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Community says online issues from are escalating into real life

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Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - More than two-thirds of kids over 12 have a smartphone. Social media apps kept kids entertained and informed, but some parents worried there was a dark side to social media that was affecting life off the screen.

“One of my children came home and was like,’’ I don’t know why they’re messing with me.” It’s hard for teenagers to ignore when someone is saying something about them or anything because they feel like they have to hold up to their reputation,” Mother of two Peoria Public Schools students Shawanda King said.

Students at PPS said bullying online lead to real life fights and sometimes it was not confined to one school.

“[Someone from] Another school came down here to fight one of our students,” High School Senior Ariahna Bryant said. “Over social media beef.”

PPS Director of Social Emotional Learning Dr. Derrick Booth said schools had seen an increase in bullying and fighting that started online.

“When a situation is one social media, whether it’s a video, a picture or post, it can do some harm to an individual,” Booth said. “It can cause issues with individuals having positive peer relationships because no one wants to be attached to someone that’s being made fun of.”

One national group tried to minimize the negative effects of social media by asking parents to pledge to wait until eighth grade to give their kids a smartphone.

‘Wait until 8th’ believed if it became normal to get a smartphone later than children won’t feel pressure young to get on one and that could result in less time on social media.

Peoria County Sheriff said social media has had dire consequences for the city’s youth.

“We’ve lost children that have unfortunately taken their lives due to the bullying,” Asbell said.

For him - the solution isn’t just holding off on access to social media but intervention before it escalates.

“You’re better off -being involved- having those talks with your kids having expectations when there is wrongdoing there is a consequence,” Asbell said.

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