Internet Trolling and the Dehumanization of Society

How destructive is Internet Trollling?


What is Internet Trolling?

Internet Trolling is the use of a negative persona or attitude online that is designed to provoke a response of emotional reaction from others. Trolling takes place in any forum where people online are allowed to communicate with one another: TwitterFacebookYouTubeInstagram, email, chat rooms, and blogs are all places where internet trolling takes place. What internet trolls do ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in (Stein, 2016). Internet Trolling is significantly impactful on young people. In 2012 Amanda Todd  a teen from British Columbia posted a YouTube video outlining how she was bullied by internet trolls, she committed suicide shortly after the publication of her video.

Check it out: 10 Types of Internet Trolls You Can Meet Online

How Trolling is Dehumanizing?

Although often linked to genocide and war, dehumanization should not necessarily be limited to such extreme settings.  Central to the literature on infrahumanization is the realization that people on a daily basis attribute more or less humanness to other people (Lammers and Stapel, 2011). Dehumanization is attributable to an increased rift between people; a separation or disconnectedness many people blame on the increased prevalence of social media. Dehumanization is one of several means by which inhibitions against harming others are overridden.Conceiving of those whom we wish to harm as mere animals make it permissible to do violence to them, and conceiving of them as dangerous animals renders such violence obligatory (Smith, 2016). 

Cognitive Dissonance is a theory that might play a role in how people’s behaviours change when engaged in online activities.  When people act in a certain way online (trolling for example) it’s possible they might change their beliefs to justify their actions. For example, people who insult strangers constantly on Twitter are likely to be less sympathetic and caring to people they do not know. Cognitive Dissonance has also been used to explain how people participated in the Holocaust. Are the psychological processes that influence mass genocide the same that have given rise to internet trolling?  

The Rise of Internet Trolling

Internet trolling is changing the way in which people use the internet. A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they’d been stalked online (Stein, 2016). A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism (Stein, 2016). Trolling is also having a huge effect on people deciding to become disengaged in certain social media platforms because of constant harassment from trolls.For example, Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was forced to leave Twitter after racist and sexist abuse from online trolls. At what point do the benefits of digital technology become outweighed by the negatives associated with online harassment?

Useful Links

Millennials Find Technology Dehumanizing

Is Technology Making us Less Human?Is Technology Making us Less Human?

Why do People Act Differently Online?

Ghostbusters Star Becomes Victim of Online Trolling


Lammers, J., & Stapel, D. (2011). Power increases dehumanization. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 14(1), 113-126. doi:10.1177/1368430210370042

Schneier, M. (2016, April 17). A ‘Battle Cry’ On Internet Trolling. New York Times. pp. 1-9

Smith, D. L. (2016). Paradoxes of dehumanization. Social Theory and Practice, 42(2), 416

Stein, J. (2016, August 18). How Trolls are Ruining the Internet. Time Magazine. Retrieved from

Kaizena: Terrific Tool for Giving Meaningful Feedback to Students

Online program is easy to learn and navigate. Allows teachers to give personalized feedback on student work.


Kaizena is a student feedback program that allows instructors to provide meaningful and personalized commentary on submitted work. Teachers have the ability to highlight specific areas of submitted work (sentences, words, or paragraphs) and leave audio or written feedback for that highlighted area. This is an effective tool for both blended and online classes as it allows for teachers an intimate setting where feedback on student work is specific and finely tuned to student’s needs.

Getting Started

Do you dread sitting down and marking student work? Kaizena offers an amazing alternative where assessing student work becomes a rewarding experience for both teachers and students. Check out this short video on how to get started on Kaizena!

Teaching Ideas

Idea 1- Provide Personalized Feedback

Kaizena allows teachers to provide detailed written and audio feedback to student work. Teachers can highlight specific sections of student work and link that area to written or audio feedback.

Idea 2- Connect Lessons to Student Work

Through Kaizena teachers are able to construct a group of lessons, for example a YouTube video detailing how to use APA Citations, and link that lesson directly to the specific area of student work. This tool allows students to be linked directly to lessons to see where they might have gone wrong or alternatively where they went right.

Idea 3- Connect Feedback directly with Assessment Criteria

Teachers are able to highlight specific areas of student work and provide a leveled grade on the associated skill being assessed. For example giving students a level 3 for citations or a level 4 for persuasive writing. This tool allows teachers to be as transparent as possible when assessing student work.

Helpful Resources


The greatest part of Kaizena is that it is free to use!

Is Internet Addiction a Thing?

Internet addiction has become an international trend that is forcing people to reconsider the negative consequences of over exposure to the world wide web.

What is Internet Addiction?

Internet addiction is a relatively new trend in the medical community that attempts to categorize people suffering negative personal side effects of an over-exposure to the internet. Internet addiction, while being addressed in places such as China and South Korea, has yet to be fully accepted in North America. Internet addiction has been associated with a myriad of negative side effects such as social isolation, depression, decreased academic performance and altered interpersonal relationships.

