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What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying that’s done through the use of technology, for example, using the internet or a mobile phone to hurt, harass or embarrass someone. If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, you’re not alone. Unfortunately it’s really common, with up to one in five young Australians having reported being cyberbullied (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. (2011). High-wire act: Cyber-safety and the young: Interim report. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia).

What does cyberbullying look like?

Cyberbullying comes in many forms, but the most common are:

  • receiving mean or hurtful text messages from someone you know or even someone you don’t know
  • receiving nasty, threatening or hurtful messages through social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
  • people sending photos and videos of you to others without your permission to try and embarrass or hurt you
  • people spreading rumours or lies about you via emails or social networking sites or text messages
  • people trying to stop you from communicating with others or excluding you from chat groups
  • people stealing your passwords or logging into your accounts and changing the information there
  • people setting up fake profiles pretending to be you, or posting messages or status updates from your accounts.

Why is cyberbullying so hard to deal with?

  • A lot of people can view or take part in it.
  • The content (photos, texts, videos) can be shared with a lot of people.
  • It is often done in secret with the bully hiding who they are by creating fake profiles or names, or sending anonymous messages.
  • It’s difficult to remove because it’s shared online so it can be recorded and saved in different places.
  • It’s hard for the person being bullied to escape it if they use technology often.
  • This content may also be easy to find by searching on a web browser like Google.

How can cyberbullying affect you? It can make you feel:

  • guilty - like it’s your fault
  • hopeless and stuck like there’s nothing you can do about it or stop it
  • embarrassed, like you don’t fit in
  • depressed and rejected by your friends and other groups of people
  • unsafe and afraid and scared to go to school
  • stressed-out wondering what to do and why this is happening to you.

What can I do now?

  • Check out another young person's experience of cyberbullying. Roseanna reflects that she wished she had talk to someone earlier; as the more people she talked to, the easier it became.
  • Our number 1 tip is to talk to someone about what you're going through. Rahart Adams breaks down the key steps for you here.
  • Check out the 5 steps you can steps you can take to help you deal with a cyberbullying situation.