Play Nice! How to Promote Digital Inclusion and Stop Cyberbullying

Technological advancements have provided educators with a number of tools and opportunities they didn’t have five, 10, or 50 years ago. With live video streaming, smartboards, and dozens of other gadgets and lower-cost technology, educators are now able to reach a larger audience, with less funding, from nearly anywhere in the world.

Although these innovations give teachers and professors many more opportunities and creative teaching methods, they also bring new issues. From cyberbullying to student disengagement, online classrooms present educators with problems not found in traditional classrooms.

It’s important that 21st century educators are prepared to solve these problems and are poised to take on other issues that arise as classroom technology continues to improve.

Tech Benefits in the Classroom

Modern educators are becoming increasingly approving of technology use in the classroom. A recent survey from digital education company TES Global found that 84% of the 1,000 kindergarten through high school teachers asked have already incorporated some form of technology into their teaching. Teachers are ready to use even more technology in the classroom after already utilizing tablets, laptops, game-based learning, and virtual reality headsets.

More tech in the classroom isn’t simply a trendy teaching method, however; it may provide students with special needs or disabilities a better chance to thrive. According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education’s web resource Learn NC, students who have learning disabilities may particularly benefit from increased tech in their classrooms.

Learn NC points to the example of a student who has dyslexia. If that student has a tech-based tool that enables them to listen to a reading or provides a visual support with the book, he or she may be able to keep pace with peers more easily. These “audio, visual, or concept-mapping supports” are important for teachers, too. Not only do they help students learn better, but they may allow people to perform to the best of their ability on important assessments.

More technology in the classroom can also benefit advanced students. New devices and software can help teachers challenge gifted students individually. This keeps gifted students engaged while other students learn at their own paces.

“In a classroom where gifted learners, learners with learning disabilities, and learners with other special needs are all challenged at appropriate levels at the same time, students are more likely to be engaged in learning activities and less likely to be engaged in inappropriate behaviors,” Learn NC’s Bobby Hobgood, ED.D. and Lauren Ormsby explained. Learn NC also notes that technology can help increase the rate of material covered for all students.

New Opportunities, New Dangers

For teachers who incorporate more of these tools into their classrooms and educators who teach online, technology can also present new problems. As students interact more through digital media, the risk of cyberbullying also increases.

Cyberbullying has a broad definition encompassing all bullying that takes place electronically, whether through text and email or on websites and social media. Aside from direct bullying, cyberbullying can take the form of fake social media profiles, nonconsensual photo sharing, and online rumors.

According to Cyberbullying Research Center’s 2015 survey of 15,000 middle and high school students, nearly 26% of all students have experienced at least some form of cyberbullying in their lifetimes. Many were victims of cyberbullying in just the 30 days prior to the survey.

Although it takes place online, cyberbullying has very real life consequence. This issue has been tied to suicidal actions, antisocial behavior, low self-esteem, anger, substance abuse, school delinquency, and emotional issues, among others. The risk for cyberbullying can increase significantly with the increased use of web-enabled devices, such as tablets and laptops, or online learning, which requires digital student interaction.

As an educator, it’s important to learn the warning signs and how to be vigilant about cyberbullying. Although technology may have helped create this problem, more of it might actually be the solution. Many schools are turning to new apps and software that help students report cyberbullies and prevent them in the first place. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released an app called “KnowBullying” that helps parents and teachers recognize cyberbullying.

In addition, Etowah City Schools, for instance, are now using the STOPit app to allow students to anonymously report any cyberbullying that happens inside the classroom, Tennessee’s The Daily Post-Athenian reported.

The school’s principal is the only one with access to the information that is submitted, allowing students confidence in the security of the app and what they report. Through the app, students can secretly and securely report photos, messages, and screenshots of the cyberbullying they’re experiencing. The app allows the school system some oversight in the use of classroom technology.

Other schools that have implemented the STOPit app have noticed fewer reports of cyberbullying, saying that the accountability that the app provides reduced the problem at the start, according to CBS News. School officials have also noted that this app empowers students and gives them a real weapon against cyberbullying.

