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Cyberbullying: what is it and how to stop it, what teens want to know about cyberbullying..

Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it

We brought together UNICEF specialists, international cyberbullying and child protection experts, and teamed up with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter to answer some of the most common questions about online bullying and give advice on ways to deal with it. 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:

Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help stop the abuse.

If you are worried about your safety or something that has happened to you online, you can seek help by calling your national helpline . If your country does not have a helpline, please urgently speak to an adult you trust or seek professional support from trained and experienced carers.

The top questions on cyberbullying

Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?

1. Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?

All friends joke around with each other, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is just having fun or trying to hurt you, especially online. Sometimes they’ll laugh it off with a “just kidding,” or “don’t take it so seriously.” 

But if you feel hurt or think others are laughing at you instead of with you, then the joke has gone too far. If it continues even after you’ve asked the person to stop and you are still feeling upset about it, then this could be bullying.

And when the bullying takes place online, it can result in unwanted attention from a wide range of people including strangers. Wherever it may happen, if you are not happy about it, you should not have to stand for it.

Call it what you will – if you feel bad and it doesn’t stop, then it’s worth getting help. Stopping cyberbullying is not just about calling out bullies, it’s also about recognizing that everyone deserves respect – online and in real life.

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What are the effects of cyberbullying?

2. What are the effects of cyberbullying?

When bullying happens online it can feel as if you’re being attacked everywhere, even inside your own home. It can seem like there’s no escape. The effects can last a long time and affect a person in many ways:

The feeling of being laughed at or harassed by others, can prevent people from speaking up or trying to deal with the problem. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to people taking their own lives. 

Cyberbullying can affect us in many ways. But these can be overcome and people can regain their confidence and health.

Illustration - boy with face buried in hands

3. How can cyberbullying affect my mental health?

When you experience cyberbullying you might start to feel ashamed, nervous, anxious and insecure about what people say or think about you. This can lead to withdrawing from friends and family, negative thoughts and self-talk, feeling guilty about things you did or did not do, or feeling that you are being judged negatively. Feeling lonely, overwhelmed, frequent headaches, nausea or stomachaches are also common.

You can lose your motivation to do the things that you usually enjoy doing and feel isolated from the people you love and trust. This can perpetuate negative feelings and thoughts which can adversely affect your mental health and well-being.

Skipping school is another common effect of cyberbullying and can affect the mental health of young people who turn to substances like alcohol and drugs or violent behaviour to deal with their psychological and physical pain. Talking to a friend, family member or school counsellor you trust can be a first step to getting help.

The effects of cyberbullying on mental health can vary depending on the medium through which it happens. For example, bullying via text messaging or through pictures or videos on social media platforms has proven to be very harmful for adolescents.   

Cyberbullying opens the door to 24-hour harassment and can be very damaging. That’s why we offer in-app mental health and well-being support through our feature “ Here For You .” This Snapchat portal provides resources on mental health, grief, bullying, harassment, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts. It was developed in partnership with leading international advocacy and mental health organizations to help Snapchatters contend with some very real issues.

At Snap, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our community.  Reach out and tell us how we might be able to help.    

Cyberbullying has the potential of having a negative impact on people's mental health. It's why it's so important that you reach out to someone you trust – whether it's a parent, teacher, friend or caregiver – and let them know what you're going through so that they can help you.

The well-being of our community matters hugely to us, and we recognise that cyberbullying can have an adverse impact on people's mental health. As well as taking strong action against content or behaviour that seeks to shame, bully or harass members of our community, we have partnered with experts to develop our well-being guide to help people learn more about improving their well-being, and keep TikTok a safe and inclusive home for our community.

Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?

4. Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?

If you think you’re being bullied, the first step is to seek help from someone you trust such as your parents, a close family member or another trusted adult.

In your school you can reach out to a counsellor, the sports coach or your favourite teacher – either online or in person.

And if you are not comfortable talking to someone you know, search for a helpline in your country to talk to a professional counsellor.

