Understanding Trolling

understanding trolling“Don’t feed the trolls”. We often hear this statement bandied around with reference to insidious online power plays that usually involve aggressive, repeated taunts by one or more parties to another.  It’s a valid statement, in so much as we know that bullying behaviours usually require the repeated input on the receiving end to keep the fire ignited. But according to Jeremy Blackman, cyber safety specialist with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation,  the idea of not feeding the trolls, may not be so clear cut.

Trolling by definition is different to bullying.  In general terms, trolling is usually by an anonymous user or someone unknown , whilst cyberbullying is mostly toward someone known to them, with similar characteristics to offline or real life bullying.

So what are the reasons people troll?

In his presentation at the Alannah and Madeline Foundation NCAB14 conference next week,  Jeremy will look at the power imbalances faced by people, whereby trolling becomes a way to shift that balance in their favour.

In terms of celebrity trolling, we see the mob mentality, spurred on by an original instigator but collectively, the masses blend to make up one trolling entity to shift that power imbalance, previously monopolised by the celebrity status.

Then there are those that are ostracised from the norms. Trying to push their beliefs that may be alienating or on the edges of society. With civil society not working for them, they turn to this global forum, where they can express their beliefs in whatever fashion they please.

The trolling that mystifies me the most however, involves those that gather at RIP sites and memorial pages of people passed, to unleash their vitriol. Once again it must be that something is not working for them, somewhere they are missing out on something that they feel the attention and adoration people display on these sites somehow opens them up to be attacked and abused.

When it comes to our kids and what they will face in their online interactions, we need to have some understanding of how trolls work  in order to give them the skills to deal with these behaviours.

So, absolutely, we don’t need to be feeding the trolls, we don’t need to be engaging in arguments whereby no one comes out a winner.

For some people, their resilience is high, their ability to ignore, block and delete is sufficient to negate any real damage. For others however, some of whom are basing their self worth on the likes, followers and interactions from social networking sites, then the consequences can be far more devastating. Many may not even be feeding the trolls. They may not be engaging in arguments and back and forth banter, but may still be devastated by the experience.

As Jeremy pointed out to me, we would like to think that people would just ‘be nice’. But unfortunately, if we are to have any hope of helping people deal with these behaviours, we have to be realistic in knowing that statements such as these offer as much wishful thinking as asking for world peace and an end to hunger.

I look forward to hearing Jeremy delve a little deeper into the world of trolling. It is a discussion that needs attention  if we are to continue to help our kids, and ourselves,  avoid the dramas of online trolling.

There is still time to grab your ticket to the Alannah and Madeline Foundations National Centre Against Bullying conference to be held in Melbourne, August 6th and 7th, 2014.

 

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Vamping: Our Obsession With Technology Extending Well Into The Night

vampingWhat is vamping you ask? Well it could be referring to ‘the repeated use of a phrase throughout an entire song’, or  ’To patch up a shoe or a boot’ or as is becoming more common with so many today, it can refer to ‘staying up all night on devices, playing games, watching videos or hanging out on social media whilst everyone else in the house is fast asleep’.  In the the vein of all things Twilight, True blood and The Vampire Diaries, our nocturnal obsession continues.

Is vamping another unhealthy byproduct of the digital age? Or is it simply a modern day pushing of the boundaries as kids try to find that time, place and space to chill out and connect with others?

When kids are on their devices late at night, obviously there is the risk of not getting enough sleep. Research already shows our kids (and their parents) are not getting the recommended hours of sleep.  And we all now what happens to brain function the following day when we are tired…….not to mention the effects on energy, tolerance and stress levels.

The problem with late night ‘vamping’ with devices is the recent discovery that the blue lights emitted from our devices interferes with the production of melatonin, which is the hormone we release to help us sleep. So those texting well into to the night may have trouble falling asleep once they finally put the device away, or alternatively may have a sore head as they fall asleep face planting the screen.

Aside from the obvious sleep issues, there is also the disturbing element of negative interaction with people late at night. If kids are being bullied for example, then reading comments or engaging in negative talk late at night can not only interfere with sleep, but the experiences are a lot more isolating and fearful when experienced in the middle of the night.

