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Experts say virtual learning could lead to an increase in cyberbullying

As families prepare for more screen-time for their children, there are some things parents may need to know to protect children from cyberbullying.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — School districts across the Carolinas will have the choice of a mix of in-person and online learning or all online learning in the coming school year. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opted for a mix — the first two weeks of school will be a rotation with small groups of students involving in-person and virtual learning. Then, starting week three all students' learning will be remote until further notice.

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Parents can also choose the option for remote learning only rather than attend the few weeks of in-classroom onboarding.

As families prepare for more screen-time for their children, there are some things parents may need to know to protect children from cyberbullying.

Since CMS will be facing a plan heavy on remote learning, it means more time online for students and more risk for cyberbullying. According to one recent study, cyberbullying can have a long-term impact on mental health.

“In this study, they looked at the incidence of depression, anxiety and PTSD," Dr. Tatiana Falcone with the Cleveland Clinic said. "They found that a lot of the kids who were cyberbullied also have increased risk for posttraumatic stress disorder.”

The ability for people to be anonymous online only makes it easier to say mean things.

“When you’re saying something and it’s not to the face of the person, people feel empowered about saying bad things, and then the other friends – or the other people – don’t even think of the impact of that comment and they just ‘like it’ and so that impacts the child even more," Dr. Falcone said.

Doctors encourage parents to look at all the websites your kids are going to, block inappropriate websites, make sure their friends online are real friends and randomly look at their chat interactions. 

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