Cyberbullying is when one person or a group of people aim to threaten, tease or embarrass someone else by using a mobile phone, the internet or other technologies.
Who is involved?
Those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims by asking them to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or asking them to forward it onto another group of friends. Sometimes, these people don’t even realise they’re actually bullying someone.
What forms can it take?
“You can have 60 people bullying you on the internet, but in real life there wouldn’t be 60 people beating you up”
Cyberbullying takes many forms. These are the main ones:
Sending emails that can be threatening or upsetting.
Emails can be sent directly to a single target, or to a group of people to encourage them to become part of the bullying. These messages or ‘hate mails’ can include examples of racism, sexism and other types of prejudice. If someone sends you a message and you forward or laugh at it, you’re actually adding to the problem.
Instant messenger and chatrooms
Sending instant messenger and chatroom messages to friends or direct to a victim.
Others can be invited into the bullying conversation, who then become part of it by laughing.
Social networking sites
Setting up profiles on social networking sites to make fun of someone.
By visiting these pages or contributing to them, you become part of the problem and add to the feelings of unhappiness felt by the victim.
Sending humiliating and abusive text or video messages, as well as photo messages and phone calls, over a mobile phone.
This includes anonymous text messages over short distances using Bluetooth technology and sharing videos of physical attacks on individuals (happy slapping).
Games consoles allow players to chat online with anyone they find themselves matched with in a multi-player game.
Sometimes cyber bullies abuse other players and use threats. They can also lock victims out of games, spread false rumours about someone or hack into someone’s account.
Some people send viruses or hacking programs to another person that can destroy their computers or delete personal information from their hard drive.
Abusing personal information
Many victims of cyberbullying have complained that they have seen personal photos, emails or blog postings posted where others could see it without their permission.
Social networking sites make it a lot easier for web users to get hold of personal information and photos of people. They can also get hold of someone else’s messaging accounts and chat to people pretending to be the victim
The effects of cyber bullying
Even though cyberbullying cannot physically hurt you, it can still leave you feeling mentally vulnerable and very upset. You can also feel scared, lonely and stressed or that there’s no way out.
Escaping cyberbullying can be very difficult. Because anyone can get access to a mobile phone or the internet almost anywhere, it can be tough for those on the receiving end to avoid it, even in the safety of their own home.
What can students do if they come across cyber bullying?
- Talk to someone they can trust about it, like a friend, a teacher or an older relative
- Keep and save any bullying emails, text messages or images they receive
- Make a note of the time and date that messages or images were sent, along with any details they have about the sender
- Try changing the online user ID or nickname
- Change the mobile phone number and only give it out to close friends
- Mobile phone companies and internet service providers can trace bullies. Students should not be afraid of reporting it to them
- Block instant messages from certain people or use mail filters to block emails from specific email addresses
- Don’t reply to bullying or threatening text messages or emails – this could make matters worse and lets those carrying out the bullying know that they’ve found a ‘live’ phone number or email address
- Report serious bullying, like threats of a physical or sexual nature, to the police
See our E-safety pages for more information, external links and videos.