Some say this is just another example of teenagers pushing boundaries. Wanting to have that personal space and private conversations. Whilst we know that nothing online can ever really be deemed private, maybe there is an an element of them getting some of this privacy back, or at least the feeling of privacy, by doing it late at night.  Maybe these kids lives are so cluttered with school, homework and extra curricular activities, that they feel this is the only time for relaxing and socialising with friends uninterrupted.

I have to say I am pretty bad at role modelling this behaviour. Thankfully it’s at a time when my kids are asleep and cant see me up til late and my ‘vamping’ is usually reading and research and very little socialising. But I could always have more sleep so this is something I should probably address.

Like all behaviours, it doesn’t take long for them to become habits. And the longer a habit continues, the harder it is to break. For our kids, I suggest keeping the devices out of the bedroom at night and be sure they have plenty of other ‘downtime’ to connect with their friends, both online and in real life.

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The Printer and I: Making Friends with the Epson PrecisionCore

This is a sponsored post from Nuffnang and Epson, however all views are totally mine.

 Epson Precsioncore printer

What is one of the most frustrating pieces of technology in an office? For me it was always the printer. Pages that were too faint, paper that got stuck, ink that got clogged – clean the nozzles, still nothing. Of course they always went haywire at the crucial moments. Just as you were about to print out your 5000 word university assignment that you had daringly left until 4 pm to make the 5pm deadline. It was probably more of an issue in the days prior to email and cloud-sending. Yes I actually worked in an office before there was email! Working from home makes it tough too. There is no IT person to ring and complain that the printer isn’t working again. There is no help desk, save waiting for up to 24 hours for a reply.

 I have had a good run, however, with my last printer. It is an Epson and I haven’t even sworn at it once. So when Epson asked me if I wanted to try out their new Workforce WF-2620 PrecisionCore printer, I read a little about them and decided it would be a great benefit to the illustrious offices of The Modern Parent Empire! It would also be a great addition to my photography and now my kid’s computer creations and photo edits that they are beginning to enjoy printing out. And thanks to Pinterest, I can now make all my party invites, cake toppers and all manner of party paraphernalia and print out with ease!

 So my printer arrived and, like a kid in a candy store unable to eat any lollies, I had to leave it in the hallway as I left for a week’s holiday. Thankfully however, it gave me the opportunity to take some great pics and print them out on my return.

epson prints

Recently, I looked at the importance of getting your precious photos off the computer and out on display, and if you get yourself a decent printer, there really is no excuse.

I was really impressed with the quality of the prints and mum actually thought I must have had them printed professionally! It costs less to run than a laser printer and is uses less energy so it’s greener too! It is quick to print, the colours were true and it looks mighty impressive on my desk, however you would need a fair bit of space as it isn’t small.  The PrecisionCore printers do come in all sizes and scales, from the humble work from home office printer to the big kahuna press printers. I haven’t yet set up the wireless printing but I just love the idea of printing things from the couch without having to get up! I can also print from the phone, scan things and fax. I am not sure I would ever need to fax, but if I feel the need one day I know it is there!

 

What technology, machinery of gadget frustrates you the most? Or do you have a passion for all things office and stationary?

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Parenting in a Digital World: Same But Much Different

internet magnifies

“The internet mirrors, magnifies and makes more visible, the good, the bad and the ugly of everyday life”

I love this quote from Danah Boyd, author of ‘It’s Complicated: the Social Lives of Networked Teens’ 2014

I apply this analogy of the internet as a mirror that magnifies and reflects to all my understandings of teaching online behaviour. Everything parents had to teach before, they now have to amplify for the online world. Many of the values are the same. We have rules of etiquette, and we now have rules of Netiquette. The foundations and the beliefs are the same, but we have to expand our teaching to cope with the changes to the environment.

The transparent and permanent nature of the online world, warrants this need to do all we have ever done before, but with even more gusto and purpose.

That is not to say we wont get to a point where we have to trust our teaching. Let them out into the big world to explore and gain independence. We allow our kids to walk to the shops, catch public transport or have a sleepover at friends because we are confident they have the skills to handle themselves in those situations. So too, we need to get to a point where we have the confidence in our kids to explore the online world, make connections and interact with others in a safe and responsible manner. There are never any guarantees, but we need to do all we can to give them the best chance of getting it right.

