When you think of a troll online, you picture a very grumpy mean adult sat back making others miserable on purpose don’t you? However are children today accidentally trolling?
I recently did a YouTube video which reached almost 40,000 people. Brilliant yes, or so I thought at first. Then the comments started …
‘why are her eyebrows so weird lol, freak’
‘Ha ha ha she has a double chin really badly if you look at this bit…’
‘Yeah she looks so weird lolz, ugly’
That’s just a few of the comments I got in the space of two weeks … there were others. To start with my first thought was urgh I have a troll. A few of the comments were from accounts with no real names and no photos, from spelling mistakes within them I suspected that yes this was one horrible person for those ones.
The others … were all from children. Mainly from the looks of it eight or nine-year olds with their own YouTube accounts. Some even had a few of their own videos on there. Don’t worry I wasn’t mean and returned the favour, I’m the adult in this situation, plus I am never mean to anyone especially not people I have never met.
I also turned the commenting off in the end, as they were beginning to target other children who were saying nice things about me and I didn’t want to be the reason an argument started or the reason why a child had their own account ‘trolled’.
These children though have their own accounts, the ability to comment on other people’s videos and boy are they using that ability. This isn’t the first time that I have noticed children making personal comments about people on YouTube, but it was the first time it had happened on one of my own.
Now when my two were small, I used to find it cute the way that they just came out with whatever was in their heads. Sometimes it was embarrassing, but they were small children and it was to be expected. Though I did teach them about how hurtful comments can be and what was and wasn’t okay to say obviously.
It is a little less cute when children take this lack of filter on to the internet and use it to comment on other people’s appearances. Luckily it was me that they commented about, I am old enough and confident enough in myself – seriously I don’t give a damn what my eyebrows look like, there really are more important issues and things in my life ha.
I say luckily, because if these children commented on the wrong person’s video or on another child’s video and said these things or worse, then they could be hurtful and even harmful. Not to mention if they annoyed the wrong sort of person, they then could find themselves trolled themselves.
I’m not actually saying these children are trolls, as to me by definition a troll hurts on purpose, in fact they live to hurt people with their words in my experience.
What I am saying though, is that if you have a child who has access to YouTube or any other type of social media, then maybe now is a good time to have a chat with them.
I’m not here to tell you how to parent – seriously who of us knows it all?! I’m mostly hoping I survive the teen years that are quickly approaching. However, it could be a good idea to check that they aren’t being mean without realising, to remind them that the words they say online are the same as saying them to a real person.
They don’t disappear once written, they are there for others to read. I always say to my own boys that before they say anything that could be construed as being mean, that they should imagine how they would feel if someone said those things to them or about someone who they love.
I also randomly check their phones and tablets to see what they are up to online. Neither of them actually comment on YouTube or anything yet, but I still check and remind them that words written online are read by others and can hurt.
My ‘weird’ eyebrows and I will still be doing videos sometimes by the way, hopefully to a kinder audience.