Students spending more time online at greater risk for cyberbullying


UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — While students are still learning from home, the risk of cyberbullying increases.

There are a lot of positive aspects to social media — it’s a way to keep up with family and friends while we are all spending more time at home due to coronavirus; however, spending more time online means a greater risk for kids to experience online bullying.

“28% in the U.S. of 6 through 12th-graders have been bullied, and that’s a large percentage,” said Michelle White, a middle school counselor with Tennessee Connections Academy, “15% of 9 through 12th-graders have been cyberbullied.”

In addition to the workload of homework and extra-curricular activities, another concern of students might include the way in which they are perceived both in-person and online.

“Growing up, I think that everybody at one point in their life has experiences bullying, whether it’s cyber, physical or verbal bullying,” said Zoie Stout, a 12th-grader at Unicoi County High School.

Though cyberbullying has been a longtime concern for parents throughout the digital age, now students are at a higher risk.

“Cyberbullying is probably going to expand now due to everybody being online more and being in their homes more because they have nothing else to do,” said Stout.

Stout said that cyberbullying has hit close to home before.

“As for my brother, he went through bullying in high school, and my other brother went through bullying through middle school,” explained Stout. “He has cerebral palsy, and he often had a hard time to say ‘here’ whenever the teacher would call roll.”

She believes cyberbullying can be even more prevalent in present-day society.

“I think cyberbullying is very different today because of all the social media platforms that teens and preteens have today,” Stout said.

Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are all ways for people to hide behind screens.

“I think it’s important to watch your children, and if you see that they are starting to withdraw and they’re not wanting to be online as much or they’re not wanting to go and do a particular activity, I think that could be a sign,” explained White.

School officials say if your child is being cyber-bullied, you or your child can reach out to a counselor or school leader to report the issue.

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