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Teens and social media: What’s true, what hurts and what stays around forever

Fordson High School senior Leanne Nasser uses social media. (Courtesy of Leanne Nasser)
Fordson High School senior Leanne Nasser uses social media. (Courtesy of Leanne Nasser)

When it comes to social media, teens know the terrain. But as the digital landscape has expanded, so has online bullying.

Leanne Nasser is a senior at Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan, and An’Davantae Bussey is a senior at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. Both say that bullies can hide behind screens to send hateful messages they wouldn’t say in real life, face to face.

“When you don’t have to see someone’s face, and when you don’t have to be confronted with that actual person, it’s a lot easier to say what we call ‘out of pocket’ things,” Bussey says.

Seniors An’Davantae Bussey and Leanne Nasser talk cyberbullying

An’Davantae Bussey: “When I was in middle school, I was an athlete. I’ve always been an athlete, but when I was younger, I wasn’t as good as I am today. So I remember one time after a game just getting a lot of criticism from a lot of my peers that I thought were my friends.

“That negativity and the things that were being said to me, it caused me to be anxious and it caused me to not feel comfortable as I was attending school because they would say these things and then it was so different when I would see them in person.”

Leanne Nasser: “I personally wasn’t a victim of that big of cyberbullying, but I had a friend who was. It’s pretty hard being a girl because people always find ways to nit pick, you’re not being the perfect standard.

“And I got to see how that left a toll on her, and I was mentally right there for her. I can tell she was not doing well and these people that were leaving comments against her appearance, picking (at] what she did, what she said, they never said it in person. They all said it over Snapchat or Instagram.”

Hafsa Quraishi produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Catherine Welch. Welch adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.