Could the worrying Letter X bullying trend turn your child into a troll?

"Too many children have committed suicide over the world due to bullying."
"Too many children have committed suicide over the world due to bullying." Photo: Getty Images

A mum has shared a warning about a new Snapchat bullying trend that encourages kids to share insults about their friends and peers.

Rachaele Hambleton says her daughter Betsy, 12, was invited to take part but refused.

The game, known as Letter X, begins when someone sends the letter X to another child, and that person responds with the name of the person who will be the victim of the bullying.

It's then up to all participants to try to come up with as many insults as possible about the victim, with many focusing on weight, appearance and personality.

Rachaele was proud of her daughter for refusing to take part in the game and standing up to others who were playing it.

"Too many children have committed suicide over the world due to bullying," the UK mum said in a Facebook post.

"Too many children have chosen to put ropes round their necks or swallowed too many pills because they feel the only way out is to kill themselves than continue to cope with the sheer devastation that bullying brings into their worlds."

Rachaele told the Mirror Online, "I just want to raise awareness, because so many mums wouldn't know about this sort of thing."

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Others are concerned that this sort of game has the potential to turn regular children into trolls.

A study by Stanford University in the US has found that any of us can become someone who posts cruel, unpleasant and unnecessary comments, given the right circumstances.

And games such as Letter X provide just the right circumstances – and "permission" for children to become trolls.

Researchers found two factors contributed heavily to trolling: the perpetrator's mood and the tone of other comments.

In the study, they gave participants a test and the asked them to read an article online, complete with comments.

Some were intentionally given a difficult test to put them in a bad mood, and then viewed an article with a series of cruel comments underneath. Of those participants, 68 percent posted cruel comments as well, compared with 35% of those who sat an easy test and saw less offensive comments.

So if others are commenting with cruel jibes, and the child invited to play Letter X is in a bad mood, they can easily be tempted into saying cruel things online.

Snapchat has a dedicated Safety Centre with community guidelines and safety tips. It says it takes safety seriously, but also recommends reporting any abuse to police.