Cyberbullying is when a person or people use mobile phones, social networks, emails, gaming or any digital technology to threaten, tease or humiliate someone else.
What is cyberbullying?
Why does it happen?
People usually bully because they are going through a tough time themselves. They may take out their problems on others because it’s the only way they know how to get control of their own difficult feelings – but this is always at someone else’s expense. When bullies are struggling themselves, they also need help and support. Cyberbullies are doing the same thing online. In fact, going online can make it even easier to bully because the bully, doing it through a computer, can have a feeling of safe distance that lets them say and do things they probably wouldn’t do face to face. They are also protected from seeing how hurt it makes the other person feel.
How does it feel?
Cyberbullying can be extremely upsetting and scary to the person being bullied. Being bullied can cause all sorts of emotions from feeling lonely, angry, sad and anxious to feeling confused or worthless. Because the bullying is happening on your phone, tablet or computer cyberbullying can feel like a complete invasion as it can happen even when you’re in a safe place like your bedroom. Being bullied can cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally do such as hurting themselves or running away because they’re scared or don’t know how to stop it.
How to deal with cyberbullying
No-one has the right to make you feel threatened or upset, here are some tips for taking action and dealing with it -
- Don’t reply to upsetting or hurtful messages, no matter how angry they make you feel. Try and block them on social media and on your phone if possible. Check social media/phone provider’s help pages for how to do this.
- Keep a log of any messages or texts, take screenshots and don’t delete anything. This will help when explaining what’s happening to you.
- You don’t have to deal with the bullying on your own, talk to an adult you trust – a parent or guardian, a teacher, or counsellor.
- If the bullying is happening on a website, social media site or online game, report it. Most sites and services have advice on how to do this in their online help centre.
- Stay in control of your information, check privacy settings and keep your details private.
- Remember there are resources online with support, advice and practical help on cyberbullying.
- The worst thing a bully can do is get inside your head. Don’t talk to yourself with the voice of a bully, and don’t believe what bullies say about you, that’s how they win. Talk over your feelings with someone and don’t let the bullies get you down.
Am I a cyberbully?
Unfortunately it’s quite easy to get drawn into something that seems like a joke but can make someone else feel embarrassed, left out or humiliated. ‘Liking’ something negative about someone or sharing embarrassing photos and videos can become a way to gang up on someone else. If in doubt, check it out. Send that person a private message and ask them if they feel okay about something. If they don’t, take it down.
If you’ve done something like this then think about how it would make you feel if it happened to you. We all make mistakes but it’s important to learn from them – so delete negative posts or comments and apologise. And next time you post, think about how it could make someone else feel.
For information about organisations which can offer more advice on a range of issues, check out the advice helplines page.
Advice for parents about cyberbullying, from Internet Matters
Check out more top tips for staying safe online.