How to negate the influence of trolls In our kids



In my previous article, we discussed the emerging digital landscape where trolls can cast a cloud of negativity, if we’ll allow them to.

While adults can be mature enough to handle trolls, young people who are hyper in their online activities may become a  cyber bully because of the example set by a troll.

Consider the following incidents:



A mother apologizes for the online behavior of her daughter
A mother apologizes for the online behavior of her daughter. Screen grab from Pep.Ph




As suggested by her school, a 16 year old student apologized to Leni Robredo for her tweet. Screen grab from
As suggested by her school, a 16 year old student apologized to Leni Robredo for her tweet.
Screen grab from



While the level of participation of our young people are commendable, we also saw the need for proper guidance on how to engage proactively and positively on social web.

Young people spends more time online. And this,  without regard to the possible repercussion of their words and actions when they selfie and share,  or has chosen to express their opinion, without reservation, on issues affecting them.

This is probably the reason why the Supreme Court in a ruling (Vivares, et al. vs. St. Theresa’s College, et al. GR No. 202666 29 Sept 2014),  laid down the responsibility of raising responsible digital citizens to both the school and the parents

Self-regulation on the Internet is the best means of avoiding privacy violations, but  schools and parents should participate in disciplining and educating children to be good digital citizens

Though the context of the case is a different matter, the responsibility given to both parents and school applies in our discussion.





With this in mind, either as parent or guardian, how can we add value in guiding kids to be responsible digital citizens?



There are many ways we can help, but allow me to just share at least two.


Connect the dots


In my cyber wellness engagement w/ kids, parent organizations and schools for the last 6 years in my advocacy , I observed that one of the reasons why kids engage on a risky online behavior is the thought that social web is a  space where rules don’t apply.

Several factors contribute to this notion:

  1. Because early-on, small kids use a gadget to play- where  a game is not real.  Learn about fruits and veggies thru images or videos, w/c are also not real. So when a small kid use the same gadget to interact w/ people, they may developed a notion that it’s less real.
  2. Though real world values and rules exists, its application to online activities are not explained to small kids.
  3. Older kids were exposed to PHs  liberal interpretation of free speech online, where censorship don’t apply.
  4. Older kids discovered that they can be anonymous, and they can hide their identity to escape accountability.
  5. Older kids became aware that social norms dictate what is acceptable or not, therefore, the rules differ from one community to the other, and  penalty for bad behavior is far fetched.
  6. Older kids believed that the fun associated to risky behaviors far outweighs the risk of penalty or getting caught.


I believe that as soon as a kid learned to play with a gadget, parents should provide timely intervention to connect the dots.

In academic setting, values formation program should include examples of how values affect not only a person’s online behavior, but also the atmosphere of the community they share. For small kids, pedagogy will work. But as the kid grows older, an approach where they are involve in self discovery and exploration to connect the dots is a better alternative.

Kids need to understand the social web is but an extension of their real life, and therefore, the same decorum applies online.

Reinforce the Value of Respect


Respect is one of the Filipino values, and this, should serve as the core value of responsible and positive online behavior.

  • Since social web is a shared space, respect for the netizens can lead to a pleasant  online experience
  • Respect for another person’s rights will define the parameters when we exercise our own rights.
  • Respect for another person’s opinion and choices will result to peaceful co-existence despite the differences
  • Respect for human dignity will cause us to choose words that will not demean the self worth of another human being
  • Respect for a person’s  privacy will cause us not to collect and share a private information, images or videos of another person, without their consent .

As a parent, it’s our responsibility to inculcate this core value in our household.  The school, likewise,  can reinforce this thru non academic but value formation interventions.

Smaller kids are easier to teach. But the grown-ups need activities that will help them realize the importance of respect in human relations.

If it happens that we are managing young people thru a class or organization, or we are an online community manager, we can apply the principles of social norming to focus on respect as a healthy attitude. Social norming has been used as an intervention to reduce incidents of cyber/bullying.

I believe if kids are given ample intervention to make them think before doing anything online, they can make right choices and negate the negative effects of trolls in their behavior.


In your opinion, what else can we do, to raise our kids to be responsible digital citizens?


This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)