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How to Spot and Address Cyberbullying

girl looking at phone getting bullied and students in background laughing and pointing at her

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of harassment or bullying that occurs online, typically through social media, messaging apps, or other digital platforms. It involves the use of electronic communication to intimidate, humiliate, or target individuals, often repeatedly and anonymously. Cyberbullying poses significant risks to children’s mental and emotional well-being and can lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

What to Look Out For

Social media has, unfortunately, become a breeding ground for cyberbullying, which requires awareness and action. Some common features of online bullying include:


Individuals feel emboldened to engage in harmful activities because their identity is shielded by online spaces. This can lead to making hurtful comments and threats, and spreading rumors that can be upsetting for the bullied victims.

Emotional Manipulation

Because of the persistence and permanence of digital interactions, hurtful messages or embarrassing content can be shared widely and remain accessible long after they are sent. This permanence can escalate the emotional toll and make recovery more challenging.

Public Humiliation

Negative comments or hurtful posts can spread virally within minutes, subjecting victims to a much larger audience than initially intended. The speed at which such content circulates exacerbates the distress felt by victims. A subtle yet significant pattern is the blurring of boundaries between online and offline worlds. Cyberbullying can spill into real-life interactions, impacting a victim’s sense of safety and well-being both online and offline. The interconnectedness between these realms amplifies the effects of cyberbullying.

Best Practices for Parents

Know the Signs

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the signs of cyberbullying. Look for sudden changes in your child’s behavior, mood, or reluctance to use electronic devices. Signs may include withdrawal, depression, anxiety, declining grades, or increased secrecy.

Monitor Online Activity

Keep an eye on your child’s online activities. This doesn’t mean invading their privacy, but rather ensuring their safety and offering guidance if you notice any concerning behavior.

Block and Report

Teach your child how to block and report individuals engaging in cyberbullying. Ending hostile and combative relationships before their impact becomes overbearing is essential .

Encourage Offline Activities

Promote a healthy balance between online and offline activities. Engage your child in hobbies, sports, or other interests that can boost his or her self-esteem and decrease his or her time online.

Know When to Seek Professional Help

If cyberbullying has a severe impact on your child’s mental health, don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional or counselor.

For More on Cyberbullying

Sources and Additional Reading