Other students are turning to social media platforms that disallows cyberbullying in the first place, CBS News reported. Some students are using WeHeartIt, a photo-sharing social media platform that doesn’t provide a comment section for cyberbullying to arise.

Apps like STOPit and other new technology provide teachers and school administrators with a chance to fight against cyberbullying and improve the learning environment. This way, educators can take advantage of the benefits of technology-related coursework and online interaction without the concern of abuse.


  1. Meagan Lucas

    May 24, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I believe as long as teachers are engaged with their students when they are using the technology within the classroom that that will eliminate almost all of the bullying. I love the thought of using technology in the classroom. I think students have such a great opportunity to take their learning to so many depths. I can not wait to have my own classroom to implement technology.

  2. Carrie

    May 25, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    We live in an ever changing world of technology in the 21st century. It is imperative that technology be incorporated in the curriculum to adequately prepare our students for the jobs they will possess in the future (which do not even exist yet). However, you are correct, with new technology comes new dangers. It is so important that we teach our students how to be good digital citizens, and to beware of the dangers that lurk! They need to know how to handle certain situations, so that when they are not being monitored (such as in some homes), they will know how to react.

  3. Jessica V

    May 26, 2016 at 7:35 am

    I believe with the increased integration of technology into today’s classrooms this an essential topic worth discussing! As beneficial to the learning process as technology can be, it has the potential to be abused if not used properly. I usually associate cyber bullying with depression and suicide based on what is most often portrayed in the media but your article was very informative in describing the depth of impact such bullying can have on its victims.

    Thank you for including information and resources on the various options for preventing and resolving cyber bullying within the classroom. The more tools we have available to us the better prepared we will be to prevent this issue within our own classroom.

  4. Mackenzie M

    May 27, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I believe the incorporation of technology into the classroom creates exciting new opportunities for students. Unfortunately, with all great advancements there are issues that arise. If students can be diligent on using the applications to report bullying this should help teachers prepare for problems as well as prevent future altercations. All forms of bullying can be destructive for students but the resources provided in this article can hopefully benefit the teachers and students. Technology is a very valuable tool in the classroom and cyber bullying can be a cause to not incorporate it. Teaching students about cyber bullying and the negative effects it can have on students is an important task for teachers to cover; doing so will hopefully prevent issues from arising.

  5. Olivia McCutcheon

    May 29, 2016 at 12:50 am

    I just recently watched the movie Cyberbully from ABC Family on Netflix and it just tugged at my heart strings. As a future teacher, I am looking for new ways to be able to stop cyber bullying in its tracks. I was bullied the traditional way, but when I got home it was over. Cyberbullying is never ending and it follows students more intensely than it ever did without the Internet. There are so many opportunities that are opened when classes are able to utilize global collaboration, but there are dangers just like you said. The STOPit app is an amazing new tool, and I believe apps and technology like it can help students become better digital citizens. In the movie Cyberbully, the girl went to meetings where other victims were discussing their experiences and the leader told them how they can stop it themselves by using certain tools such as apps like STOPit and even talking to help technicians to shut down certain harmful webpages. The availability of resources given to students and even teachers to help stop cyber bullying will hopefully put the harmful act in the past.

  6. Meaghan Britton

    May 29, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I believe that if teachers set boundaries and consequences that their students will know that cyberbullying is a big NO. If a teacher supervises his/her students closely while they are using the Internet then I believe there will be less situations of cyberbullying. When I get my own classroom, I hope I get to use Internet and technology in my class lessons as much as possible. I believe that technology and the Internet allows teachers to enhance students’ education. I believe that showing students all the different ways that they can learn material will help students stay engaged and that students will get more out of the lesson.

  7. Lindsey Mayhall

    May 29, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I think this article does an excellent job bringing out many benefits technology can have in the classroom. The technology has to monitored to make sure it is used properly. Technology should be used responsibly in the classroom and beyond as students use technology to make global collaborations outside the walls of their classroom.