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Using technology is a part of daily life. Mobile phones, emails, websites, Blogs, online games and social network sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can be a positive and fun tool to learn, express yourself and keep in touch with friends and family.
Sometimes it seems there is more sad news than happy news about technology, with the media reporting lots of stories about how technology can be used to hurt other people. You may have heard news reports about the impacts of cyberbullying and you may even have experienced cyberbullying yourself. From what young people are telling us, cyberbullying is an ongoing issue.
It’s important to remember that not all fighting or arguing is bullying. It is normal to have times when you have conflict and arguments with people. So, it is important to learn how to deal with conflict. Bullying is different to having an argument or a fight.
There are four things that can help you identify bullying over a normal argument between friends. Bullying is targeted and persistent behaviour that is intended to:
Bullying also involves:
Basically, cyberbullying is an extension of bullying but the people doing the bullying use technology such as websites, text messages, social networking sites and emails to embarrass, demean, harass, intimidate or threaten other people.
What young people have been saying to Kids Helpline about cyberbullying:
Our counsellors have responded to lots of children and young people who are dealing with a range of different ‘cyberbullying’ related issues. We hear reports of cyberbullying that can range from situations such as arguments between friends that get out of control, to groups of young people deliberately targeting other young people.
In a survey Kids Helpline conducted about cyberbullying some of the things young people told us included:
Our survey also asked young people to let us know ‘what advice would you give a friend who is being cyberbullied?’
Here are some responses:
Why is cyberbullying so hurtful and why do people do it?
Cyberbullying can be so hurtful because the bullying can often be very public. Mean messages left on a Facebook page are not just seen by the person being bullied but might also been seen by all their friends. Often the person being bullied can’t get away from it because the messages come through on their mobile phone, to their email account or on their Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter feed.
There are lots of reasons that young people bully others. Sometimes it’s about trying to become popular, or to intimidate or make someone afraid of them. Sometimes it’s a reaction to being bullied themselves or because they are jealous of the person they are bullying.
There are always different ways to deal with a problem of bullying, whether it’s at school or online. It may also depend on who is doing the bullying and how it started. It is important to keep in mind that dealing with bullying is about finding a solution that works for you. Sometimes it can be really hard to reach out for help or tell someone because you are concerned that people won’t understand, know what to do or that it will make the situation worse.
There are important things that can be helpful to remember if you are being cyberbullied:
Useful things to remember when communicating online (to help sort out/avoid some conflict!)
When communicating using text messages or emails it is important to remember that the people who read it don’t get to hear your tone of voice or see your facial expressions. This can lead to potential confusion and can then result in conflict. Sometimes you may even be perceived as a bully.
Sometimes school conflict can become a bigger problem and people can start to bully others over something that initially started as an argument. To help with this, we’ve included some tips to avoid fights and disputes that are occurring online:
It’s important to respond when you see others being cyberbullied!
If you see someone being cyberbullied, it is really important that you do not just watch it happen or worse, join in. Report the bullying to someone who can help, like an adult or use the report features on the particular social media site. If you are feeling confident, let the bully know that what they are doing is not cool. Take a stand against it. If everyone acts when they witness cyberbullying, it will go a long way to stopping it.
Reaching out for help is really important… and should not be seen as weakness
If you are having issues with anything that has been mentioned it is really helpful to talk to someone you trust. Research tells us that most young people do not perceive bullying as being ‘cool’ and would help out their friends if they knew what was going on. Our survey showed that most of the young people who told someone about being bullied (particularly a friend and/or adult), found it was helpful for them.
If you are concerned about cyberbullying, you can visit the esafety website to find out what you can do. If you are not sure about what to do then contact us for a confidential chat and one of our Counsellors can assist you.
Campbell, Marilyn A. (2007) Cyber bullying and young people: Treatment principles not simplistic advice.
Kids Helpline. (2009). Cyberbullying: Experiences, impacts and interventions as described by Australian young people. Unpublished research report. Brisbane, Queensland: Megan Price.
Last Reviewed August 2014