What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that takes place online, or using digital devices such as smartphones or tablets.
How cyberbullying occurs
Cyberbullying that is instigated by peers largely takes place on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook following a fall out or as a way to draw negative attention to someone. Young people also face cyberbullying from people they’ve never even met in person on forums, chatrooms and open social media profiles, which is why it is important to keep your personal details and social media profiles private.
How it makes your child feel
Although cyberbullying is a form of bullying, the effects can differ greatly from face-to-face bullying. When you are bullied online, particularly in situations where many people can see it happening, it’s extremely humiliating. Often onlookers are waiting to see how you’ll respond, and sometimes it can be hurtful just to see that no one is stepping in to stand up for or support you.
Cyberbullying can occur any time, any place - when your child’s on holiday, when playing with friends, when doing homework. So they may feel trapped in the sense that they’re unable to escape the abuse. In addition to the emotions your child may be feeling after being bullied, they have the added pressure of knowing that any videos, pictures or comments posted about them may be permanent. Once something is posted online, it can be visible for you and others to see, years down the line.
What to do if your child is being cyberbullied
- Talk to them about it if you spot any warning signs that they may be being bullied. Try and be non-judgmental and understanding, then offer your advice and support
- Get evidence of the bullying. Screen shots are an effective way of capturing evidence so that it can be shown to others when needed
- Block the person bullying them so that your child and the cyberbully aren’t able to communicate with each other
- Report cyberbullies to the social networks, web masters or admins themselves so they can step in to try and rectify the situation
- Ignore cyberbullies instead of retaliating where possible. As with all bullying, the bullies usually want to get a reaction out of you
- Privacy is key when it comes to protecting yourself from anonymous cyberstalkers or trolls. Encourage your child to switch their privacy settings to share content only with their “friends”
- Escalate to your child’s school or the police for support if the situation is serious and you notice that your child is getting upset, being threatened or you’re seeing signs of self-harm
Our cyberbullying factsheet features all of the information on this page, plus our jargon buster and links to useful websites.