Surprisingly, more of our teenagers are using twitter than you may think. The common attitude among young people is it’s a good place to express yourself even if you’re not sure anyone is listening. Twitter is still a place for teens to go public with their thoughts and opinions. The potential problem with such expression is that there are always those out there wanting to counter your opinion. Often this takes on the form of trolling or bullying. Twitter has released some tools that can help their users filter out some of those trolls and parents need to learn how to use them.
Twitter was in the news last year because of a common theme of internet trolls bullying users, especially celebrities. This caused Twitter to begin working on some new ways to “clean up” what you see in your feed. In the last several days Android and Desktop Twitter users were given the power to block notifications of posts from certain types of accounts, including those who haven’t verified their email address and phone number. The common practice of these trolls is to create fake accounts just for the sole purpose of messing with someone. They don’t verify the account or even include a profile picture, displaying the default bird’s egg logo instead. The new tools developed by Twitter will allow these trolls to be filtered out by simply clicking a couple of checkboxes.
What Parents Should Do
Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among teens and a teen that is cyberbullies is ten times more likely to think about killing themselves. These statistics are a reality in this digital world and are a wake up call that parents need to take the opportunity to filter content in their kids social media feeds seriously. These notification filters can help remove some of the negative and hurtful people that just seem to want to make trouble on Twitter.
Take note of the above picture. If you go to the notifications tab on twitter you’ll see a Settings link on the upper right. Click that link and you should see something similar to this image. It’s pretty straight forward but if you turn off notifications for anyone who hasn’t set up their profile picture, validated their email, or linked their phone number you’ll eliminate many of those troll accounts that cause so much trouble. Remember that Twitter and other social media sites contain “User Generated Content” and therefore, can’t be considered safe for anyone under 17. This means you should keep an eye on what your child or teen seeing on Twitter and have conversations with them about it. As them why they use Twitter. Find out if they’ve ever been teased or bullies on the app. If so, ask what they did about it and who they told. Kids who talk about being bullied are far less likely to take drastic measure as a result of it so open the lines of communication and be present when they need you. You should be that safe place they can come to with any problem. Bullying on social media is no exception.
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