Twitter Bullies? Tips to Help Kids
Written By Savvy Auntie Staff Writers
By P. Humbargar
Today, there are over 140 million active users on Twitter, and over 400 million Tweets per day. While only 8% of online American teens, 12 to 17, are reportedly on Twitter, some do suffer from abusive “Twitter trolls” or Twitter bullies. Although the vast majority of Tweets are not in any way abusive, it often takes only one malicious post to cause a great deal of disruption and hurt. Sadly, the old saying that “one rotten apple spoils the barrel” is as true in today’s cyberworld as it was generations ago.
A Twitter spokesperson has stated, in response to the recent case of cyberbullying involving Olympic athleticism, that they don’t monitor the content users post, but they will evaluate any abuse reported and take appropriate action if the abuse violates Twitter’s terms of service. Cases where Twitter will take action and suspend or terminate a user’s account are quite limited in scope. There are actually few limitations on the content that can be published on Twitter. Complex freedom of speech issues are obviously involved, and Twitter will thus not censor content or mediate disputes between users.
As Savvy Aunties, one of the best things we can do to protect kids from those who bully and prey upon them is to stay up-to-date. Numerous online anti-bullying resources are available, like www.TeenCentral.Net/bully and Project Anti Bully.
Although Twitter will not get involved in disputes over content, it offers suggestions on what to do if a user encounters what could be deemed abusive behavior.
-If you see a post that is upsetting on your niece’s or nephew’s feed, step back and consider the larger conversation it may be connected to since Tweets can be confusing when taken out of context.
-Tell them to think before they Tweet, as fighting fire with fire can often reinforce bad behavior.
-Show nieces and nephews how to simply block the abusive user, and end the offensive communication. (Instructions on how to block a user are available at Twitter.com.)
-Remind them to turn to family and friends for support and advice.
-If you believe the communication is in violation of Twitter rules and user agreement, report it to Twitter.
-If you believe your nieces or nephews have received credible threats, consider speaking with their parents to report the threats to local law enforcement.
Photo: David Castillo Dominici
Published: August 7, 2012