needed. It’s essential to remember that you are not alone.
For the month of May the BBTV blog is focusing on mental health topics, including cyberbullying. So if you found this article helpful, then why not learn tips to avoid creator burnout?