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Could I be a cyberbully?

Know when your online behaviour crosses the line and what to do about it so you can get your relationships back on track

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying happens when people use technology to hurt the feelings of someone else in an ongoing way.

  • Cyberbullying can happen anywhere, anytime
  • Anybody can be a cyberbully if they act in certain ways toward another person online
  • Cyberbullying is illegal and there are serious consequences for the victims, the bully, their families and friends

“I decided to get revenge on my friend who was mean to me by posting mean things about her online. Now I feel really bad and I’m scared they will find out and I’ll get expelled from school.” – Melanie, 13

How to know if you're cyberbullying someone

Sometimes it’s tricky to see how our behaviour affects somebody else, especially if you can’t see the other person.

Sometimes you might want to lash out at someone online because you’re feeling down or upset. While this might make you feel good in the moment, it’s probably not going to help the situation.

It can be hard to know how to act online in a way that is respectful and caring of others, especially if you’re used to seeing cyberbullying online.

Here’s a few tips for recognising when you might be cyberbullying someone:

  • Are you using language that might hurt somebody’s feelings?
  • Are you swearing at somebody? Or yelling (using CAPS) at them?
  • What would your parents say if they saw it?
  • How would you feel if someone sent that message to you?
  • Would you say it to someone’s face?
  • Are you being kind and caring toward that person?
  • Do you feel upset or angry?

How to have good relationships online

Here are our tips on how to have good interactions online and avoid falling into the cyberbullying trap:

If it doesn’t feel right, don’t send it

Remember that things can be misunderstood very easily online

If you’re upset or angry wait until you feel calm before posting/sending anything

Be kind toward people and try posting/sending positive messages instead of negative ones

Treat people online as you would want to be treated

Get the person’s permission before posting/sending photos or videos of them

Understand that everybody is different and be respectful toward people even if you don’t like or agree with them

Think about what you’re posting/sending before you do it – check with yourself using the questions above before sending anything you might regret

You don't have to deal with it alone

It takes courage to admit when you're wrong. Recognising when you hurt somebody and then taking responsibility for it is a big step!

We're here to help you figure out how to get things back on track. Give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email and talk to a counsellor today. 

You could also visit the eSafety website to find out more about cyberbullying.

“Kids Helpline helped me find things I could do to be happier and have more friends.” – Tara, 12

This content was last reviewed 08/03/2018

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