Highster Mobile Blog

‘Spilling the Tea’: A Cyberbullying Tactic

spilling the tea cyberbullying

Spilling the tea is not something new. Akin to ‘spill the beans’ or ‘spill your guts’, spilling tea refers to the act of sharing juicy stories, be them true or not, among friends and other social circles. It’s a favorite pastime among rumor-mongers, a race to be the first to know, to be in the know. In mouth-to-ear gossip, the rumor mill has a short leash, and its accuracy can be challenged over time, with every outlet possibly making its own version to share. 

Spilling the tea online, however, is a whole different beast. A rumor posted online has a boundless breadth and an infinite number of eyes and ears who are all but ready and willing to spread the hottest take. And it is this issue that’s currently plaguing middle schools across the country.

A Different Kind of Cyberbullying

Running rampant on Instagram, anonymous accounts – typically the school’s name with the word ‘tea’ added on – are popping up and spreading rumors and stories about its student community.  A tell-all account that spills information on students: from who’s dating and who’s cheating on who, to who’s got weed in their bags. Basically, all the juicy bits on your friends, classmates, or schoolmates are readily available to anyone willing to drop by the ‘tea accounts’. 

Aside from daily gossip, these accounts also post cyberbullying staples like a photo mocking a student’s hair or clothes, or spreading rumors about their sexual orientation. In addition, these accounts are not on a one-per-school monopoly. Reports have indicated that multiple accounts cater to a single school, with data showing one school dealing with 30 of these accounts. One can only imagine how far a single gossip, rumor, or cyberbully attack can go when posted and multiplied on all these accounts. 

Another cause for concern stemming from these accounts are the posting of challenges, including school vandalism and promoting fights. Instances in slime schools have already occurred that had students participating in vandalizing bathrooms as a challenge, and others getting into quarrels that are being filmed and posted online. Without question, this ‘Spilling the Tea’ trend is definitely another form of cyberbullying.

Why Is This Happening?

An investigation into this behavior had the pandemic lockdown and class suspensions as a factor that has led to the rampant rise of these tea spilling accounts. With their ability to get together put on hold with school closures last year, kids are just now again trying to reclaim their place as leaders or as the popular kid. And some of them are resorting to cyberbullying to get a leg up on the competition.

Adult Action

This latest form of cyberbullying has not only the students riled up, but their parents are up in arms, pleading to the school administrators to shut down the accounts. They may be barking up the wrong tree though as these school officials have no authority to shut down Instagram accounts. Since these are anonymous accounts, it is difficult to determine the account creator and their administrators. If ever they are noticed by authorities, these account managers are quick to counteract. Once a post or account has been reported by a parent or school authority, these are quickly taken down or deleted, and a new one will pop out of the woodworks – in true Whack-a-Mole fashion. 

Some school district heads have set up text-and-call hotlines where people can report anonymously whenever they feel unsafe. Information shows that most of the reports to these hotlines are harassment and cyberbullying-related.

Law enforcement intervention has been mentioned as a possible way to pin down the creators, however, an IP address trace will only be approved if there is a credible threat to student safety. Aside from isolated cases of vandalism and fighting, these accounts mostly contain gossip and rumors – simply, they are just mean, not criminal. This leaves the law with their hands tied and no cause for action to track down the accounts.

Platform of Choice

instagram cyberbullying

While gossip and rumors are also spread on other social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat, Instagram is the platform of choice of spill the tea account creators. Part of this is due to the differences in the structure of these apps. On Instagram, users can directly message the account holder, who can then post the information, which remains online as long as the account remains active. On Snapchat, messages disappear quickly so information there does not have long shelf lives. TikTok’s posts are video-based, so anonymity is automatically an issue here.

Instagram’s Response

Instagram, on their part, is proactive in their fight against bullying, taking down reported accounts that they verify are perpetuating these acts. The social media giant, however, isn’t resting on its laurels, claiming to have developed industry-leading tools to stop this kind of behavior and help people protect themselves. Since this behavior is also happening on other platforms like TikTok and Snapchat, Instagram has also called for a new industry body to create standards for age-appropriate content, along with age verification and parental controls. 

Who is Responsible?

While parents continue to ask school officials to step in, and the latter doing everything their power allows them to, the digital age-old question resurfaces: Who is responsible for students’ online social lives?

Many industry experts claim that this responsibility falls onto the parents, as they are still the primary gatekeepers of their children’s internet experience. While the immediate suggestion is to inform the proper authorities whenever there is suspicion of cyberbullying activity, parents are advised to keep a close eye on the internet activities of their kids and teens to avoid anything untoward happening to them. 

Highster Mobile is a phone monitoring app that can greatly aid in checking the online activities of their kids, especially their vulnerable teens. This top-rated mobile monitoring software offers parents great flexibility by providing multiple options to keep track of children’s phone or tablet data. Everything from email and browsing history to social media posts, SMS messages, and call logs can be kept track of using Highster Mobile. Location can also be determined via GPS, making sure your children are safe and secured. 

In this day and age, we must do what we can to keep our children. Cyberbullying is a real and dangerous threat to kids and teens. The effects can be wide-ranging: from various mental health issues to self-harm. Parents, authority figures, and even social media companies must work hand in hand to ensure that the digital world is a secure environment for future generations.

Recent Article: 10 Types of Cyberbullying Faced Today