Online bullying

Online bullying, sometimes called cyberbullying, is bullying carried out through the internet or mobile devices.

Online bullying can include:

  • sending insulting or threatening messages
  • posting unkind messages or inappropriate images on social networking sites
  • excluding others from online chats or other communication
  • inappropriate image tagging
  • sharing someone's personal or embarrassing information online
  • creating hate sites or starting social exclusion campaigns on social networking sites
  • assuming the identity of the another person online and representing them in a negative manner or manner that may damage their relationship with others
  • repeatedly, and for no strategic reason, attacking players in online gaming.

For it to be called bullying, inappropriate actions online must be between people who have ongoing contact and be part of a pattern of repeated behaviours (online or offline). Single incidents or random inappropriate actions are not bullying.

Any action – such as an insulting comment or an embarrassing photo – repeated through sharing and forwarding to others can be called bullying if the individuals involved know each other, and have ongoing contact either online or offline.

Online bullying differs from other forms of bullying.

  • It is more likely to occur outside school.
  • Material can be shared within a very short timeframe and long after the initial incident.
  • It can occur “24/7”.
  • It is more difficult to defend yourself or escape.

How do I know if a young person is being bullied online?

The signs of possible bullying online can be the same as signs of other bullying but include other behaviours with phones and computers. For example:

  • being hesitant about going online
  • seeming nervous when an instant message, text message or email appears
  • being visibly upset after using the computer or mobile phone, or suddenly avoiding it
  • closes the screen, or hides the mobile phone when others enter the room
  • spending unusually long hours online in a more tense way
  • receiving suspicious phone calls, emails or packages
  • a decline in health.

What can parents do if their child is bullied online?

Talk openly with your child about online bullying. Work out strategies they can use if they come across online bullying or are bullied online.

  • Remind your child not to retaliate.
  • Teach your child how to block an online bully. This process varies from site to site.
  • Get your child to change their privacy settings.
  • Keep an accurate record of any incidents of online bullying.
  • Contact the service provider.
  • If it is serious and a potential criminal offence, consider contacting the police.

Contact your child’s school. It is important to resolve issues of school-related online bullying.

Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult at the school or you notify the school.

Resources

Useful websites include:

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

Bullying. No Way!

Kids Helpline

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