BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Ten years ago today, 26 people were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. 20 of which were first graders aged 6 to 7 years old.

The senseless tragedy is just one of many school shootings in the United States that’s changed the way schools address mental health and school safety.

The Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting is the deadliest mass shooting at an elementary school in U.S. history. Earlier this year, a near repeat; this time at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas was a close second with 22 victims tragically losing their lives.

Experts say in our enhanced digital age and reliance on social media, the problem has gotten worse.

“Just as much as guns, I would say social media and our lack of community are probably what I consider to be the leading causes of these,” said political theory professor at Illinois State University, Julie Webber.

Webber said that even though it’s been a decade, many of the impacts from that tragic day still resonate today.

“I think it’s gotten worse in some ways, it was definitely muted by the pandemic,” Webber said.

Webber has published multiple books on the topic of “the virtual” and the impact or role it plays in mass shooting incidents.

“The rise of social media has replaced any form of what in political theory we’d call the social,” Webber said.

Webber said much like in Newtown, the killers are usually outcasts from society with little to no social life outside of a virtual world. She said in some instances they use the internet as a way to escape reality or as a way to cope.

“For people who are already mentally fragile this is not conducive to them finding a way to feel like they fit into what we call society,” Webber said.

With many internet sites using algorithms and tracking user interests, Webber said it can create a dark cycle for someone having thoughts about committing a serious massacre.

“Whatever they’re looking up online to sort of therapeutically deal with themselves and who they are, they keep being reminded of these things,” Webber said.

Since Newtown, local schools have put a heavy focus on spotting red flags in their students.

“Really any threat is considered a serious threat and I would say administrators should stop what they’re doing an immediate investigation,” said Lisa Taylor, the superintendent of Heyworth Schools.

Taylor said a threat can be as simple as a note written by one classmate and handed to another or a student saying something in anger but not acting on it.

“Even when it’s unfounded, we have to go through a lot of educating with the child about what is appropriate to say and do and how you communicate if you were just frustrated,” Taylor said.

At Heyworth, Taylor said school shooter training has become more frequent and staff are even being quizzed quarterly on what to do if a Newtown-like tragedy took place.

“We’ve already had an active shooter drill with our local police department and he comes in and actually fires blanks and our staff barricades doors and he sees how many doors he can get through,” Taylor said.

At all Heyworth schools, entrances are locked at all times and a key fob is required for entry. Taylor said the district will also be introducing a video doorbell like Ring for access.