5 tips on how not to behave badly online

Engage online without descending into a snarkfest.

It's tough sometimes not to feed the social media trolls who spew venom randomly. But it can be done.

Educational psychology and technology expert Jason Harley and social media expert Jessica Laccetti offer tips on how to engage constructively.

1. Think about why you are posting a comment.

"Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying and what you hope to get out of it," Harley advised. "It is a personal opinion? A fact based on experience? Weigh the importance of saying something and then couch it accordingly."

"Ask yourself if you can offer something of value to the discussion," said Laccetti.

2. Cool down before answering an angry comment.

"When we get upset, we are less efficient at problem-solving and other cognitive processes, so don't respond right away," Harley suggested. "Draft a message and come back to it in half an hour."

3. Keep an open mind.

"If you want to be understood, invest time in sharing your point of view from an angle the other person can appreciate and connect with," Harley said. "If you're having a conversation about global warming with someone who absolutely loves big trucks, talk about Tesla's new electric models. It's not effective to browbeat someone. Shame is not a way of persuading people."

4. Become more literate online.

"It's not just about using technology, but using it in an appropriate way," said Laccetti. "We as users of technology need to know how to find the information we require and the communities that share our values. We need to question what we read. Even on social media, we should critically evaluate what is being said and by whom."

5. If an online conversation disintegrates, let your fingers do the walking, not the talking.

"No one is compelling you to respond," said Harley. "If it's an emoticon screaming contest with no trace of a conversation anymore, just leave. You'll probably thank yourself later."