The Impact of COVID-19 on Cyber-victimization Experiences Among Middle School Students

Main Article Content

Jessica Baltierra
Sarah Aronson
Madisyn Welsh


Adolescents’ frequent use of social media and other forms of electronic communication has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and adolescents are using these platforms forschoolwork and socialization. Researchers have yet to explore a possible consequence of thisincreased usage: an increase in cyber-victimization among adolescents. To date, most researchhas examined adolescent cyber-victimization in international spaces during the pandemic, but notas much research has been conducted in the United States. Additionally, it is nearly impossible tofind research that focuses on cyber-victimization rates in the United States before and during theCOVID-19 pandemic, which is what this research aims to address.

Participants were two cohorts of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students from an urban middleschool. Both cohorts’ self-reported rates of cyber-victimization were examined before (springand fall 2019, early spring 2020) and during the pandemic (spring of 2021). Results indicated alarge number of adolescents experienced cyber-victimization, but these rates were similar beforethe pandemic to current rates of cyber-victimization. This research aims to inform those workingand living with adolescents of the risks associated with excessive social media use, includingexperiencing cyber-victimization. These results can be used to support students who haveexperienced cyber-victimization before and during the pandemic, and to help practitionersstrategize ways to inform and enhance future prevention programs. It is crucial to understand the consequences of this digital world during a global pandemic, and future researchers shouldconsider the associations between cyber-victimization and adolescent mental health concerns.

Keywords: cyber-victimization, middle school, COVID-19 pandemic, social media

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Research-Based Poster Presentations
Author Biographies

Jessica Baltierra

About the Author: Jessica Baltierra is a junior majoring in Social Work and minoring in
Psychology. She plans to graduate in December 2022. She is interested in research involving the
foster care system, child welfare, and child abuse and neglect.

Sarah Aronson

About the Author: Sarah Aronson anticipates graduating in Spring, 2022. Her major is Social Work, with a minor in Anthropology. Her research interests revolve around children and schools

Madisyn Welsh

About the Author: Madisyn Welsh is a Senior majoring in Social Work with a minor in Criminology, Law, and
Society, graduating in May 2022. Her research interests include violence prevention, criminal
justice, and juvenile social-emotional well-being. Specifically, she is interested in learning more
about the experiences of juveniles within the criminal justice system as well as programming
available for adolescents and families affected by the criminal justice system.