What is cyber-bullying?

Cyber bullying (also called 'online bullying') is when a person or a group of people uses the internet, email, online games or any other kind of digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else. There are lots of different ways that someone can experience bullying through the internet or mobile phones. Some of them are really subtle, so it might be difficult to realise what is happening. 21% of 8 to 11 year olds have been deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group through the use of mobile phone or the internet and 28% of 11 – to 16 year olds.

Text messages

Sending abusive, nasty or threatening text messages to someone is a type of bullying. This could include sharing those texts with other people who might join in the bullying.


Sexting is when someone takes a sexually explicit picture or video of themselves and then sends it to someone else. Sometimes people who are trying to bully someone may ask for these kinds of images so they can send them on to other people


Sending abusive emails is a type of bullying. Sometimes those emails might be shared with other people who could join in the bullying. Sending computer viruses or hurtful videos and pictures by email is also online bullying.

Instant messaging (IM) and chat rooms

Sometimes people might get nasty messages when they are using instant messaging or chat rooms. Sending those types of messages using someone else’s account without their permission is also online bullying.

Social networking sites

Social networks can be used in lots of different ways to bully someone

Online gaming

Being abusive towards someone or harassing them on an online multi-player gaming site is also a kind of online bullying.

Abusing personal information

Sometimes people involved in bullying might post someone else's photos or personal information without that person's permission. This could include pretending to be someone else and writing fake comments or blogs.

Why Cyberbullying is Different

  • Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.       
  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Misuse alcohol and drugs
  • Play Truant from school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Be unwilling to attend school or discuss school.
  • Receive poor grades (or a negative change in grades)
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems

Useful advice for parents/careers to help them stop cyber-bullying

  • Offer reassurance and support. Children may be in need of emotional support or feel like they have nowhere to turn. It is rare that cyberbullying is only taking place online and is often someone the child knows through school or a group they attend. Their school should have policies and procedures for dealing with cyberbullying.
  • Tell the child that if they are being bullied to always keep the evidence. Whether it’s a text message or email, tell them not to reply to the bully or delete the comments. Ask the child if they know the bully or where the messages are coming from. Often it is someone within the school environment and can be dealt with quickly and effectively with assistance from the school.
  • Block the bullies. If someone is bullying a child on a social networking or chat site encourage them to block or delete the individual so that they can’t be contacted by them anymore.
  • Report any bullying content to the website it’s hosted on.
  • There are several website that provide advice on dealing with cyber-bullying Thinkuknow - home and Cyber bullying (online bullying) | Bullying | Explore | ChildLine