If the bullying is happening on a social platform, consider blocking the bully and formally reporting their behaviour on the platform itself. Social media companies are obligated to keep their users safe.

For bullying to stop, it needs to be identified and reporting it is key.

It can be helpful to collect evidence – text messages and screen shots of social media posts – to show what’s been going on.

For bullying to stop, it needs to be identified and reporting it is key. It can also help to show the bully that their behaviour is unacceptable.

If you are in immediate danger, then you should contact the police or emergency services in your country.


There is no place for bullying and harassment of any kind on Facebook or Instagram. It is against our policies to create an account, post photos, or make comments for the purpose of bullying or harassing someone else.

If you are experiencing bullying online, we encourage you to talk to a parent, teacher or someone else you can trust – you have a right to be safe and supported.

We also make it easy to report bullying directly within Facebook or Instagram. You can send our team a report from a post, comment, story or direct message. Your report is anonymous; the account you reported won’t see who reported them. We have a team who reviews these reports 24/7 around the world in 70+ languages and we will remove anything that violates our policies.

Meta’s Family Center offers resources, insights and expert guidance to help parents, guardians and trusted adults support their teen’s online experiences across our technologies.  For Facebook, we have resources that can help you deal with bullying – or understand what to do if you see someone else being bullied. For Instagram, you can learn more about our safety and anti-bullying features on our website.

Bullying is something no one should have to experience, either in person or online. If you are being bullied, our foundational piece of guidance is to talk to someone: a friend, parent, caregiver, trusted adult – anyone whom you trust to listen. 

Snapchat’s Community Guidelines clearly and explicitly prohibit bullying, intimidation, and harassment of any kind. We don’t want it on the platform; it’s not in keeping with why Snapchat was created and designed. Learn more here .

Letting us know when you experience or witness someone breaking our rules allows us to take action, which helps to protect you and other members of our community. In addition to reporting violating content or behaviour to Snapchat, speak with a friend, parent, caregiver, or other trusted adult. Our goal is for everyone to stay safe and have fun!

Everyone has the right to feel safe and to be treated with respect and dignity. Bullying and harassment are incompatible with the inclusive environment we aim to foster on TikTok. 

If you ever feel someone is bullying you or otherwise being inappropriate, reach out to someone you trust - for example, a parent, a teacher or a caregiver – who can provide support.

We deploy both technology and thousands of safety professionals to help keep bullying off TikTok. We also encourage our community members to make use of the easy in-app reporting tools to alert us if they or someone they know has experienced bullying. You can report videos, comments, accounts and direct messages so that we can take appropriate action and help keep you safe. Reports are always confidential. 

You can find out more in our Bullying Prevention guide for teens, caregivers, and educators on how to identify and prevent bullying, and provide support.

Being the target of bullying online is not easy to deal with. If you are being cyberbullied, the most important thing to do is to ensure you are safe. It’s essential to have someone to talk to about what you are going through. This may be a teacher, another trusted adult, or a parent. Talk to your parents and friends about what to do if you or a friend are being cyberbullied.

We encourage people to report accounts to us that may break our  rules . You can do this on our  Help Center  or through the in-Tweet reporting mechanism by clicking on the “Report a Tweet” option.

Last updated: January 2022.

I’m experiencing cyberbullying, but I’m afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?

5. I’m experiencing cyberbullying, but I’m afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?

If you are experiencing cyberbullying, speaking to a trusted adult – someone you feel safe talking to – is one of the most important first steps you can take.

Talking to parents isn’t easy for everyone. But there are things you can do to help the conversation. Choose a time to talk when you know you have their full attention. Explain how serious the problem is for you. Remember, they might not be as familiar with technology as you are, so you might need to help them to understand what’s happening.

They might not have instant answers for you, but they are likely to want to help and together you can find a solution. Two heads are always better than one! If you are still unsure about what to do, consider reaching out to other trusted people . There are often more people who care about you and are willing to help than you might think!

How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?