Problems Associated with Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can affect different realms of people’s lives, including personal relationships, employment, academics, and one’s own physical health. Alfred University’s Provost W . Richard Ott investigated why normally successful students with 1200 to 1300 SATs had recently been dismissed. To his surprise, his investigation found that forty-three percent of these students failed school due to extensive patterns of late night log-ons to the university computer system (Young, 1999). Matrimonial lawyers in the United States have reported seeing a rise in divorce cases due to the formation of such Cyberaffairs stemming from excessive internet use (Young, 1999). One survey from the nation’s top 1,000 companies revealed that fifty-five percent of executives believed that time surfing the Internet for non-business purposes is undermining their employees’ effectiveness on the job (Young, 1999). The widespread availability of the internet has the potential to cause alarming personal issues for people lacking knowledge and understanding of its addictive qualities. 

Internet Addiction in China

China, along with other Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, is at the forefront of diagnosing and treating people with internet addiction.  Internet addiction is currently becoming a serious mental health problem among Chinese adolescents (Cao and Su, 2007). Studies of Taiwanese College students found that the incidence rate of internet addiction among Taiwan college students was 5.9%.  In 2005, the Beijing judge Shan Xiuyun estimated that ninety per cent of the city’s juvenile crime was Internet-related—a remarkable notion at a time when less than 10% of the nation’s population was online (Osnos, 2014). Many in China blame increased youth internet addiction on a rigid social class system that preaches conformism and stifles any thought of upward mobility. Are we in North America blind to an increased reliance and dependence on digital technology?


Aldama, Z. (2015, January 17). Inside the Chinese Boot Camp Treating Internet Addiction. The Telegraph. Retrieved from

Cao, F., & Su, L. (2007). Internet addiction among Chinese adolescents: prevalence and psychological features. Child: care, health and development, 33(3), 275-281.

Osnos, E. (2014, July 28). Talking to China’s “Web Junkies”. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

Young, K. S. (1998). Internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology & behavior, 1(3), 237-244.

Young, K. S. (1999). Internet addiction: symptoms, evaluation and treatment. Innovations in clinical practice: A source book, 17, 19-31.

Additional Resources:


Is it fair to place internet addiction next to other forms of addiction such as drugs and gambling? Is North America behind the 8-ball when it comes to diagnosing and treating internet addiction? Please post your thoughts and let me know what you think!

Spicing up Social Studies Classrooms with Geocaching

Geocaching: The Basics

Geocaching is a digital application that helps students take part in a scavenger hunt for hidden caches around the world. Hidden caches can be found in both urban/rural environments, such as a park bench on a busy Toronto street or under a rock next to the Bay of Fundy. Geocaching is a terrific activity that helps merge technology and the great outdoors.

Things Getting “Stale” in your Social Studies Classroom?

Are your students using twenty-year-old decaying history textbooks? Are your students “tuning out” of your class and not making connections with your curriculum?  Students have reported that social studies is boring because of its emphasis on memorization of endless facts that they say are of little importance to their lives (Rossi, 1995). It doesn’t have to be this way. With geocaching, social studies can be brought to life as students can ditch their stained and moldy textbooks for engaging inquiry-based learning activities in the “real” world.

Geocaching in the Classroom

The possibilities of geocaching go far beyond recreational use. As a classroom tool, geocaching provides authentic inquiry-based activities that support higher order thinking skills. (Lisenbee, Hallman, Landry, 2015). Geocaching also encourages students to get outside the classroom walls and make meaningful connections between technology and the natural world (Lisenbee et al, 2015). Teachers who have used geocaching praise it for facilitating students to become a community of learners where they became their own instructors (Lisenbee et al, 2015)

 Connection to the Curriculum

Geocaching lends itself well to a variety of interdisciplinary opportunities in the social studies classroom.  In history class students could use geocaching to explore a battle field where they could uncover caches that detail quotes from military leaders, journal entries from soldiers, and photographs from the time of the battle (Adam and Mowers, 2007). In geography class, geocaching can be used to help students map the community around their school or explore the meaning of longitude and latitude. Geocaching is a terrific tech tool that can help students to make meaningful “real-world” connections with the social studies curriculum.


Adam, A., & Mowers, H. (2007). Can you dig it? School Library Journal, 53(8), 40.

Lisenbee, P., Hallman, C., & Landry, D. (2015). Geocaching is catching students’ attention in the classroom. The Geography Teacher, 12(1), 7-16. doi:10.1080/19338341.2014.975147

Rossi, J. A. (1995). In-depth study in an issues-oriented social studies classroom. Theory & Research in Social Education, 23(2), 88-120.

Schlatter, B. E., & Hurd, A. R. (2005). GEOCACHING: 21st-century hide-and-seek. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 76(7), 28-32.

Please feel free to reply below and let me know if you have ever used geocaching in the classroom.