Jeremy Todd of Family Lives Discusses Twitter’s latest response to tackle Trolls

There isn’t a week that goes by without at least one story of twitter trolls in the media. 

Children and adults can on occasion make stupid, off the cuff and in extreme examples, inappropriate and abusive online remarks that warrant further investigation and censure.  Misusing online social media could have a prolonged and lasting impact on an individual’s future prospects if they are attributed to offensive statements.  In an online survey, Bullying UK, part of Family Lives, found that 43.5% of respondents aged 11-16 had been bullied via social networks such as Twitter.  51% felt that blocking the bully from further contact or communication was a vital tool and a further 68% felt that being able to report the perpetrator’s bullying activities would be advantageous.  Of 49,723 calls taken by Family Lives via its free 24/7 Parentline, Live Chat and Email support services over a 12 month period - 2,723 concerned bullying in its various forms. 

Children can become so consumed by negative online comments towards them, it is crucial that a sense of perspective and proportion is injected to avoid issues spiralling out of control. Parents and other family members must familiarise themselves with ever evolving technology. For example, spending time with children looking at functions, exploring how to block unwanted or uninvited contact.  It’s important to continue to increase this knowledge as children grow older and migrate from PCs to laptops to handheld devices.  At BullyingUK we encourage parents to talk to their children about how, when and why they use their mobile phone or internet. If they seem distressed after a phone call or time spent on the internet, try and find out the reasons for this.  

The online world offers a wealth of opportunities to learn, communicate and explore. However, the internet is like the outside world where children can meet different people and may be exposed to risk.  Children actively participate in the digital world; the majority have social media accounts and communicate daily online via smart phones.  Cyberbullying, like all bullying, can have a devastating impact on a child’s confidence, happiness and self-esteem. These effects can be long lasting and may have a negative impact on a child’s performance at school.  Sometimes, children are bullied online by people they have met face-to-face, or even friends. Bullies may use online technology as it’s more difficult to recognise senders. Others may take part perhaps by forwarding videos and emails to others. For all people involved, it may get out of hand very quickly because it is not easy to identify who is responsible and children may find themselves caught up in the cyber mob mentality.”

For support visit www.bullying.co.uk or call Family Lives’ free 24/7 Helpline on 0808 800 2222

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