6. How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?

Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying. If you see this happening to someone you know, try to offer support.

It is important to listen to your friend. Why don’t they want to report being cyberbullied? How are they feeling? Let them know that they don’t have to formally report anything, but it’s crucial to talk to someone who might be able to help.

Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying.

Remember, your friend may be feeling fragile. Be kind to them. Help them think through what they might say and to whom. Offer to go with them if they decide to report. Most importantly, remind them that you’re there for them and you want to help.

If your friend still does not want to report the incident, then support them in finding a trusted adult who can help them deal with the situation. Remember that in certain situations the consequences of cyberbullying can be life threatening.

Doing nothing can leave the person feeling that everyone is against them or that nobody cares. Your words can make a difference.

We know that it can be hard to report bullying, but everyone deserves to feel safe online. If your friend is experiencing cyberbullying, encourage them to talk to a parent, a teacher or an adult they trust.

Reporting content or accounts to Facebook or Instagram is anonymous and can help us better keep our platforms safe. Bullying and harassment are highly personal by nature, so in many instances, we need a person to report this behaviour to us before we can identify or remove it. You can report something you experience yourself, but it’s also just as easy to submit a report for one of your friends. You can find more information on how to report something on  Instagram’s Help Center  and on  Facebook’s Help Center .

You and your friends may be reluctant to report to a technology platform for any number of reasons, but it’s important to know that reporting on Snapchat is confidential and easy. And remember: You can report Snaps (photos and videos), Chats (messages) and accounts – about your own experiences or on behalf of someone else. 

In the more public places of Snapchat, like Discover and Spotlight, simply press and hold on the piece of content and a card with “Report Tile” (as one option) will appear in red. Click that link and our reporting menu will appear. Bullying and harassment are the first categories in the reporting list. Just follow the prompts and provide as much information as you can about the incident. We appreciate you doing your part to help us protect the Snapchat community!  

If you believe another member of the TikTok community is being bullied or harassed, there are ways you can provide support. For example, you can make a confidential report on TikTok so that we take appropriate action and help keep your friend safe. 

If you know the person, consider checking in with them and encourage them to read our Bullying Prevention guide so they can find out more information about how to identify bullying behaviour and take action.

If your friends are experiencing cyberbullying, encourage them to talk to a parent, a teacher or an adult they trust.

If a friend of yours does not want to report their experience, you can submit a bystander report  on their behalf. This can include reports of private information , non -consensual nudity  or impersonation.

Being online gives me access to lots of information, but it also means I am open to abuse. How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the Internet?

7. How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the Internet?

Being online has so many benefits. However, like many things in life, it comes with risks that you need to protect against.

If you experience cyberbullying, you may want to delete certain apps or stay offline for a while to give yourself time to recover. But getting off the Internet is not a long-term solution. You did nothing wrong, so why should you be disadvantaged? It may even send the bullies the wrong signal — encouraging their unacceptable behaviour. 

We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others.

We all want cyberbullying to stop, which is one of the reasons reporting cyberbullying is so important. But creating the Internet we want goes beyond calling out bullying. We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others. We need to be kind to one another online and in real life. It's up to all of us!

We’re continuously developing new technologies to encourage positive interactions and take action on harmful content, and launching new tools to help people have more control over their experience. Here are some examples from Instagram:

Our priority is to foster a welcoming and safe environment where people feel free to express themselves authentically. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied or harassed. 

We use a combination of technology and moderation teams to help us identify and remove abusive content or behaviour from our platform. 

We also provide our community with an extensive range of tools to help them better control their experience – whether it's control over exactly who can view and interact with your content or filtering tools to help you stay in control of comments. You can find out about them on our Safety Centre . 

Since hundreds of millions of people share ideas on Twitter every day, it’s no surprise that we don’t all agree with each other all the time. That’s one of the benefits of a public conversation in that we can all learn from respectful disagreements and discussions.

