Find out what cyberbullying is and what you can do about it.
Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet, a mobile phone or a camera to hurt or embarrass someone. Technology can be used to share hurtful text, images or videos quickly with a large number of people. It's difficult to remove the hurtful material once it's shared online, as it can be recorded and saved in lots of different place. The material can also be found using search engines like Google.
Bullies often use technology to bully secretly, they use false profiles, false names or send messages anonymously. This makes it hard for the person being bullied to deal with - and it's hard for them to escape from if they use technology a lot.
What does cyberbullying look like?
- Being sent mean or hurtful text messages from someone you know or even someone you don’t know.
- Getting nasty, threatening or hurtful messages through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, or through sites where people can ask/answer questions like internet forums.
- People sending photos and videos of you to others to try and embarrass or hurt you.
- People spreading rumours about you via emails or social networking sites or text messages.
- People trying to stop you from communicating with others.
- People stealing your passwords or getting into your accounts and changing the information there.
- People setting up fake profiles pretending to be you, or posting messages or status updates from your accounts.
How it can affect people
Cyberbullying is not a joke, it's real and damaging. People being cyberbullied often feel
- guilty - because they think it's their fault even though it isn't
- hopeless and stuck because they don't know how to get out of the situation
- alone - because they think no-one can help.
- unhappy that they don’t fit in with the cool group.
- depressed and rejected by your friends and other groups of people.
- unsafe and afraid.
- Stressed out, wondering what to do and why this is happening
What you can do to protect yourself online
- Never give out any personal details on the internet.
- Never post or send any photos or videos that you wouldn't be happy for other people to see. If you wouldn’t print and pass these images around your school or show your mum or dad, they are not appropriate to share via phone or other technologies.
- Only give your mobile number to your friends and people you trust - do not put your mobile number on your profile of your social networking site (like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook).
- Don't add anyone you don't know to your list of friends.
- Don't arrange to meet someone you have met online.
- Keep your passwords private.
- Most sites will have a delete post option, but remember that once you have put something up – anyone can save it and re post it.
- Be aware that people can create fake profiles on social networking sites and they might not be telling the truth about who they are or anything else
- Don’t give too much personal information away in a blog.
- Never respond to any requests for personal information about your or photos of you online - your real friends can contact you directly
- Remember, the web is open for anyone to post material on it and sometimes you may see things that you wish you hadn’t. If you see something that you just don’t like, just close the screen on your laptop or turn off the monitor and tell an adult you trust.
If you are being cyberbullied:
Save all evidence you have of the bullying. If you have nasty emails or things posted on your profile save them to your machine so you can use it as proof. Save texts or voicemails that say anything horrible.
Learn how to block the bully on social networking sites and/or instant chat messaging or delete them from your contacts. See this advice on how to stop bullying on social networking advice from Childline.
Don’t share your private information like passwords, name and address, phone numbers with people you don’t know.
Be cautious about sharing photos of yourself, your friends and your family.
Don’t respond to messages when you are angry or hurt - either to strangers or people you know. This will often encourage them to continue or increase their harassment of you.
Log out and stop messaging if you feel you are being harassed
Block phone numbers that are sending you bullying texts in your mobile phone's settings - most recent mobiles have this feature - or download a number-blocking app to your phone.
Talk to someone about what is happening - this could be a member of your family, a teacher at school or a school counsellor. Or you could talk to Childline - call 0800 1111 - they have counsellors who can help, calls are free and won't show on your phonebill - or use childline's online chat - or see childline's cyberbullying webpage to get more advice.
If you know someone who's being cyberbullied
If someone you know is being cyberbullied, take a stand against it. Do not join in with the bullying, you can do this by:
- deleting bullying emails, messages, texts, photos or videos that are sent to you - do not forward them on unless it's to support the victim by showing them to a responsible adult.
- tell a responsible adult like a teacher, school counsellor or a parent what is going on and that you're worried about the situation
- let the person being bullied know that you do not agree with the bullying, this can really help them.
- help the person being bullied to speak to an adult about the bullying
- If the person being bullied is your friend, you can listen and consider together what to do about the bullying.
See more about witnessing someone else being bullied.
Last updated: 13 August 2015