What does cyberbullying look like?

Cyberbullying is the term used to describe the repeated bullying behaviour of a person or group inflicted on another person or group with the intent to cause them harm, utilising electronic devices and features.  Cyberbullying continues to be a serious problem and one which experts are still trying to understand the dynamics. Unlike other forms of bullying, cyberbullying rarely affords any ‘time-out’ for the person affected due to the relentless nature of the behaviour.  Examples of Cyberbullying Behaviours are: 

Peer Pressure

Using a public online platform to pressure someone into taking part in something (like an online challenge) they don’t want to do or forcing them to disclose certain information.

Nasty DMs

Cowardice is a common trait among bullies so even if it seems like all is well on your child’s public social media feed, they might be receiving nasty or hurtful private messages from someone they know in their Direct Messages (DMs).

Image-Based Bullying

Even if it’s done ‘as a bit of fun’, sharing embarrassing or compromising images of someone can be devastating to a young person’s self-esteem. There are now laws in place that prohibit this type of behaviour.

Passive-Aggressive Comments

Individuals tend to use passive-aggressive comments when they want to express a negative comment/opinion about an individual but do not want to do it to their face.  Instead, they express their comment in an insinuating and subtle manner to an individual in the hope of influencing how that individual views the person who is the target of the comment/opinion. They may do this in a private group chat for example, or on a public forum, but never directing it at the victim. 

Fake Accounts

Sometimes those intent on cyberbullying another set up a fake account specifically to send unkind messages or spread lies about them. These can be blocked and reported to the social media platform but ultimately, the person can just continue to set up new ones.


Trolling is a particular type of behaviour that can happen on social media platforms. Those engaged in this type of behaviour tend to find satisfaction in targeting people and/or groups, challenging their viewpoints and trying to provoke a reaction in them, or others to turn against them, sometimes leading to the victim(s) shutting down their social media account and disengaging from the platform, as they no longer feel able to participate safely.

Social Exclusion

Social exclusion is when your child is excluded from a friend WhatsApp group or worse, discovers that a group was set up specifically to talk nastily about them with the members sharing mean comments.  Friends posting group pictures online without your child with the intention of causing upset is another example of social exclusion.

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