But sometimes, after you’ve listened to someone for a while, you may not want to hear them anymore. Their right to express themselves doesn’t mean you’re required to listen. If you see or receive a reply you don’t like, unfollow  and end any communication with that account. If the behaviour continues, it is recommended that you block the account . If you continue receiving unwanted, targeted and continuous replies on Twitter, consider reporting the behaviour to Twitter here .

We are also working proactively to protect people using our service through a combination of human review and technology. Learn more about how to feel safer on Twitter here .

How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?

8. How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?

Think twice before posting or sharing anything on digital platforms – it may be online forever and could be used to harm you later. Don’t give out personal details such as your address, telephone number or the name of your school.

Learn about the privacy settings of your favourite social media apps. Here are some actions you can take on many of them: 

On most of your favourite social media, people aren't notified when you block, restrict or report them.

Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?

9. Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?

Most schools take bullying seriously and will take action against it. If you are being cyberbullied by other students, report it to your school.

People who are victims of any form of violence, including bullying and cyberbullying, have a right to justice and to have the offender held accountable.

Laws against bullying, particularly on cyberbullying, are relatively new and still do not exist everywhere. This is why many countries rely on other relevant laws, such as ones against harassment, to punish cyberbullies.

In countries that have specific laws on cyberbullying, online behaviour that deliberately causes serious emotional distress is seen as criminal activity. In some of these countries, victims of cyberbullying can seek protection, prohibit communication from a specified person and restrict the use of electronic devices used by that person for cyberbullying, temporarily or permanently.

However, it is important to remember that punishment is not always the most effective way to change the behaviour of bullies. Sometimes, focusing on repairing the harm and mending the relationship can be better.

On Facebook, we have a set of  Community Standards , and on Instagram, we have  Community Guidelines . We take action when we are aware of content that violates these policies, like in the case of bullying or harassment, and we are constantly improving our detection tools so we can find this content faster.

Making sure people don’t see hateful or harassing content in direct messages can be challenging, given they’re private conversations, but we are taking steps to take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules. If someone continues to send violating messages, we will disable their account. We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send harmful messages.

On Snapchat, reports of cyberbullying are reviewed by Snap’s dedicated Trust & Safety teams, which operate around the clock and around the globe. Individuals found to be involved in cyberbullying may be given a warning, their accounts might be suspended or their accounts could be shut down completely. 

We recommend leaving any group chat where bullying or any unwelcome behaviour is taking place and please report the behaviour or the account to us.  

Our Community Guidelines define a set of norms and common code of conduct for TikTok and they provide guidance on what is and is not allowed to make a welcoming space for everyone. We make it clear that we do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied or harassed. We take action against any such content and accounts, including removal.

We strongly enforce our rules to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely. These rules specifically cover a number of areas including topics such as:

As part of these rules, we take a number of different enforcement actions when content is in violation. When we take enforcement actions, we may do so either on a specific piece of content (e.g., an individual Tweet or Direct Message) or on an account.

You can find more on our enforcement actions here .

Internet companies don’t seem to care about online bullying and harassment. Are they being held responsible?

10. Technology companies don’t seem to care about online bullying and harassment. Are they being held responsible?

Technology companies are increasingly paying attention to the issue of online bullying.

Many of them are introducing ways to address it and better protect their users with new tools, guidance and ways to report online abuse.

But it is true that more is needed. Many young people experience cyberbullying every day. Some face extreme forms of online abuse. Some have taken their own lives as a result.

Technology companies have a responsibility to protect their users especially children and young people.

It is up to all of us to hold them accountable when they’re not living up to these responsibilities.

Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

11. Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

Each social platform offers different tools (see available ones below) that allow you to restrict who can comment on or view your posts or who can connect automatically as a friend, and to report cases of bullying. Many of them involve simple steps to block, mute or report cyberbullying. We encourage you to explore them.

Social media companies also provide educational tools and guidance for children, parents and teachers to learn about risks and ways to stay safe online.

Also, the first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you. Think about where cyberbullying happens in your community and ways you can help – by raising your voice, calling out bullies, reaching out to trusted adults or by creating awareness of the issue. Even a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

The first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you.

