According to a 2018 Pew Research Study, 45% of teens reported that they are online almost constantly. This frequent online use has increased the odds of being exposed to cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying involves the use of digital technologies to bully others. Examples of cyberbullying include:

  • Sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone
  • Threatening online to hurt someone or telling them to hurt themself
  • Deliberately excluding someone online
  • Sharing private or personal information online to humiliate someone
  • Imitating someone online or using their log-in to cause harm
  • Altering a picture to embarrass someone

Cyberbullying is unique because it can be:

  • Persistent – Cyberbullying can include a wider audience, can occur  24 hours a day, can affect targets no matter where they are so it can be difficult to find relief. The information can be easily and quickly shared, which makes it difficult to contain or stop negative messages.
  • Permanent – Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public. A negative online reputation can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.
  • Hard to Notice – Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.
  • Anonymous – Cyberbullying can be done anonymously. Those being bullied might not even know who is perpetuating the behavior, which makes it easy for one child to hurt another and not be held accountable.



Warning Signs That Your Child May Be a Target of Cyberbullying

The signs of cyberbullying can overlap with what's considered "typical" behavior for their age group, so it can be hard to tell if it is happening to your child if they don't tell you. Look for changes in your child’s behavior, achievement, and contact with friends. They may be anxious, upset, sad, or angry during or after being online or using their phone. You may notice they are getting more notifications on their device. Are they unusually irritable and more prone to emotional outbursts? Or are they more secretive in general about how much time they are online or by hiding the screen? Or are they glued to their device more than normal? Or maybe they suddenly STOP using their phone and try to avoid being online. If you notice one or more of these signs, take immediate steps to identify and respond to what is upsetting your child. While it may not be cyberbullying, it is a good idea to ask.

What To Do If Your Child Is a Target of Cyberbullying

  • Do not respond or retaliate.
  • Block whoever is bullying you.
  • Save the evidence.
  • Report it.
  • Tell a trusted adult.

Essential Tips for Parents

Teach your child empathy by helping them see others' perspectives and understand others' feelings.

Help children understand the line between funny and cruel. A child's online communication is often purposely ambiguous or accidentally cruel - both of which can lead to misunderstandings. If drama is brewing, ask your child to call or speak face-to-face with their friend to clear it up.

Talk to your child about who they can go to if they have a problem. Children need a trusted adult to confide in - their school counselor, their music teacher, even the parent of a friend. 

Help your child be an upstander, not a bystander. Children may be hesitant to get involved, fearing that the person who is bullying will also target them. But there are safe ways your child can help like reaching out to the target, getting an adult involved, and not participating in the bullying behavior. 

Cyberbullying can have real negative and potentially long-lasting consequences
on a child's life. This twenty-five minute video will help you learn what cyberbullying is,
the impact it can have on people, and how to protect your child from cyberbullying.
Together we can help our children make good choices.

Internet Safety Tips To Teach Your Children

  • Never share names, schools, ages, phone numbers, or addresses online.
  • Never open an email from a stranger. It may contain a virus that could harm your computer.
  • Never send pictures to strangers or view pictures that strangers send to you online.
  • Keep passwords private from others except parents.
  • Tell a trusted adult if anything mean or creepy happens on the Internet.

Strategies for a responsible and safer online life:

  • Visit age-appropriate sites. Find sites that promote learning, creativity, and that deepen your child's interests. Also review popular web sites and apps before your child visits them. Despite what your child might tell you, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok are not meant for preteens.

  • Avoid chatting with strangers. Tell your child that if a stranger reaches out to them, they should tell a trusted adult. If your child is playing online games with people they don't personally know, they should be careful not to disclose personal information.

  • Help your child think critically about what they find online. Young people need to know not everything they see is true. You may choose to use safe-search settings or filtering software for younger children.

  • Remind your child that if they would not do something in real life, they should not do it online.

  • Develop a family plan for Internet use that includes device-free times and zones. Set limits on the amount of time your kids spend online.

  • Talk about privacy. Remind your child that when they post something online, they lose control of it. It can be copied and shared over the Internet. Show your child where privacy settings are on their favorite sites and help them think about the settings they should use.

  • Make sure children feel safe reporting anything suspicious, mean, or scary. Let them know they won't get in trouble if they tell a trusted adult.

  • Be involved and view your own habits carefully. Parents are role models for safe and smart use. Enjoy the good stuff together!