I’m in shock at what I found—how do I make him stop?

I’m in shock at what I found—how do I make him stop?


My 13-year-old son is, for lack of a better term, “extremely online.” He has a few social media accounts that I have the password to, but have never really looked into his behavior on those because we never had a reason to (my husband and I believe that once our children have earned our trust, there needs to be a specific reason in order for us to check up on them). Well, the reason has arrived. It appears he’s been bullying another boy at school via one of the social media apps, calling him “retarded” and making jokes about the other boy’s mother. I am, of course, horrified. I checked his other accounts and it turns out my kid is pretty much a massive troll. He constantly posts “edgy” content to get a rise out of people and seems to be amused when he provokes an emotional response. There are a few other boys in his class who egg him on—I haven’t reached out to their parents yet.

On one hand, I think this is probably something a lot of 13-year-old boys do, but on the other hand, I find it completely unacceptable. I can’t square this 13-year-old “edgelord” with the sweet, good-natured kid I see in front of me. I also have no idea how to proceed here. What do I do with his technology? How can I punish him without driving him further away? What do I do about the parents of the other trolls, and the parents of the boy my son bullied? I never thought we’d be in this position so I have truly never given thought to what I’d do in this situation. Please help us.

—Aghast in Arizona


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