Ask any kid today and they’ll tell you multiplayer gaming is the thing. The bomb, the only place to be, especially during lockdowns and long weekends when they can’t get out. They hook up with friends, embark on group adventures, play against each other and engage with new people they’ve never me before. Most other gamers are fine, but some can’t help but bully others. Some are just trolls who are intentionally provocative or post offensive messages to get responses.

Bullying is nasty. Trolls are nasty. And if the kids are young and vulnerable the impact can be damaging to the extreme. They can ruin a kid’s gaming session and in some cases lead to damaging depression that doesn’t lift. They can make kids nervous about going online, they can make them withdraw and clam up.

So how do you deal with the bullies and trolls? Here is some advice that parent’s and carers can pass onto their charges, to help them beat back the abuse and put the bullies back in their place.

Don’t react

Words are only words and when it comes to gaming bullies they’re words on a screen or passage of vitriol down the headphones. It can take saintly behaviour not to react but by not responding in any way the bully/troll is left holding their ill will and feeling. They want you to react. If you don’t, you’ve spoilt their game, its no fun for them anymore. So in short, don’t just be cool, be ice cold and let the bullies bubble, boil and stew in their own pool of nasty intentions.

Complain

Many online games can automatically identify certain words and phrases that alerts moderators to check what’s happening. For instance, call somebody a terrorist and you’re likely to get banned for a few weeks at least. But some games don’t do this. So if somebody is coming on hard and strong, attacking and undermining with aggression, report them. And report them some more. If your online friends are being targeted as well, get them to report them too.

Keep it private

Keep your personal info, real name, address, phone number and all the other things that are you and belong to you, well and truly private. If you don’t those with malign intentions will exploit them.

Knocked offline

Some gaming bullies can catch your IP address and use it to knock you offline. Its simple to do, kiddie script stuff, by looking at router logs connected to players and the game server. If this happens, be sure to report them when you get back online. But don’t be drawn into engaging in an online spat because that won’t take you anywhere but more trouble.

Mute and filter

Most gaming platforms have some means to block abuse such as chat filters. These can be used to cut out the abuse that pours in via chat channels. You simply filter out the bully. If you’re being harangued on a voice channel just mute them, so you don’t have to listen to their sad stream of invective bile. You should also be able to add the bully/troll to a block list that automatically keeps them from contacting you.

At the end of the day there’ something sad and disturbing about bullies and trolls. They usually have poor self esteem and get a kick out of putting others down. Or they are simply damaged individuals. But that said, no one should be a receptable for the bad feelings they have and can’t contain within themselves. Follow these tips and you can keep the bad blood at bay. You may even want to blow them a digital kiss as you wave them on their way. That’ll confuse them.