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Survey: Students used school digital devices in 47 bullying cases

Digital devices distributed to elementary and junior high school students across the nation have been involved in at least 47 bullying cases in 25 municipalities since the 2020 academic year, a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun found.

The survey also revealed 36 cases of unauthorized access using other children’s IDs and passwords in 23 municipalities. Schools are struggling with the inappropriate use of devices intended for learning.

The survey was conducted online between February and April, covering 109 municipalities, including government-designated cities, prefectural capitals, core cities and Tokyo’s 23 wards, with 97 of them — or 89% — responding.

Twenty-five municipalities in 12 prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka, Aichi and Saitama said there had been bullying using the devices after they were introduced, with 47 cases confirmed. At a junior high school in the Kansai region, three students used document sharing software to write bad things about other students by setting up a function that made their posts invisible to their homeroom teacher.

As for unauthorized access, 23 municipalities in 10 prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka said there were such cases as students logging in to other children’s devices. In one instance at a Tokyo elementary school, a student stole their friend’s ID and password, accessed a terminal pretending to be the friend and drew a picture of poop on a classroom worksheet. At a public junior high school in the Kansai region, students used others’ devices to log in and access adult websites.

When asked how the children obtained the others’ passwords, the municipalities said they either peeked, guessed from attendance numbers or asked directly.

A Tokyo municipal official said in the questionnaire, “Children have more knowledge of the devices’ functions and software than teachers.”

The survey also learned that 37 municipalities collected the activity history of students’ devices to be ready to conduct investigations in the event of trouble.

A junior high school in the Chugoku region reprimanded a student after confirming abusive comments in their device’s history.