BRYAN, Texas — The pandemic has moved many of our daily routines online. With Tiktok, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and more, people of all ages may find themselves constantly scrolling and interacting with their screens more as they stay home.
“What we found specifically during the pandemic is 63 percent of parents have reported their teens using social media more during the pandemic, although 45 percent said that they were appreciative of their teens social media use during this crisis, mainly because they thought of it as a way to interact with people they might not normally be able to, and we found that only 39 percent of them were increasingly concerned about it," said Outreach Team Lead's Matt Zajechowski.
A study conducted by Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago discovered that cyberbullying and addiction are two of the top concerns parents have when it comes to their children using social media.
“If a parent suspected their kid is using social media too much or is using it in a negative way, having a sit-down face to face conversation with them is a great first step. Limiting time that is used [on] social media, limiting how they’re using it, limiting access to certain platforms," said Zajechowski.
With schools largely online, one non-profit focused on keeping the community safe says cyberbullying has increased from 60-70 percent during this time.
“It makes sense because kids are home, they’re bored, they're somewhat isolated and they’re anxious. Add to that, we’ve now gone from telling them you know before the pandemic, don’t be online all the time, try to talk to your friends face to face, there’s no point in talking to strangers, to now, you’re going to do everything online including school," said Crime Stoppers of Houston's CEO Rania Mankarious.
She says the key to combating this issue is to talk about it with their kids.
“it starts with conversations. Adults talking to their kids about being a good digital citizen, what does it mean, just because you’re home, you’re behind closed doors, every word you say, everything you do has a consequence and those are very real. Sometimes there’s criminal liability, there can be ramifications that cause really extreme mental health issues in another person," said Mankarious.
There are many different forms of cyberbullying and there can be legal consequences involved. Mankarious added that instead of isolating and ignoring the bully, it is also important to look at the changes in their behavior and figure out why they are doing what they’re doing.