For as long as people have existed, so have bullies.

Often we say the bullies are just jealous, unhappy, or unkind people. However, the motivations behind cyberbullying are more nuanced, and often more mundane. Most cyberbullying is born out of boredom.

In a study published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, about 40% of students don’t even feel guilty after engaging in cyberbullying. Maybe it makes them feel funny, or popular, or maybe their desire for attention leads them to lash out. Whatever the motivation, means and opportunity make it easier than ever to torment someone online. 

People of any age, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation can experience cyberbullying. However, Caucasian teens and preteens — especially those who identify as homosexual — are more likely to be the recipients of online bullying.

In a standard physical bullying situation, the aggressor is far more likely to be an alpha male. Whereas, females are far more likely to be the perpetrators AS WELL AS victims of digital harassment.

How to prevent cyberbullying

STOMP Out Bullying says this: “The best prevention for a cyberbully is for parents to communicate and educate digital responsibility. The onus is on parents to ensure that their children are responsible and kind when using digital devices.”

Now, it may be difficult to chastise a pre-teen who doesn’t feel any guilt or see anything wrong with what they’re doing. So make sure you don’t try to shame them into better behaviour. The outcome will likely be defiance, rather than the intended self-reflection.

Adults should take the same method to address cyberbullying as they would any other bullying situation.

Here are six ways that might help:

1: Notice Changes

Try to recognize changes in mood, behaviour, or attitude. An increase in online and texting activity could indicate cyberbullying (being either the aggressor or victim).

Additionally, if your child hides their screen when you’re around and doesn’t want to talk about what they’re doing on it — that’s a major red flag (not just for cyberbullying issues).

2: Talk About It

Ask questions and learn what’s happening. Begin discussions before there is even a problem. Educate your child on what cyberbullying is, what to do if they witness it, and what to do if it happens to them.

3: Monitor Online Activity

The upside of online bullying is that there is always a trace. You can easily track down where the problem is.

As a parent, you can install monitoring software to see all social media activity, text messages (even deleted ones), call logs, and other online behaviours. You can even have remote access to your child’s cell phone.

Just remember, parent-child relationships also need trust — so use this type of monitoring at your own discretion.

4: Document Everything

If your child is being bullied, take screenshots of hurtful messages. If you ever need to prove that the bullying has occurred, these screenshots will come in handy.

5: Report Concerning Posts

This step is for young people, parents, teachers, and really anybody who finds themselves online… ever.

Many social media platforms have a reporting process in place, so if you see something concerning, hateful, or offensive — report it! If there are physical threats or evidence of a crime committed (or illegal behaviour in progress), screenshot it and report it to the police.

6: Find Support

As a parent, you can offer your kids support — however, at some point, your expertise will run out. At this point, make sure your child has access to any professional mental support they need. Other things you can do are:

  • Publicly comment on posts to shift the conversation in a positive direction.
  • Reach out to the bully and the target to express your concern.

Apps For Parents

Know Bullying (Free, iOS) – This app provides conversation starters to help you have those talks with your kids about bullying.

Bully Button for Parents and Kids (Free, Android & iOS) – With this free app, kids who are victims of bullying or witness it can easily record the incident and send the recording to their parents.

Red Panic Button (Free, Android & iOS) – If a child is in an emergency situation, like bullying, he/she simply presses the red panic button on the app, and his/her current position and address, in the form of a Google Maps link, will be sent to all the numbers stored in the Red Panic Button contact list via text and email.


What really causes cyberbullying?

Resources available to help parents protect their children from cyberbullying

7 Ways To Prevent Cyberbullying

Prevent Cyberbullying