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Our Favourite Ways to Keep Children Safe from Trolling

The internet is a great source of information and entertainment for children, but as they start to use social media sites, they are at risk of being trolled or becoming an internet troll. It is important that parents monitor their children's social media use in an effort to stop trolling before it becomes an issue


What is trolling?

For those unfamiliar with the term troll, it means an individual who says mean things, or picks fights online with the intention of hurting someone emotionally. With the amount of time children spend online these days, comments from trolls can eat away at your child's confidence and can lead to further emotional issues.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't let your child use social media, but it does mean that you need to make sure there are checks in place to stop them becoming the victim, or the troll. Sometimes a comment that starts out harmlessly can spiral into a full on bullying fest as tweets become viral or Facebook posts are shared. 

Tips to help you keep your children safer on social media 

Before joining

  • Before your children join a social network, talk to them about how they intend to use it and who they intend to connect with. Get them to show you how you can use it so that you understand it better and can look for any areas you think might be unsafe 
  • Look at the age restrictions on different social media platforms and make sure children adhere to these restrictions
  • Wait until your child is mature enough to let them enter the world of social media. This is less about age and more about how they react in social situations and how perceptive they are.

When signing up

  • Make sure to choose passwords that are secure, and that you are aware of. Don't abuse this information by spying on them, however there may be instances where you need to access their account 
  • Check their settings and make sure they are only sharing or communicating with friends. Even if you choose this setting, have them go through their friends list with you every now and then to make sure they know everyone they speak to online, in real life as well 
  • Make friends - even if it's not cool to have your parents as friends on social media - this might be a non-negotiable for you - either that or find a close family relative or friend that they trust to do the same. However, if you do get them to friend you, remember not to make embarrassing comments on their walls or feeds as you are there to keep them safe not socialise! 

Dangers of posting and sharing

  • Have a frank conversation with your children about the dangers of social media and make sure they understand the risks involved in sharing personal details, or talking to strangers. Just as they wouldn't talk to a stranger in person or tell someone on the phone that you're going on holiday - nor should they on social media
  • Help your child understand the longevity of being online. In their eyes, it will seem instantaneous and short-lived, however what they post online can have repercussions that last into their job seeking years 
  • Help children understand that whatever they post on their wall is public, and can be passed around to anyone without their permission 
  • Talk to your child about what to do when they see a post or comment that they either take offence to or that is aimed at them. Drawing conversations offline is still important and in many cases, it's better to report something than respond and antagonise. Sometimes this conversation is more likely to happen between your child and a family friend, encourage them to open up to those in your family's circle of trust.
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