A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
TRILL PROJECT is a social networking app designed to provide support groups for older teens struggling with life's serious issues. The app assigns every user an anonymous username based on a color and a random number, and users can only follow tags, not other users. Users can search specific topics such as relationships, mental health, school, etc., and can create and join Communities, which are small, moderated support groups dedicated to specific topics. Posts can include questions, quotes, or answers to the Daily Question (Trill asks users things like "What makes you you?" and "What makes you feel safe?"), and users can comment on one another's posts. New posts contain a "Trigger" option to indicate that their content could trigger destructive behaviors in other users, and a Trigger filter hides such content unless users specifically reveal it. A built-in tool lets users flag each others' posts if the content in them indicates authors may do harm to themselves or others. In addition to this, an Emergency link lists phone and online contacts for various support, healthcare, and law enforcement organizations.
Is it any good?
This simple app, created by high school girls wanting to make a difference, gives people a place to discuss their concerns and employs anonymity in a way that's constructive rather than harmful. While there are plenty of apps that let people anonymously criticize each other, Trill Project encourages people to help each other and bond not through online identities, but through common problems and fears. Its developers' main concern is user safety (a welcome change among social networking apps) and as such, group discussions are moderated by Trill employees, and content is strictly monitored. The "Trigger" function is another example of the company's protective intent; turned on, it hides the text within posts if it might trigger destructive behaviors such as cutting or having suicidal thoughts. Even better is the tool that lets you report offensive or abusive content, or content that suggests the author might be thinking of hurting either themselves or others. An Emergency link supports this function by giving you quick and easy access to phone numbers and online links to police, shelters, hospitals, and other kinds of support. Of course, apps like this one aren't a substitute for professional help, and there's always a risk that teens won't find the support they're looking for, so it's important for parents to stay involved and intervene when necessary. The only small technical problems with the app are the sometimes sloppy text, the somewhat inexplicable Conversations function, and the fact that the app can randomly minimize while you're using it. It's also somewhat odd that you can anonymously invite someone to join, but you have to have that person's phone number to do so. Even with these things, though, Trill Project is a good, positive outlet for older teens to share their concerns and give support and receive it from people dealing with problems like their own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online anonymity in Trill Project and similar apps. Are there instances where it can help rather than hurt? What are the risks?
Think about how online communities can be used for support. Have you ever made friends through an online group or forum?
Discuss "triggering" posts. Do your kids know how to handle a post that encourages people to hurt themselves?
For kids who love mental health and social networking apps
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