While the definitions of cyberbullying, sometimes called online bullying, vary from source to source, most definitions reflect:
Cyberbullying is bullying – unwanted, repeated, aggressive, negative behavior – that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, tablets, and computers. Cyberbullying can happen over email, through texting, on social media, while gaming, on instant messaging, and through photo sharing.
Cyberbullying can be anonymous, which can sometimes make it even worse. It also has a wider audience and can spread quickly. Finally, targets of cyberbullying often feel like they can’t escape the bullying. If someone is bullying you at school, it’s over when you leave for the day. But cyberbullying can follow you home and continue all night.
Imagine a classmate posts a photo of themselves online. Someone else makes a mean, mocking comment about the photo. Soon, that photo has been shared, liked, reposted—even made into a meme. Thousands of people have seen it, even people the person being targeted doesn’t know. That’s why cyberbullying can be extra hurtful: it’s public, it spreads quickly, and it’s 24/7.
Cyberbullying is bullying—unwanted, repeated, aggressive, negative behavior—that takes place using digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can happen anywhere online, including over email, through texting, on social media, while gaming, on instant messaging, and through photo sharing.
While all bullying is characterized by intentional, often repetitive, hurtful behavior toward another person or group, there are distinguishing elements when it happens online or via smartphone, which include:
Note: The one advantage to “permanence” is that online bullying does leave tangible evidence. Unlike physical or emotional bullying, online bullying leaves a digital footprint; the words, images, or videos posted can be documented through screenshots or saving URLs and texts, which can be useful.
If you see someone being bullied online, here’s what you can do:
Show support for the individual(s) being bullied.
Document and report
Every state has a bullying prevention law or policy that helps districts and schools address bullying. Many of these laws and policies require that schools address cyberbullying in their district policy. Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment. If a child experiences cyberbullying, check the school’s bullying prevention policy to learn more about the role the school can play in helping youth address the issue.
State Law and Policy
Why can cyberbullying sometimes be more damaging than traditional bullying?
At what age should there be a “cyberbullying conversation” with youth?
True or False: Cyberbullying only happens on social media.
Schools aren’t required to address cyberbullying that happens outside of school hours.
True or False: Any information young people put online or on their phone can be easily shared, copied, and pasted in other places.
True or False: Many social media sites offer some sort of system to report bullying content.
True or False: If youth are being bullied online, they should immediately delete all of the bullying messages and posts.
True or False: The bullying that happens online is less damaging than traditional bullying.
True or False: Most cyberbullying happens outside the view of adults.
True or False: There are additional protections for students of protected classes, including students with disabilities.
Students provide their insights about how to address and prevent cyberbullying.
The “I Care Because” section features statements from individuals around the world, sharing why they care about bullying prevention. In this episode teens read and respond to a statements about cyberbullying, sharing their insight and advice.
Age 13 is when teens are typically able to sign up for many social media accounts. But does cyberbullying only start at age 13 when teens start getting these accounts? In this video we ask kids about this question and about all things cyberbullying. Check out their amazing responses.
The dynamics of using technology to hurt, harm or humiliate another individual or group are examined in this video.
In this video, are tips on how to address and prevent cyberbullying, and what to do if you see it happening online.