If you are worried about your safety or something that has happened to you online, urgently speak to an adult you trust. Many countries have a special helpline you can call for free and talk to someone anonymously. Visit  United for Global Mental Health to find help in your country.

We have a number of anti-bullying tools across Facebook and Instagram:

For more tips and ideas, visit Instagram’s Safety page and Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub . We also offer resources, insights and expert guidance for parents and guardians on our Family Center .

We want teens and young adults to be aware of the blocking and removal functions on Snapchat. Clicking on the person’s avatar will bring up a three-dot menu in the upper right-hand corner. Opening that menu offers the option of “Manage Friendship,” which, in turn, offers the ability to Report, Block or Remove the person as a friend. If you block someone, they will be told that their Snaps and Chats to you will be delivered once the relationship is restored.  

It’s also a good idea to check privacy settings to ensure they continue to be set to the default setting of “Friends Only.” This way, only people you’ve added as Friends can send you Snaps and Chats.  

We also recommend reviewing your Friends’ list from time to time to ensure it includes those people you still want to be friends with on Snapchat.  

Alongside the work that our safety teams do to help keep bullying and harassment off our platform, we provide an extensive range of tools to help you control your TikTok experience. You can find these in full on our Safety Centre . Here are a few highlights:

We want everybody to be safe on Twitter. We continue to launch and improve tools for people to feel safer, be in control and manage their digital footprint. Here are some safety tools anyone on Twitter can use: 

With special thanks to:  Meta, Snap, TikTok and Twitter. Last updated: February 2023.

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Essay Service Examples Social Issues Cyber Bullying

How To Prevent Social Media Bullying

Social media bullying is a common and growing phenomenon. The actual incidence of cyberbullying is unknown as many cyberbullying victims do not appear for help. Cyberbullying is an act that threatens, embarrasses, or intimidates a person

Cyberbullying is a very common and growing phenomenon. The actual incidence of cyberbullying is unknown as many cyberbullying victims do not appear for help. Cyberbullying is an act that threatens, embarrasses, or intimidates a person through electronic means such as text messages, chatting, email, social website, cell phone, Internet games.

Cyberbullying is more dangerous than bullying, cyberbullying has its own characteristics. Cyberbullying is difficult to identify because it can conceal their true identity. Cyberbullying is not like another bullying as it happens in a borderless cyber world. This makes it difficult for victims to protect themselves. Cyberbullying is easier to deal with than other types of bullying because of the limited number of individuals involved in the cyber world. Cyberbullying can last forever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Bullying is rampant. This situation causes the community to become more and more upset. Describe the causes and steps that have been triggered.

According to the study, bullying cases are increasing every year among students and the problem is getting worse. ‘If it wasn’t for the wind cooking the trees would shake’. Therefore, every problem that has to do with it has its reasons. There are several causes that have been identified as contributors to this bullying case.

Among them is the lack of appreciation of religious values ​​available to students who are willing to engage in bullying cases. They are willing to do so only to gain the attention of others and to show their strength to others. In short, they are losing the value of humanity in themselves.

In addition, parents who are less likely to give love and care to their children are among the reasons for this bullying. Parents who are always busy making money and being materialistic have given up on their children.

essay how can social media bullying be prevented

In addition, students who are at least one year old and bloody are easily influenced by the actions of their peers. If his or her friends are bullying, the student will also follow the behavior of his or her friends to be accepted by their group members. Loose supervision in schools is also the reason for giving students the opportunity to practice bullying against other students.

The saying goes there is no disease without cure’.There are a number of drastic steps that can be taken to curb and combat this crisis. Among them are the government like the Ministry of Education and the school should emphasize the issue of bullying in school education through specific subjects such as Moral Education, Islamic Education, Civic Education, and so on. As such, students will be aware that bullying is a crime and students will also be exposed to various information about the adverse effects of bullying and ways to prevent it from being involved in bullying cases.

