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How we taught our teen to deal with online Trolls

Our thirteen year olds social media outlet of choice is Instagram. He is a bit of a skater boy and loves to post videos of his latest trick he has learnt, or a picture of his new deck that he has saved his pocket money up for and finally been able to afford to buy. 

We have no problem with this, our rule is that as parents we follow his account and are Facebook friends. This way we are able to keep an eye on what he is sharing, and ensure he doesn’t experience any problems. We feel we still have a small amount of control. 

One thing we aren’t able to do is control comments from online Trolls. Harrison has experienced his fair share of trolling. Some of the trolls actually turned out to be so called school friends. Teenagers can be absolute tools! Some are strangers who have seen the first comments from this ‘friend’ and see this as an opening for a free for all trolling session. 

Once particular boy from school became a huge problem for a while. He seemed to get a kick out trolling under the guise of it’s just ‘banter’. It isn’t just Harrison that has fallen victim to this boy.  Anyone who has tried to stand up to him then becomes his next target. 

One of Harrison’s primary school friends learnt this the hard way after responding to  one such comment, with the other boy going as far as making a video inviting people to hate on him for standing up for his friend. Nice kid!! Not! 

Knowing who this boy was we initially took the route of discussing this with the schools pastoral care to see if they could help. Unfortunately other than pulling the boy aside and having a chat with him about appropriate online behaviour the schools stance on this is there is nothing they are able to do if it isn’t actually happening on school premises. 

Left to deal with this problem ourselves we had to work out the best way to mange it. 

We had a sit down with Harrison and discussed to what extent he felt this was just ‘banter’ and if he was finding it hurtful. He admitted that he was finding some of the trolling upsetting but as the instigator was part of the same friendship group he didn’t want to create further problems at school. 

Harrison agreed that for now we would block this boy from leaving any comments on his Instagram page. This has reduced any trolling to almost zero. 

We also advised him to completely ignore anything that he felt was a trolling comment. After all the trolls get off on a reaction. Funnily enough that stops any potential troll in their tracks. 

I noticed one such comment yesterday and am glad to see Harrison has ignored it. By refusing to acknowledge this person they went away. 

I am so proud of the fact that Harrison is mature enough to deal with trolls in this way. It really isn’t easy to ignore such comments but it is by far the most effective way of getting rid of them. 

Harrison is a confident and sociable boy so is able to to do this. I do feel it would be much harder for anyone who struggles with confidence to just ignore trolling. This is why it is so important to have an agreement with your child that enables you to monitor their online activity. 

What do you think is the best way to beat those Trolls?