Young people are using the Internet more than
ever and most have Internet access from home. For many children, the Internet
isn’t simply a convenient way to research or a fun afterschool
activity—it’s a big part of their social life. Emailing and chatting with
friends are children’s most common online activities after studying and
playing games. But like many other social situations, some kids bully other kids
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is similar to other types of
bullying, except it takes place online and through text messages sent to cell
phones. Cyberbullies can be classmates, online acquaintances, and even anonymous
users, but most often they do know their victims.
Some examples of ways kids
bully online are:
- Sending someone mean or threatening emails,
instant messages, or text messages.
- Excluding someone from an instant messenger
buddy list or blocking their email for no reason.
- Tricking someone into revealing personal or
embarrassing information and sending it to others.
- Breaking into someone’s email or instant
message account to send cruel or untrue messages while posing as that
- Creating websites to make fun of another
person such as a classmate or teacher.
- Using websites to rate peers as prettiest,
Both boys and girls sometimes bully online and
just as in face-to-face bullying, tend to do so in different ways. Boys more
commonly bully by sending messages of a sexual nature or by threatening to fight
or hurt someone. Girls more often bully by spreading rumors, sending messages
that make fun of someone or exclude other. They also tell secret.
Its Effects on Kids
Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of
the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as a drop in
grades, low self-esteem, a change in interests, or depression. However
cyberbullying can seem more extreme to its victims because of several factors:
- Occurs in children’s home.
Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.
- Can be harsher. Often kids
say things online that they wouldn’t say in person, mainly because they
can’t see the other person’s reaction.
- Far reaching. Kids
can send emails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a
few clicks, or post them on a website for the whole world to see.
- Anonymity. Cyberbullies often
hide behind screen names and email addresses that don’t identify who they
are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a
- May seem inescapable. It may
seem easy to get away from a cyberbully—just get offline—but for some
kids not going online takes away one of the major places they socialize.
Cyberbullying can be a
complicated issue, especially for adults who are not as familiar with using the
Internet, instant messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms
of bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and
adults are available to help.
Whether you are a parent,
teacher, or other adult who works with kids, you can help stop cyberbullying.
You can start by talking to kids about the issue and teaching them the rules
below that will help prevent cyberbullying from happening to them or someone
What Kids Need to Know:
- Never give out personal information online,
whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms, blogs, or personal
- Never tell anyone but your parents your
password, even friends.
- If someone sends a mean or threatening
message, don't respond. Save it or print it out and show it to an adult.
- Never open emails from someone you don't know
or from someone you know is a bully.
- Don't put anything online that you wouldn't
want your classmates to see, even in email.
- Don't send messages when you're angry. Before
clicking "send," ask yourself how you would feel if received the
- Help kids who are bullied online by not
joining in and showing bullying messages to an adult.
- Always be as polite online as you are in
Since most cyberbullying takes place at home,
it's important that parents know about cyberbullying and that they get involved
in preventing it. Just like parents help their kids avoid inappropriate
websites, they can protect them from cyberbullying.
What Parents Can Do
- Keep your home computer is a busy area of your
- Set up email and chat accounts with your
children. Make sure that you know their screen names and passwords and that
they don't include any personal information in their online profiles.
- Regularly go over their instant messenger
"buddy list" with them. Ask who each person is and how your
children know him or her.
- Print this list of commonly used acronyms
in instant messenger and chat rooms from the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children and post it by your computer.
- Discuss cyberbullying with your children and
ask if they have ever experienced it or seen it happen to someone.
- Tell your children that you won't blame them
if they are cyberbullied. Emphasize that you won't take away their computer
privileges - this is the main reason kids don't tell adults when they are