Cyberbullying among kids related to the election is a growing problem right now. And with how divisive things are, there are concerns this won't be going away after the polls close next week.
“This is a very, very polarizing and almost even more in front of kids’ faces, election than any other time in history,” said Titania Jordan with Bark Technologies.
Bark Technologies currently monitors more than 5 million kids online at home. Its monitoring shows from mid-August to the end of September, there was a 25% increase in bullying overall from the beginning of July. And there was a 220% increase in severe bullying.
You'd expect to see this with the start of the school year, but the numbers show this is about a 50% increase from what Bark typically sees over this period.
They say the feedback they've received from parents supports the increase with a direct tie-in to election-related cyberbullying.
“It’s not something that she gets to judge over or bully over or make people feel bad about,” said Kathryn Noble, whose daughter was impacted by cyberbullying. “That's not acceptable at any age but especially at 13.”
Noble says her 13-year-old daughter recently blocked one of her friends on social media over them supporting a different candidate than her.
Bark found around 45% of what kids are sharing is memes about the two candidates. They've found this month that messages including the word “Trump” are being flagged more frequently for depression, hate speech and weapons.
Messages including the word "Biden" are being flagged more frequently for cyberbullying, because they include disparaging or belittling language.
“They're being bullied even because of maybe something their parents have said or something their family says,” said Matt McKee at Bark Technologies. “Hey, this is where we stand right now and because of that, kids are being brought into those situations.”
As far as addressing this cyberbullying, the tech experts we talked with say asking your kids to teach you about a certain app they are using will give you more insight into what's happening earlier.
Things to watch for include changes in sleep patterns or behavior. They also say now is really the time to encourage empathy with your kids.