My 68-year-old dad won't get off Twitter

Jo Lamble helps Carol navigate the social media minefield with her father.

Old gray haired man using Twitter on Apple iPad

Carol is all for her father staying abreast of technology, but she thinks his Twitter obsession has gone too far. Jo Lamble helps her navigate the social media minefield with her father.

Q. Carol
My 68-year-old father has discovered Twitter and while I think it’s great he’s keeping up with technology and social media, some of the things he posts are frankly outrageous. He’s a teacher, still working, and has some strong left-wing views, which is his right. But the torrent of abuse he gives people on Twitter for not agreeing with his opinion is embarrassing.

Also, it’s very difficult to have a conversation with him as he is constantly on his phone. My sister and I have both suggested that he’s taking it too far, but my mum just interrupts and says we should leave him be. I’m concerned he’s excluding himself from normal life and that he may become a victim of internet trolls. What can we do?

A. You sound like you’re at an age where you probably worry about what your children are doing online, and now you have to monitor your father’s online presence as well. My advice is the same whether you’re dealing with a teenager, a partner or a parent, and that’s to help them rather than reprimand them.

Telling your father that his tweets are inappropriate and outrageous will cause your father (and mother) to be defensive. But if you tackle the situation with empathy and support, he may just listen. For example, you might say something like: It’s fabulous that you have discovered Twitter. You’re obviously enjoying it. I know you have strong opinions and you have every right to have those views, but I’m worried that some of the users on Twitter may not take too kindly to everything you say. I’d love to help you with what can be very tricky – being online and the main rule is that you only say things that you’d say to someone’s face. Lightly remind him that the law is being rewritten to address online abuse and discrimination and that you’re worried he will fall foul of the new laws.

You might not be able to convince your father to tone down his aggressive style, but you should have a better chance with a supportive approach.

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    COMMENTS

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    HDRider
    8th Mar 2017
    10:24am
    You could try leaving him alone, freedom of speech is a great thing! Carol sounds like a control freak to me and should NOT follow her dad on twitter, then she will not have a problem. Too many people worry too much about what others are doing, leave the old fella alone, he's a big boy and entitled to air his views like the rest of us. Guess it's not his fault his wife gave birth to the perfect daughter!
    Nan Norma
    8th Mar 2017
    10:37am
    I understand Carol's concerns but I wonder how she would feel if the situation was reversed. He's a grown man. Its his business. You've told him what you think, not get on with your own life.
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2017
    12:21pm
    I think Carol's concern is genuine and should be supported. The advice above is OK, except that I don't agree with the statement "It’s fabulous that you have discovered Twitter.". I would instead suggest that Twitter is a destructive, bullying (without identifying the bully) media which should not be allowed to exist without controls as it is now.

    Hence, suggest Carol / others, to start a Petition on Change.org to either have Twitter shut down or make it accept responsibility for all nasty posts including bullying - say by identifying the writers (Twitter should not claim it doesn't know who they are), monitoring posts, and censoring / shutting down / referring to police extreme posts if people do not tone it down.


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