I am a mother of four children. Two boys aged fifteen and thirteen and boy-girl twins who are seventeen months old.
I advocate happy parenting since 2009 and I have been doing my research on effective parenting since the first was born. I read books after books, watched super nanny and subscribed to parenting magazines. I applied all that I’ve learnt and experience first-hand the long-proven methods that truly work.
I’ve been encouraging my sons to explore life be it through nature, sports or travel and at home I allow them to express their creativities with little intervention or guided play.
Of course, I do so under my watchful eyes. As my oldest two were growing up, they’ve been really fascinated by geography, numbers, astronomy and the world map. They would spend hours and hours drawing maps, flags, count and write numbers for as long as they could and they’ve stopped counting by the hundredth thousandths and they even created their imaginary planets. That was all they did right up to teenagehood every time they were at home.
Today, we live in a time of smartphones and social media and my sons have smartphones each.
Their first social media account is YouTube and they are only allowed to use YouTube because as a parent, I find YouTube a lot easier to manage content for juniors and young teens.
After they’ve received greenlight, that they could explore YouTube, they began creating their own channel called Imik Fun Arts Productions.
Imik Fun Arts Productions was a dormant channel for several years before they decided to upload content in their channel and this was last year. My oldest would upload his sketches of renowned buildings around the world and my second would upload his doodles.
Within a few months, they’ve managed to have a thousand subscribers and hundreds of active followers commenting on their videos.
My son’s morale rose and being obsessed with numbers, they became critical about increasing their number of followers and likes for each of their posts. My oldest became really addicted to checking in his followers and reading comments and replying to them. I was observing the process closely.
One eventful day, I noticed my oldest became easily agitated for the very first time with me and towards people around him. He hardly smiled and he looked really sad. I noticed that he would type texts on his phone furiously and each time he stopped texting, he would toss his phone on his bed and then he would pick it up again and repeat the process, it kept going on for the next ten minutes and that’s when I decided to intervene. I wanted to look at what was agitating him. He tried to hide his phone and I squabbled to grab his phone. I read through his comments and his exchanges and he was being bullied by an Internet troll.
I also noticed that my son was also trolling online and when tables were turned, he could not take the heat of being at the receiving end.
Before you judge, many adults are just as guilty trolling on others so keep on reading to know how I manage to turn the situation and addiction around within minutes!
I cuddled my son and asked him,
“Why are you so fixated with this one troll and his or her mean comments?”
My sons have hundreds of followers loving and liking their drawings.
I said to my son, that those who are showing support for his work deserves his attention the most.
I asked him to read all the encouraging comments he received and he smiled.
I also encouraged him to produce good content for the sake of his audience and not his pride.
I also said that as much as he didn’t like to be trolled, he was behaving like one too, he was trolling on others in their channels. I asked him, “why?”.
He said that it’s fun to see reactions and I firmly said that that’s what his troll was doing too and now that he knows that being on the receiving end isn’t pleasant, he had made a promise to stop trolling.
My son then asked me, “what should he do about the troll that humiliated him?”
I said, “block and ignore”.
I told him that trolls are fueled by the attention that’s given to them.
He understood right away and did what I asked him to do. Today, he is no longer concerned about getting more likes or followers and he continued doing what he did for the sake of his love for monuments, architecture and buildings.
On my end, I decided to install a child protect app where I could remotely block his access to social media comments and subscribe to a parental guidance plan through my telco because if I choose to allow my children to roam the internet, I might as well be mindful of the implications internet could have on the minds and emotions of my children. It is an important precaution to take.
Here are the takeaways for you to consider before giving your children access to the internet:
- Set ground rules that your child is agreeable with. Be negotiable and come to a common understanding that is a win-win for both.
- Ensure that you are able and ready to notice any changes in behaviours and attitudes in your child.
- Rectify them when it proves to be a cause for concern.
- Be open and alert NOT overly protective or paranoid. You can’t hide things from kids all the time, they are smarter than you think they are.
- Educate yourself about social media its pros and cons. Harness the pros and set a great example through your personal use of social media.
- Set a screen time off.
- Respect meal times, family time and put the phone away.
- Remind one another.
If you are not ready to do the above. I won’t recommend you to allow your child to use a smartphone without supervision or guidance.