In addition, lectures or campaigns such as anti-bullying campaigns can also be held on a regular basis in each school from time to time to help students stay away from bullying symptoms. Activities such as quizzes on bullying cases can also be implemented as an initiative in addressing these bullying cases.

However, the school must also ensure that surveillance at every corner of the school such as the back of the school building and quiet school corridor is tightened so as not to provide opportunities for those who wish to bully their victims. Schools can also encourage students to actively participate in the Crime Prevention Club at the school. This is because students will gain more knowledge on ways to prevent bullying cases if they become predators in the case and students can also share the information obtained with their peers so that all students know about it.

Another step is that students should also be good at choosing friends because students will also be more likely to be influenced by their peers. For example, if a friend is interested in reading a book, then the student will also be influenced and read together. The same is true if the student’s friend is involved in bullying at school. In addition, students should work with the school in order to contain these symptoms. Students who are exposed to bullying or who are victims of bullying should be encouraged to report to the school immediately so that the problem can be resolved as soon as possible for the sake of the school’s well-being.

Meanwhile, schools that have received complaints from students should also work hard to resolve the issue rather than cover up the case at will. If this case is still not being discussed, the problem of bullying will only get worse and worse. The school may meet with the student suspected of being involved in bullying cases as well as his or her parents to discuss the problem the student is facing and to find a way out. The school should impose the appropriate punishment on the student so that he will not repeat the act and also serve as an example to the other students.

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Prevent Cyberbullying


Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online

A child may be involved in cyberbullying in several ways. A child can be bullied, bully others, or witness bullying . Parents, teachers, and other adults may not be aware of all the digital media  and apps that a child is using. The more digital platforms that a child uses, the more opportunities there are for being exposed to potential cyberbullying.

Warning Signs a Child is Being Cyberbullied or is Cyberbullying Others

Many of the warning signs that cyberbullying is occurring happen around a child’s use of their device. Some of the warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying are:

What to Do When Cyberbullying Happens

If you notice warning signs that a child may be involved in cyberbullying , take steps to investigate that child’s digital behavior. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying , and adults should take the same approach to address it: support the child being bullied, address the bullying behavior of a participant, and show children that cyberbullying is taken seriously. Because cyberbullying happens online, responding to it requires different approaches. If you think that a child is involved in cyberbullying, there are several things you can do:

How to Prevent Cyberbullying

Woman and boy at computer

This guide helps parents, caregivers, and youth learn ways to identify, prevent, and address cyberbullying.

How to Prevent Cyberbullying

essay how can social media bullying be prevented

Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.

essay how can social media bullying be prevented

Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC.

essay how can social media bullying be prevented

Daniella Amato is a biomedical scientist and fact checker with expertise in pharmaceuticals and clinical research.

Verywell / Jiaqi Zhou

Cyberbullying is a growing social problem that has become all too common in online communities. Research indicates that one in five tweens has been cyberbullied, while 59% of teens have been harassed online. And the rate at which online bullying is occurring does not seem to be declining.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyberbullying escalated . During stay-at-home orders, research shows cyberbullying increased 70% and toxicity on online gaming platforms increased 40%.

These numbers illustrate that despite increased education and improved school bullying prevention programs , incidences of cyberbullying continue to escalate. So parents need to do what they can to prevent cyberbullying in their kids' lives.

Why Prevention Is Important

Cyberbullying is deliberately and repeatedly inflicting harm using electronic devices, gaming apps, and online social media platforms. It often manifests as hate accounts, hurtful social media posts, online rumors and gossip , and mean comments while gaming. The intention is almost always to embarrass, threaten, humiliate, intimidate, or abuse the intended target.

Research has shown that those who are cyberbullied suffer a number of different consequences , including struggling emotionally, physically, mentally, and academically. What's more, cyberbullying is a significant stressor in a young person's life. Cyberbullying leaves young people feeling hurt, embarrassed, and sometimes even scared.

