Tilly, 15, died by suicide after years of bullying. This is her mum's warning.

This article deals with suicide.

Aussie kids are accessing social media at younger and younger ages with each passing year. By the time they reach double digits, most kids have their own phone. By 13, the majority have a social media account. 

But the perils associated with the online space — bullying, sextortion, the nonconsensual sharing of deepfake images — are having devastating consequences on our children and teens. 

Now a new campaign is calling for the Federal Government to act and raise the age that children can access social media from 13 to 16. It could just save lives. 

Matilda 'Tilly' Rosewarne was a normal eight-year-old girl who loved her family and had a passion for dance when the bullying began. Via social media, Tilly's classmates had been relentless. They used Snapchat and a European pornography website to circulate fake nude images of the teenager. 

After seven years of incessant online and in-person bullying, both at school and around her hometown of Bathurst, New South Wales, Tilly took her own life in 2022. She was just 15 years old.

Watch: Inside the mind of a former bully. Post continues below.


Video via SBS Insight.

Tilly's uncle, Sam Mason, penned a powerful tribute on LinkedIn that has been shared far and wide.

He wrote: "Just after 3am one morning a brave little girl, determined to look pretty, got up and put on her makeup one last time. When she was ready she climbed out her bedroom window and went down into the backyard where the cubby house was. Finding her way in the dark was easy as she had played with her sisters and cousins there all her short life. 

"She had planned this moment out in detail and for the first time in a long, long time she finally felt at peace — her phone was clear, the pin number removed, the instructions were there and a short note telling her family that she loved them. She was exhausted, tired, broken — she just couldn't fight anymore. Matilda was found by her father a few hours later when he was getting everyone up for school."

Emma Mason, Tilly's mum, has tirelessly advocated on her daughter's behalf for the past two years.

Right now, she wants to make noise about a new campaign. 

Let Them Be Kids is a News Corp Australia campaign calling for children under 16 to be restricted from having social media accounts. It's being championed by experts and psychologists. Emma is one such advocate. 


"A law would make it far easier for parents. No longer would they be having those constant, long-winded arguments with their kids and having to fight over it. It would be akin to seatbelts, saying: 'It's the law you need to wear your seatbelt, put your seatbelt on now.' And ideally soon: 'It's the law. It's illegal for you to have a social media account before the age of 16. End of discussion.' It gives the power back to parents," she explains to Mamamia

Recently she and other concerned parents met with members of a selected committee in Federal Parliament. 

Emma says the response was positive, though the Federal Government needs parents who vote to take action and speak up. There were also other parents in attendance who have lost their children to suicide, associated with online bullying.

"As someone who has the ability to speak, I'm able to now put this really sh*tty and horrible experience into words that people can hear. One of the fathers present in Canberra is earlier in his journey, given his child died just under six months ago. There's this collegial sense of everyone trying to support one another and turning pain into action."

Beautiful Tilly. Image: Supplied. 


Emma is asking all parents to send through a submission to the Joint Select Committee on Social Media and Australian Society or write to their local member. Submissions to the committee are open until June 28.

"I think there's a beginning of a movement. I feel positive about it, but I'm also waiting to see what the Federal Government actually does next. We were working really well with the NSW Government in a bullying task force. Then as soon as state leadership changed, there's been silence," notes Emma.

"With social media and the impact on children, we shouldn't need to have more kids die for the government to step in. We want this campaign to have bipartisan support and for swift action. This shouldn't be a political hot potato. Children's lives literally depend on it."

Professor Selena Bartlett is a world-renowned neuroscientist at the Queensland University of Technology.


She has done extensive research in children's mental health in the digital age, and is the author of BEING SEEN: Master Parenting in the Digital Age

"Only three per cent parents are aware of what their children are seeing online and how it's influencing their brain development. We have a crisis here in Australia that no one wants to talk about. Early life experiences and what children are exposed to at this age really influences their mental health for the rest of their life," she tells Mamamia.

Professor Bartlett is also advocating for Let Them Be Kids. 

"Because of the nature of how the technology has been developed, the whole aim is to keep us on social media platforms as much as possible. Children are particularly susceptible to that. Making social media unlawful for kids under 16 at least gives them more time to have further brain and emotional development, which can safeguard them more when reacting to things."

She also notes that social media platforms ought to be penalised more from the Federal Government for putting their multi-billion-dollar profits over people. 

"While we wait for legislation, there are things parents can do right now to protect their kids. We can work out exactly who our children are talking to and what they're seeing online."

The harm of online bullying can be instant. The feelings of disempowerment too much to bear. 

"Tilly was a gentle, kind, sweet girl. The effects of bullying created someone who was very introverted, very tired and very broken," says Emma.


"She didn't begin life with a mental health illness, but ended life with a mental health illness. What I hope Tilly's legacy is, is attention on the issues that arose as a result of her story. That's teen suicide, the woeful funding for mental health issues in children, the effects of social media and swift responses to bullying behaviour."

The age 16 social media verification won't bring Tilly back, Emma notes.

But it could make a significant difference in the lives of thousands of Australian children. 

"There are other families and children where social media is eating the fabric of our society away. I feel that even in my own household with my two other daughters, despite everything that has happened. I'm still fighting the kids to get off their phones, the never-ending 'need' to connect. It's completely out of control. And social media companies have so much to answer for."

To send through a submission to the Joint Select Committee on Social Media and Australian Society, you can do so here. You can also write to your local member on this issue to drum up support. Submissions to the committee are open until June 28.

You can also sign the Let Them Be Kids petition here

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied.