Staying safe online
Online bullying – or cyberbullying – is engaging in bullying behaviour using technology such as the internet or mobile devices.
Online bullying is different from other forms of bullying:
- It is more likely to happen outside school.
- Harmful material can be shared quickly and long after the first incident.
- It can happen anytime, day or night.
- It is more difficult for children to defend themselves or get away.
What does online bullying look like?
Online bullying might include:
- sending abusive text messages and emails
- posting hurtful or threatening material on social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, or on gaming sites
- imitating or excluding others online
- inappropriate comments on pictures of others
- threatening another person to do something such as sending revealing images.
How do I keep my child safe?
There are a number of key ways to keep your child safe online.
- Remind your child to tell a trusted adult if they are bullied online.
- Tell your child not to share their passwords with others.
- Remind your child to only give their mobile number or personal information to trusted friends.
- Talk with your child and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone.
- Find out the age restrictions for the sites and applications your child wants to use.
- Depending on the age of your child, set up your own accounts and ‘friend’ your child. By doing this, you can understand how the site’s privacy settings work, see what your child posts online and how your child responds to posts made by others.
- Make sure that your child’s account settings are set to ‘private’ to control who sees their information.
- Know how to block unwanted users.
- Encourage your child to only be friends online with people they know in day-to-day life.
- Remind your child to think carefully before they post comments, or upload or send images online.
For more information go to iParent on the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website to learn about the digital environment and keep updated on your child’s technology use. You can find out about using safety settings on your family’s web-connected devices, tips for choosing movies and games and strategies for keeping your child safe online.
What can I do if my child is bullied online?
Knowing your child is being bullied online can be distressing. Talk openly with your child about online bullying and help them with strategies they can use if they come across online bullying or are bullied online.
Here are some ways you can help.
- Remind your child not to respond or retaliate.
- Block or delete an online bully.
- Change their privacy settings.
- Keep a record of any incidents of online bullying.
- Contact the service provider. They can help with blocking messages and calls.
- Report the bullying.
Finding opportunities to speak with your child about bullying is important.
If your child still wants to talk to someone, or you think added support would help, you may refer them to Kids Helpline. They can also call them for free on 1800 55 1800.
How to report online bullying
- Keep records or screen shots of calls or messages that are offensive or hurtful.
- Report serious online bullying behaviour to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.
- Call the police if your child is physically threatened.
For further advice about reporting online bullying use this support tool.
Contact your child’s school
It is important that schools and families work together to resolve issues of school-related online bullying. Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult at the school or notify the school yourself. The school’s counsellor or psychologist is also available if required.
When contacting the school, you should:
- be specific about what has happened (give dates, places and names of students involved, if possible)
- make a note of what the school plans to do
- follow up with the school on the action taken.