Not only do they often blame themselves for the torment and harassment they experience, but they also are left feeling extremely stressed out. In fact, one study found that nearly 35% of those targeted by cyberbullies reported symptoms of stress.

Kids targeted by cyberbullies also may experience physical symptoms in response to the stress they are experiencing. They may complain of stomachaches, headaches, skin conditions, and other physical ailments.

Kids' sleeping and eating habits can be impacted by cyberbullying. Sometimes kids who are cyberbullied will crash diet or binge eat as either a way of coping with the cyberbullying or as an attempt to alter the way they look in hopes the cyberbullying will end.

Grades and extracurricular activities may also suffer as a result of harassment. Teens may skip school or have trouble concentrating on their studies because cyberbullying is consuming all of their time and energy.

It's also not uncommon for cyberbullying victims to feel alone and isolated. Many kids who are targeted report being ostracized at school . This experience, in turn, impacts their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. Ultimately, cyberbullying can lead to self-harm and even suicidal thoughts.

When kids are regularly harassed by others through social media posts, text messages, instant messaging, and blog posts, they can start to feel hopeless. They may start to think that the only way to escape the torment is through suicide. Because the risks associated with cyberbullying are so significant, it's important that parents take steps to prevent cyberbullying in their kids' lives.

If your tween or teen is having suicidal thoughts, they can contact the  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  at  988  for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If they are in immediate danger, call 911.

Ways to Manage Cyberbullying

While there is no foolproof way to prevent your child from ever being cyberbullied, there are things you can do together to reduce the likelihood they will be targeted. This includes implementing safety measures as well as having ongoing conversations about cyberbullying. You need to discuss what cyberbullying is, the risks associated with experiencing it, and how it can escalate.

It's also important to talk to your tweens and teens about how to use social media safely and responsibly and what they should do if they are bullied online.

Protect Accounts and Devices

When it comes to preventing cyberbullying, and similar behaviors like catfishing , it's important that your child use passwords on everything. Passwords are one of the most effective ways to protect accounts and devices.

Emphasize that your child should never share their passwords with anyone, including their best friend. Even though they may trust that friend implicitly, the reality is that friends come and go and there is no guarantee they are going to be friends forever.

Use Privacy Tools and Settings

No matter what your teen does online, make sure they are aware of the privacy settings and tools offered by the organization. Almost every social media platform including Instagram , Twitter, SnapChat , and TikTok have privacy settings.

Go through each account with your child and help them set their privacy settings to the most secure settings. This means making accounts private, preventing people from tagging them, requiring other people to get permission before sharing one of their photos, and so on.

Keep Personal Stuff Private

Kids should never share their address, cell phone number, or email address online. They should be careful about sharing too much information about where they go to school, especially if they have friends or followers online that they don't know really well.

Remind them that people are not always who they claim to be online. Even though the profile photo is of a teenage girl, that doesn't mean the person behind the account is actually a teenage girl. It could be someone pretending to be a young girl in order to gather information on other teens.

Manage Location Sharing

Some smartphones allow users to share their location with friends. This means that if they share their location with people, these people will always know where they are. Have a discussion with your child about who they can share their location with or if they can share it at all.

Likewise, some photos taken with smartphones already contain geotags that indicate where the photo was taken. People can use these photos to determine your child's location, even if they never mention where the photo was taken.

Your child needs to be mindful about which photos they are sharing and when. For instance, you may want them to refrain from posting vacation pictures until you have returned from vacation. This way, you are not letting the entire online world know that no one is at your home for the next two weeks.

Teach Them to Think Before Posting

Help your tweens and teens get in the habit of taking some time before posting. For instance, they could create a post offline and then come back to it in an hour and decide if they still want to post it. Doing so will keep them from posting things that they may later regret.

Cyberbullies may take what your child posted and use it against them in some way, so it might be helpful to encourage your child to take time to think before posting. Of course, if someone wants to use something against them, it won't necessarily matter what the content is.

