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If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, you’re not alone. It can be upsetting and difficult to escape. Find out what cyberbullying is and what you can do to protect yourself.

Girl looking sadly at her laptop as she receives hateful and hurtful comments online

Cyberbullying. Trolling. Outing. Cancelling. Doxxing.

Hanging out online is great! Until it's not.

Cyberbullying can look like lots of different things and can happen on different technologies, games, sites and apps. If something online brings you down and impacts on your wellbeing, there's stuff you can do and people who can help.

Young person holding game console with headset on as cyberbullying speech bubbles appear around him

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying can also be called ‘Online bullying’ and can include:

  • Verbal abuse (saying mean and hurtful things) 
  • Humiliating or embarrassing someone on purpose 
  • Spreading rumours or lies  
  • Setting up fake profiles 
  • Excluding others 
  • Harassment (abusing and insulting you over and over) 
  • Threats

Cyberbullying can have incredibly hurtful and harmful impacts on the people it affects.

Types of online bullying

You might have heard of some of these before!  


When someone deliberately comments or posts something online with the intent to upset or fight with others. Trolling is only cyberbullying when it’s done with the intention to cause harm.


When someone shares private information about someone else without their permission, such as revealing someone’s gender or sexual identity online.


When a person’s social media accounts are boycotted, ostracised (excluded from the social group) or shunned (ignored) when other’s think they've acted in an unacceptable way. This isn’t always cyberbullying but becomes cyberbullying if it’s used to exclude or isolate others. 


When someone deliberately shares someone's personal identity, such as their real name or address, online without their permission.  


Leaving someone out deliberately, including uninviting them to online groups, conversations or events.


Sending direct insults to upset someone online.


When someone uses someone’s else's account to post inappropriate content.


When someone makes a fake account with the sole purpose of cyberbullying someone.


Spreading info in public posts or in DMs (direct messages) in order to ruin someone else’s reputation or their relationships with others.

Revenge porn and sextortion are two types of image-based abuse that can also happen online. If you experience revenge porn or sextortion, there are things you can do and people that can help you. For more info, check out this page

Harassment, stalking and abuse can also happen online.

Knowing the types of cyberbullying you experience is important, as different responses might be required. E.g. ignoring it is a good response to trolling and flaming, but is not helpful for fraping or masquerading.

If you experience cyberbullying, here's what you can do!

If you are being cyberbullied, it's not your fault and there are things you can do.

Try following our ‘4S’ steps.

1. Stay calm

Cyberbullying can trigger a lot of emotions. It's important you don't panic or retaliate as sometimes that can make things worse. It's always a good idea to respond when you are feeling calmer and have a clear mind (we know this is easier said than done!)

2. Screenshot

Take screenshots. It's important to keep the evidence if you have to report. If you find you keep looking at the screenshots or that having these saved are bad for your mental health, send a copy to someone you trust (e.g. a parent) and then delete your own copy.

3. Shut it down

You can block the person and report the cyberbullying to the game, site or app it occurs on. In most cases, cyberbullying is against their terms and conditions of use and should be removed. (Make sure you only block or delete someone after you’ve taken screenshots).

If you are unhappy with the response you get or the cyberbullying is not removed after being reported, you can also report it to eSafety.

4. Support

Report the cyberbullying to more than one trustworthy adult and keep on talking to them until the situation is resolved. You could talk to a parent, a teacher, your school counsellor, another family member and Kids Helpline to name a few.

Report Cyberbullying

If you're dealing with cyberbullying, you're not alone! You can make a complaint to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

"If you are dealing with one-off mean comments, it can sometimes be a good idea to respond with kindness and a sense of humour. If you think someone is trolling you and wants you to get emotional or argue with them, ignoring them can stop stuff from escalating." 

- Amanda, Kids Helpline Counsellor

How can I respond to mean stuff online?

In some cases, using humour can be a great way to defuse a situation where someone has said or done something mean. It's especially helpful in cases where others are trying to upset you or make you argue back. Here's some inspiration!

Man doing a hair flick
I give your insult 6/10 for creativity
Wednesday from addams family
Let's observe the troll in it's natural habitat
oh, boohoo. now I feel really bad
I don't care lol bye

I think I could have cyberbullied someone before... 

We all make mistakes both IRL and online. Being able to be aware of and owning up to your mistakes is a very strong thing to do. Here’s what to do if you think you may have cyberbullied someone:

  • Delete the harmful/mean comment, image, video, or fake account. If other people are sharing it, ask them to stop.
  • Apologise to the person or people it hurt. Owning up to your actions is an incredible sign of strength and personal growth.
  • Pause and reflect each time you are sharing, commenting or posting. Think whether this could potentially cause harm to someone else. If the answer is yes, put down the device!  

Check out some more helpful strategies here.

Take a stand!

Standing up for someone who is being cyberbullied is an incredibly powerful thing to do. This is known as being an upstander. Here are some ideas how you can be an absolute legend and take a stand against cyberbullying.

Reach out to the person being bullied. Check in with them to see if they are ok and let them know what’s happening to them is not cool.  

Call out bad behaviour online. This could look like posting a comment or meme saying that you don’t agree with the cyberbullying. 80% of you told us that you wished someone would stand up for you if you were being cyberbullied.  

Report it – most games, apps and sites have easy ways to report cyberbullying. 

Check in with a trusted adult so they know what's going on. This could be a teacher, parent, older sibling or a counsellor. Remember, we are always here to help.  

Coping with cyberbullying

I blocked and reported the cyberbullying… now what? How do I feel better again?

Cyberbullying can hit hard. It can make you feel unsafe online or bad about yourself.

Here are some other things that can really help!

  • Depersonalise it – people who cyberbully others are acting in a way that isn’t ok – and that’s their problem/issue (not yours!) Remember that being targeted by someone who cyberbullies isn’t your fault.
  • Reframe it – try to find positives that came about as a result of a bad situation.
  • Find meaning or purpose – sometimes going through something tough can make us stronger or teach us something new. 
  • Focus on what you can control – you didn’t choose the bad thing that happened, but you can choose what happens next.
  • Prepare for next time – hopefully it won't happen again, but we can't always avoid bad things. It can help to have a plan around what you might do differently instead! Remember that different types of cyberbullying sometimes require different types of responses. 
  • Get support – if you find this stuff impacts you more severely than expected, or longer than you think it should, you can talk to someone you trust like a parent, teacher, friend or Kids Helpline.


Need some tips?

Check out these videos!

Lots of young people experience cyberbullying

We asked, and 64% of you said you’d experienced cyberbullying.

If you, or someone you care about is being cyberbullied, you can chat with a counsellor to make a plan and get support. It's never too late to get help! Give us a call, start a WebChat or check out My Circle today.

This content was last reviewed 26/09/2023

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