5 strategies on how to prevent cyberbullying

Cyberbullying, or online bullying, is bullying that’s done using technology. Cyberbullying examples include using the internet or a mobile phone to hurt, harass or embarrass someone. The consequences of cyberbullying can be serious and even life-threatening so it’s important to know how to recognise and deal with it effectively.

When you're experiencing cyberbullying, it can sometimes feel like no-one else understands, and like there’s nowhere to turn for help. But you're never alone in dealing with cyberbullying. Cyberbullying statistics from 2020 show that 44% of young people aged 12–17 had at least one negative online experience in a six month period. 

If you're wondering how to deal with cyberbullying, then read on for our cyberbullying strategies.

5 strategies for dealing with cyberbullying

Strategy 1: Don’t respond immediately to cyberbullying

The aim of a lot of cyberbullying is to annoy, upset or confuse the person who is being targeted, so that they react emotionally. If you’re being cyberbullied, keep in mind that the person who’s targeting you wants you to respond.

A good strategy for dealing with this is not to give them what they’re looking for. If someone says something to you online, tags you in a photo you don’t like, or just generally does something unkind, put down your phone for an hour or more. Take that time to give yourself some emotional distance, and think carefully before you respond.

Strategy 2: Follow up when you’re calmer

After an hour, you’ll hopefully feel a little calmer. Now you can go back online, if you feel up to it, maybe even with a friend or family member in the room with you. The idea at this stage is to get a proper feel for the situation before contacting the person who is cyberbullying you.

Using calm, neutral language, try to work out the situation with the person without letting them get to you. They might not even realise that you interpreted their actions as cyberbullying, so a calm conversation is a good place to start.

Strategy 3: Take screenshots

Screenshots are the best way for you to report an instance of cyberbullying. After all, the person who’s cyberbullying you may delete their comment or photo when they realise that it might get them in trouble. Screenshots will ensure you always have a copy of what was said. Note: if you take a screenshot on Snapchat, the other person will be notified that you did so.

Strategy 4: Try to stop frequently checking posts

When you’re in the thick of a cyberbullying attack, it can feel like the person who is cyberbullying you is literally in the room with you, shouting things in your ear and demanding your attention.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can always limit your social media time to a few hours a day, or whatever feels right for you. That way, the bullying doesn’t feel constant, and you can take a break from the online world to look after yourself.

My self-care at the time was to take a bit of a break from social networking … and to ensure that I spent a lot of quality time with family and friends.

Ashleigh, 23

Strategy 5: Report and block

Most social media sites want to help you feel safe online. They don’t want you to experience cyberbullying, either, so they have a lot of built-in tools to keep you safe.

If you’ve exhausted the reporting cyberbullying and blocking options within your social media platform and things are still really bad, you can make a report to The eSafety Commissioner by filling out this form. Before you make a complaint, you need to:

  • have copies of the cyberbullying material ready to upload (screenshots or photos)

  • report the material to the social media service (if possible) at least 48 hours before filling out the form

  • gather as much information as possible about where the material is located

  • allow 15-20 minutes to complete the form.

Learning how to avoid cyberbullying, and knowing how to respond when you experience cyberbullying can help you have a safer experience in online spaces. Knowing the signs can also help you keep others safe.

Remember that help for cyberbullying is available. You can talk with a mental health professional about your experience, share what’s going on with a trusted friend or adult, or use ReachOut’s Peer Chat to talk to an experienced peer worker.

What can I do now?

  • Find something else you can do for those times that you don’t want to be online.