Cyberbullying is using technology to bully someone. It happens when someone is deliberately and repeatedly hurt or embarrassed via electronic means, such as the internet or a mobile phone. It is common, especially among children and teenagers.
Cyberbullying can include teasing, name calling, threats, nasty comments, put-downs and rumours. In fact, it can involve anything intended to embarrass, upset, scare or exclude the person being bullied.
Cyberbullies often use photos and videos as well as words.
They might work in secret, keeping their identity hidden. However, sometimes cyberbullies work together in targeting their victim by various electronic means, including:
- email, text and instant messaging services
- online chat rooms and discussion groups
- social media, such as Twitter and Facebook
- photo-sharing and video-sharing applications
- blogs and websites
Cyberbullying can be severe and prolonged and you might have no idea who is behind it. Because it relies on the internet and mobile phones, cyberbullying can occur anywhere, including in your home.
What are the signs of cyberbullying?
You may be the target of cyberbullying if:
- you receive hurtful text messages, whether it’s from someone you know or someone you don’t know
- nasty, threatening or rude messages about you appear on social networking sites and internet forums
- photos and videos intended to hurt or embarrass you are sent either to you or to others
- rumours about you are spread via emails, text messages or on social networking sites
- people use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to hurt or humiliate you
- someone attempts to prevent you from communicating with other people
- your passwords are stolen, or someone hacks into your accounts and changes information
- someone poses as you, or posts messages or status updates from your accounts
What are the effects of cyberbullying?
Victims of cyberbullying can feel:
- frightened, unsafe or confused
- guilty or ashamed
- anxious, stressed or angry
- sad, depressed or embarrassed
- hopeless, as though there is nothing they can do about the situation
- alone, like there is no one to help
- different from everyone else and excluded
- rejected by friends or other people
Children might seem moodier than usual, avoid school and be jumpy around electronic devices. They might drop out of social activities.
How can I deal with or avoid cyberbullying?
Nobody deserves to be bullied. Tips on how you can deal with cyberbullying include:
- calling the police on triple zero (000) if you feel unsafe
- calling Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 for help and advice
- talking to someone you trust – a relative, a school counsellor, a friend, or a workmate
- ignoring it and not responding
- ‘blocking’ or ‘unfriending’ the bully and changing your privacy settings
- sharing your login details only with people you trust
- keeping the bully’s mobile phone messages, and emails or social networking conversations as you might need it for evidence
- reporting it
Do not forward or share it. It’s better to leave the group or conversation and not to take part in it.
Where can I find out more?
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: March 2020