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Find out how bullying has changed as the digital world encourages more children to take to social media and anonymous messaging apps to share their experiences and manage relationships.

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What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when someone bullies others using electronic means. This might involve social media and messaging services on the internet that are accessed on a mobile phone, tablet or gaming platform. The behaviour is usually repeated and at times can be as subtle as leaving someone out of a group chat or cropping them out of a picture.

Like any form of bullying, cyberbullying can be horrible for the children involved and hard for them to talk about. Cyberbullying can happen via text, email and on social networks and gaming platforms. It can consist of:

  • Threats and intimidation
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Defamation
  • Rejection and exclusion
  • Identify theft, hacking into social media accounts and impersonation
  • Publically posting or sending on personal information about another person
  • Manipulation
What is cyberbullying – a summary of what parents need to know about the the issue
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The internet and social media have changed the way children experience bullying

Now, Bullying can happen beyond the school gates,

Anywhere and anytime, in the form of cyberbullying - on social, gaming and instant messaging platforms

With the help of the Anti-bullying Alliance and industry experts, we've created a hub of advice for parents to support children on how to deal with the issue.
Here are five things you need to know about cyberbullying...One, Cyberbullying can take place 24/7 and happens repeatedly on a range of apps, games, and devices
Two, as its digital it can reach more people than traditional forms of bullying and increase the chance that others will join in the bullying.
Three, Unlike face to face bullying, children can't see the impact of their words so even children who've never been involved in bullying can post or share something without thinking.
Online safety advice for parents | 5 things you need to know about Cyberbullying
Four, although it's easy to keep the evidence, it can be anonymous so it’s harder to know who's behind it.
Five, according recent stats it's growing and can consist of a range of actions from harassment and threats to exclusion, defamation and manipulation.

So, it's important to take it seriously and give children the tools to deal with it
The best way to keep your child safe online is to take an active interest in their digital life from the start
Have regular conversations about what they do online to build trust and understanding of what they are experiencing.
Help them understand that their behaviour online should reflect what they do in the real world and how
Talk about the potential consequences of what they say and do online, along with the ‘stickiness’ of the web making it hard to remove things they share.

Last but not least, make them aware of privacy settings and reporting functions on the platforms they use to help them manage what they see, do and share online.
Putting all these tips into action will help make safer choices online but when things go wrong there are things you can do to help.
Whether your child is being cyberbullied is involved in the bullying, it's important to stay calm and offer your support.

Be led by your child on actions to take to address the situation
Encourage them to continue talking and be ready to listen and take action where necessary.
Don't take away their devices unless this is what they want, as it may make them feel isolated
Whether you are reporting to a school, the police or an online platform, be sure to find out how these organisations can help you and your child resolve the situation with advice in our hub.
Dealing with cyberbullying is challenging but with the right support a child can recover and continue to build the skills to make smarter choices online.
Here are three things to take remember to support a child on cyberbullying:
• One - Be involved and have regular conversations about their online activity
• Two - Give them the tools to be prepared to deal with things they may face online
• Three - Be aware of where and how to seek help to get the right level of support

10 things you need to know about cyberbullying


Cyberbullying facts and statistics

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The latest Ofcom children and parents media use report shows that 84% of 8-17s say they have been bullied on social media, through text message and on other online platforms, compared to 61% face-to-face.

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Those aged 14-15 were most likely to report concerns about online bullying, trolling and hate speech according to our 2021 report.

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Our own research shows that 71% of parents are concerned about their child experiencing online bullying by someone they know. Moreover, 70% show concern about online trolling or abuse from strangers, and 66% are concerned about their child being harassed by other children online.

The fact is the more time children spend online, the higher the chances are of having a negative experience at some point. About half of all cyberbullying comes from someone known to the victim.

Why is cyberbullying different from face-to-face bullying?

One of the biggest differences between cyberbullying and face-to-face bullying is that cyberbullying can be hard to get away from. Young people could be bullied anywhere, anytime – even when they’re at home.

  • It can reach a vast audience in a matter of seconds
  • It has the potential to draw in large numbers of people
  • It takes ‘repetition’ to a different level, with hurtful comments and images being shared multiple times
  • It has the potential to impact at any time of day or night
  • It can offer a degree of anonymity to the perpetrator
  • There are very few children that have not been impacted in some way, either as the perpetrator or the victim
  • It’s difficult to police and to punish
  • There is often some form of evidence (e.g. screenshot, text message).
Lauren Seager-Smith from the Anti-bullying Alliance talks about the rise of cyberbullying and how the ABA can help parents

Cyberbullying terms

You’ll hear various different words used in the context of cyberbullying, so it helps to know what each of these means. Click on the words below to learn the definition.


to intentionally make a person angry by saying or doing things to annoy them


sending repeated and frequent messages that include real threats of physical harm


deliberately excluding someone from online conversations, games and activities


logging into someone else’s account, impersonating them or posting inappropriate content in their name


targeting an individual or group with persistent and offensive messages which could develop into cyberstalking


publicly sharing personal, private or embarrassing information, photos or videos about someone online


deliberately posting provocative and insulting messages about sensitive subjects or inflicting racism or misogyny on an individual


stealing someone’s profile or setting up fake profiles to lure people into starting online relationships


sending or posting information that’s intended to damage someone’s reputation


sending angry and abusive online messages to intentionally provoke someone into starting an argument


abusing and angering people through online gaming


creating a fake identity or impersonating someone else online to harass an individual anonymously


ganging up on an individual online and sending offensive abuse until the victim is seen to ‘crack’

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