March 23, 2020

Empty schools from COVID-19 increase potential for cyberbullying, sextortion

WHAT: COVID-19 and social distancing have pulled children and teenagers out of the classroom and in front of computers, tablets and smart phones even more. Those opportunities are resulting in more potential interaction via various kinds of social media.

EXPERT: Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar is an associate professor of computer and information technology in the Purdue (University) Polytechnic Institute. She studies the characteristics and factors associated with cyberdeviance, including cyberbullying and online enticement. She can speak to how the increased juvenile presence will impact online behavior for children and parents.

seigfried-spellar-k20 Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar. (Purdue University photo) Download image

QUOTE:  “Increased internet and social media use as a result of COVID-19 will make youth a target for cybervictimization, including cyberbullying, sextortion and solicitation. Kids are usually not forthcoming with issues of cyberbullying because they’re afraid of losing their technology. Some teens would rather be cyberbullied than have their Facebook page or Instagram account shut down.”


  • A fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and member of the American Psychological Association.


Writer: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084,

Source: Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar,

Note to Journalists: A photo of Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar, as well as a stock photo, are available on Google Drive. She is available for Skype interviews.

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