We cant expect them to know all the skills, the critical thinking and the behaviours to be always be safe and responsible if we havnt invested the time and energy teaching, supporting and guiding them.  We need to amp up our lessons in what is and isn’t acceptable.  We need to help them know how to determine whether someone is who they say they are. We need to teach them about giving  an opinion without being aggressive or personally attacking someone. We want to instil in them the confidence to avoid listening to the noise and the drama and the ability to click away when they need to.

The problem for parents today however, is that these were not skills we had to learn as kids. These are not skills our parents had to teach us.  If we don’t keep up with the technology, if we don’t have a really solid understanding of what our kids are doing online, then we will struggle to be that teacher for them.

Sometimes that means letting them have a go, watching what they do and correcting or highlighting behaviours that may get them in to trouble. As I scrolled through my sons Instagram feed last night, I had to show him a few examples of what his ‘friends’ were doing and use this conversation as a teachable moment. We have done this before and will continue to do it. We talk about how people are putting themselves out there, the reputations, the images, the perceptions and the possible implications of this image not representing themselves in the most positive light. He may not take everything on board and he will make the odd mistake, but if I am there monitoring through this ‘learning phase’ I know that I am setting him up to carry forward a digital persona that can be a positive reflection of who he is.

So whilst our values, beliefs and boundaries can carry across the many elements of raising our kids, the addition of the online environment calls for a new and amplified approach to getting our kids through adolescents. Lets continue to seek out knowledge, understand our kids perspective but give them the wisdom of our experience and insight and learn all we can to help give them the independence to be safe, responsible, courteous , respected and respectful digital kids.

 Do you agree that we have to change the way we parent due to the impact of the online world?

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Win a photo book and get those photos on display

display your photos

This post is in collaboration with Photobox, however all opinions are my own…..

What do you do with all those photos you take? Now I can’t find any actual figures for how many photos we now take but I read somewhere that it was something like more photos are now taken in an hour than in all the years leading up to the invention of the smart phone camera (Don’t quote me on that but it is suffice to say we take a whole lot more photos now than ever before!) The problem is however, that we often only share them via digital means. Usually it’s a snap for Instagram or a Facebook update that languishes down the bottom of a feed after a day or so. We no longer print them out to flick through, or eagerly await with anticipation the fruits of our film camera from nigh on a week ago!  We rarely fill photo albums.  The instantaneous nature of photography today probably makes us less inclined to feel the need to keep, print  and display.

We sometimes don’t even back them up.

I learnt some hard lessons years ago about the consequences of not properly backing up photos. I vowed it would never happen again.

As a passionate photographer this is something I am really good at now. But I also love the advantages of cloud storage where I no longer have to rely on devices , USBs, CD’s  and other gadgetry that have all been known to fail at times.

I have taken pretty much a gazillion photos too of my family. But I am also really good at putting them on display. I have lots of framed photos, some printed canvases and now I am gathering up a nice collection of photo books.

photobox collage

I love that our photos can be on display yet it is not like having photo albums to plough through. The experience of a photo book is much more ascetically pleasing and rewarding especially for friends and family who I’m sure don’t need to see  8 different photos of baby eating yoghurt. Unless of course they are nicely designed on the one page!

Every year I do a family album photo book that captures all the highlights from our year. I have also done a book for each child up until their first day of school and any holidays during the year also get a separate book, as I tend to go a little snap happy when I am away. Having just returned from another family holiday, I know that I only managed to entice all the kids to pose for just one more photo because they know the importance of the holiday photo book and they all eagerly anticipate its creation. They also love flicking through the photo books from holidays gone by and I am always amazed at how much the books remind them of little moments I thought they would never remember. I know they wouldn’t sift through mountains of photo files on a computer screen in quite the same way!

I do hate it when I hear the panic in people’s voices when they lose a phone or a computer crashes and all of those precious memories are sitting precarious and vulnerable.

So please get out those pictures and put them on display. Make a photo wall, print a canvas, make some fridge magnets with your phone pics, make a poster collage and frame it or make a photo book of a recent holiday or even of some random everyday pictures that capture your family just as they are.

If you would like to get started with this, then the people of Photobox have kindly offered one lucky reader a free Classic A4 personalised photobook of 26 pages valued at $49.95.

To win, simply tell me in the comments what sort of photo book you would create right now. What gorgeous book could  all those priceless images sitting on your computer become? 

Competition is open to Australia residents only and closes AEST 5pm, 16th July, 2014.

Aussie Giveaway Linky
Hosted by Kellie O’Brien Media

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