What Is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to send mean, threatening, or embarrassing messages to or about another person. It might be in a text, e-mail, message, or in a post online. 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 get away from the bullying. If someone is bullying you at school, when you leave for the day it’s over. 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 it. Soon, that photo has been shared, liked, reposted – even made into a meme. Thousands of people have seen it – even people the target doesn’t know. That’s why cyberbullying can be extra hurtful: it’s public, it spreads quickly, and it’s 24/7.
What can you do about it?
Here are some tips to protect yourself from cyberbullying, and to prevent yourself from bullying others:
- Never share your passwords, private photos, or personal data (such as address or phone number) online, not even with friends.
- Think before you post. If you’re upset, sad, or angry, wait to post or respond. Give yourself some time to cool down, so you don’t do something that you can’t take back.
- Never publicly reveal anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone knowing. Remember when you share something online, it can be shared with anyone, including your parents and teachers.
- When you make comments about someone else, imagine how you would feel if someone said that about you.
If It Happens To You
If you’re being cyberbullied, here’s what you can do:
- Tell your parents or another trusted adult. Believe it or not, they can help you. You don’t have to do this alone!
- Save everything – emails, messages, posts, screenshots. Don’t delete until you have a copy. Print them out or save them on our computer or phone.
- Talk to someone at your school – a teacher, counselor, coach, or principal.
- Report harassing comments, fake profiles, or inappropriate photos. Social media sites have ways of reporting harassing content. You have a right to feel safe in these spaces.
If You See It Happen
If you see someone being bullied online, here’s what you can do:
- Don’t participate. Don’t “like” or share posts that are bullying someone. Although you may feel pressure to join in if a lot of other people are, you can make your own choice not to contribute to the situation.
- Report it. Even if content isn’t targeting you, you can still report it to the site, or any adult that you trust.
- Respond with positive support. If you feel comfortable, and if it’s safe for you, post a comment showing solidarity with the target. Imagine what a difference one nice comment among a bunch of mean ones could make.
- Reach out to the person being bullied. Send them a private message letting them know that you don’t agree with what’s happening, that they don’t deserve to be treated like that, and that they’re not alone.
Video: Teen Talk on Cyberbullying