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5 ways to keep calm and stay happy online

What is online anger? Why do people get angry online? And how can we help young people avoid getting swept up in their (and other people’s) anger so they can enjoy their time spent online?

By Marjun Ziarati

It's fair to say most of us have witnessed anger become all too easily amplified online. There is always something in the news about a celebrity, politician or other public figure involved in an online feud. One person posts something and before you know it there is an angry exchange of messages back and forth across the net, often with the general public getting involved with their opinions.

So, why do we get angry? There are lots of reasons, but according to mental health charity, Mind, some of the common triggers are situations in which we feel:

Threatened or attacked

Frustrated or powerless

Like we’re being treated unfairly

What is online anger?

Online anger isn’t too dissimilar to the ‘offline’ variety. As the name suggests, it occurs when we express these emotions online, sometimes in the form of cyberbullying, 'trolling' or making nasty and aggressive comments. People often find it easier to express their feelings when they are ‘hiding’ behind their device and not in a face-to-face confrontation. It’s easy to disagree with posts on social media or see something online that you find upsetting or offensive. Sometimes it’s just a case of misunderstanding what another person is saying online and a conversation can quickly turn nasty.

So, what can you tell young people to help them avoid falling into the trap of online anger?

Here are Parent Zone’s five handy tips for young people:

1. Don’t SHOUT!!!

It’s a good idea to avoid using capital letters in comments on posts. It can appear to be aggressive and a bit shouty for readers.

2. *Insert Smiley here

Emotions can be hard to read when you can’t see or hear someone. By simply adding a smiley face or other positive emojis to your posts it can help the reader realise that you’re expressing excitement rather than anger.

3. Think twice before clicking post

Pause before you press send. Read through your post or comment. Would you say that in person? Is it going to offend, upset or anger anyone? Remember you may feel you’re hidden and anonymous behind your screen but people can still report you and if you say anything that breaks the law, people may take action against you.

4. Don’t feed the trolls

Remember that people can ‘troll’ and write nasty comments that you may not agree with under public posts. Try to avoid getting involved in heated discussions with strangers. You’ll only get more worked up trying to make your point and sometimes people are just looking to pick a fight online as they hide behind their screens.

5. Block and report

If anyone makes an aggressive comment on something you post - don’t reply to them. Ignore them by blocking and reporting. And, don't delete the evidence until you have a screen grab of the comment!

 

Further reading:

Support from the NHS on how to deal with anger

How to help your child deal with in-game bullying

Parent Zone's Parent guides - info on blocking and reporting on different apps and sites

 

 Image: Public Domain