But by taking their time to craft a post, your child will be able to think through what they are posting and determine whether or not it's something they want to say publicly. This is a good practice for kids in order to maintain a healthy relationship with social media.

You also need to teach your tween or teen how to practice digital etiquette . Using social media and other online tools is a privilege, not a right, and one that can be taken away if they are unable to use it responsibly.

Conduct a Social Media Audit

Every month or so, sit down with your tween or teen and go through their social media accounts. Together, determine what posts may need to be deleted from their account. This exercise is especially important as they prepare to apply to college or look for a new job.

Many times, college recruiters and hiring managers will look through an applicant's social media accounts to get a feel for their personality and character. Together along with your teen, be sure your teen's posts and photos are sending the message they want others to receive.

Log Out When Using Public Devices

Remind your tween or teen that when they are using public computers or laptops at school or the library, they should log out of any account they use. This includes logging out of email, social media accounts, their school account, Amazon account, and any other account they may open.

Simply closing the tab is not enough. If someone gets on the computer immediately after they are done, they may still be able to get into your child's account. And once they have access, they can take control of that account by changing passwords.

Once they have control, they can impersonate your child online by making fake posts and comments that make your child look bad. Plus, once you lose access to an account, it can be difficult and time-consuming to regain control.

Refuse to Respond to Cyberbullies

If your child does experience cyberbullying, they should refrain from responding. This means they should not argue, try to explain, or engage in any way with a cyberbully.

Cyberbullies are looking for an emotional response, but if your child refuses to give them anything to go on, they are left with one-sided communications.

In the meantime, they should take screenshots of the harassment and save it as proof of the encounter. This documentation may be needed when reporting a cyberbully.

Report Cyberbullies

Make sure your child knows that they should always report cyberbullying. This includes not only telling you what is happening, but also letting the social media platform, internet service provider, and any other necessary parties know what is going on. You may even need to contact the school or the police to put an end to the harassment.

Once all the reports have been filed, take the appropriate steps to block the person or account responsible for the cyberbullying. Doing so doesn't prevent them from using a different account or a public space to continue to cyberbully your tween or teen, but it will slow them down.

Teens also should learn to be good bystanders too. If they witness cyberbullying online, they should refrain from participating in the cyberbullying and instead look for ways to support the person being targeted. They should also report what they witness online to a responsible adult like you, a teacher, or a principal—especially if they know who is doing the cyberbullying.

More often than not, kids are cyberbullied by people they know from their school or their community. So standing up for the person being targeted can help prevent future cyberbullying incidents, especially if the cyberbully is not getting the reaction they want.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you are looking to protect your child as they embark on the online world or they have already experienced cyberbullying, it is never too late (or too early) to implement strategies to prevent cyberbullying. Even college students and young adults can benefit from added safety measures.

Sit down with your kids and strategize how they can not only use online tools safely, but also how they can protect themselves from trolls , cyberbullies, and other toxic people online. You should also talk to them about what steps to take if they are cyberbullied, including how to report cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities.

And remember, technology and the internet are not the issue. It's the people who use it to harm others that are the real problem. Try to refrain from taking away technology or limiting your child's access to online tools. Instead, teach them how to use these tools safely and responsibly. Doing so will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Cyberbullying Research Center in Partnership With Cartoon Network. Tween cyberbullying in 2020 .

Pew Research Center. A majority of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying .

L1ght.  Rising levels of hate speech & online toxicity during this time of crisis .

Nixon CL.  Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health .  Adolesc Health Med Ther . 2014;5:143-58. doi:10.2147/AHMT.S36456

Extremera N, Quintana-Orts C, Mérida-López S, Rey L.  Cyberbullying victimization, self-esteem and suicidal ideation in adolescence: does emotional intelligence play a buffering role? .  Front Psychol . 2018;9:367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00367

Alavi N, Reshetukha T, Prost E, et al.  Relationship between bullying and suicidal behaviour in youth presenting to the emergency department .  JdCan Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry . 2017;26(2):70-77.

By Sherri Gordon Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. 

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