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Just as the use of technology itself has evolved, so has the ability to bully. Bullying, once restricted to the school or neighborhood, has now moved into the online world. Bullying through electronic means is referred to as “cyberbullying.”

As adults, thinking back, it was just a generation ago that kids and teens were asking their parents for a phone in their room — maybe even one with a separate line or three-way calling — so they could easily and somewhat privately connect with more friends.

Today, a kid or teen’s desire to connect with friends has not changed, but the options for doing so have grown tremendously. Children are not only asking for their own tablets, gaming devices, and mobile phones at a younger age, they also want access to popular social media sites, and the ability to engage in online games and share information.

Just as young people used to spend unmonitored time playing with friends in the neighborhood, outside the periphery of adults, they are now engaging with each other in the cyberworld, “talking” with each other, “talking” to each other, and “talking” about each other, often without adult or parental monitoring. While technology allows young people to connect in meaningful ways, such as the opportunity to share ideas, photos, videos, and more, the unsupervised nature of the cyberworld demands the need for guidance, guidelines, and social responsibility.

Cyberbullying: What Makes it Unique | PACERTalks About Bullying, Episode 13

The dynamics of using technology to hurt, harm or humiliate another individual or group are examined in this video.


While the definitions of cyberbullying, sometimes called online bullying, vary from source to source, most definitions consist of:

  1. electronic forms of contact
  2. an aggressive act
  3. intent
  4. repetition
  5. harm to the target
    (Hutson, 2016 )

The technology, accessed through computers or cell phones, used to cyberbully includes:

Other helpful definitions include:

Unique characteristics of cyberbullying

Recently a student shared “that all bullying hurts, whether in person or through technology, the end result is that bullying in any form is emotionally damaging.”

Contrasting offline bullying with online bullying:

  1. targets might not know who the bully is or why they are being targeted, as cyberbullying can happen anonymously;
  2. cyberbullying can have a large audience - the actions of those who cyberbully can go viral;
  3. it is often easier to be cruel using technology because of greater physical distance and the person bullying doesn’t see the immediate response by the target - they might not recognize the serious harm from their actions because they lack seeing the target’s response; and
  4. it can be harder for parents and adults to manage cyberbullying

(Hinduja & Patchin, 2014 ).

Rates of Incidence

What Kids Want Parents to Know About Cyberbullying | PACERTalks About Bullying: Season 2, Episode 17

Middle school students provide insight about their online experiences, and share what they want their parents to know about cyberbullying.

How cyberbullying impact students

Trends to address cyberbullying

Ideas for Addressing Cyberbullying | PACERTalks About Bullying, Season 2, Episode 13

In this video, we are sharing tips for teens on how to address and prevent cyberbullying, and what to do if you see it happening online.

Related Resources

  • 5 Things You Should Know About Cyberbullying
    While today’s technology provides young people with new and meaningful ways to connect and communicate, it also presents new challenges. This article explore the rise of cyberbullying, the use of technology to bully. Published by Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), December 2019.
  • Cyberbullying Starts Earlier Than You Might Think — Here’s How to Protect Your Child Now
    With kids now owning smartphones as young as age 6, knowing the basics of cyber safety is key.
  • What Every Parents Needs to Know About Protecting Their Child from Cyberbullying
    Bullying behavior has been around forever, but cyberbullying presents new challenges – and kids today are the first to experience them.
  • Helping Your Child Understand Cyberbullying
    It was just a generation ago that kids and teens were asking their parents for a phone line in their room so they could easily and privately connect with more friends. Today, a student’s desire to connect with friends has not changed, but the options for doing so have grown tremendously. While young people’s access to technology has evolved over the years, so has the way we communicate with children about online safety and cyberbullying. Posted to Spring 2017 edition of Our Children, the National PTA Magazine.
  • Cyberbullying: What Parents Should Know - Students now live at a time of instant access to cell phones, tablets, or computers, which open  the door to exciting new ways of connecting, interacting, and learning. However, these new modes of communication also present new challenges for parents. Not only do parents have to help children and youth navigate in-person social situations, they also need to prepare them for healthy relationships online. This 16-page booklet has information for parents on how to guide their children through this virtual world.
  • Safety in the Online Community: A conversation with your 13-year-old about Facebook and Instagram – Facebook and Instagram partnered with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to create this guide to help parents talk with their teens about using social media. The guide covers setting up a new account, safety tips, and commonly asked questions.
  • What Parents Should Know About Bullying – This guide, created in partnership with Verizon, offers a comprehensive overview for parents to learn what they can do to address and prevent bullying, featuring a section on mobile and online safety.
  • Teens Against Bullying on Cyberbullying – Teens Against Bullying is a place for middle and high school students to find ways to address bullying, to take action, and to be heard. This features a page on cyberbullying, giving students tips on how to prevent it and how to take action.
  • How to Prevent Cyberbullying: Hands Off the Keyboard Until You’re Calm! – YOUR TEEN for parents shared the following quotes in a recent interview: Cyberbullying manifests itself as teens using technology to “to hurt, harm, and humiliate” their peers, says Julie Hertzog, director of the National Bullying Prevention Center in Bloomington, MN. “In some ways,” says Hertzog, “online bullying can be even more devastating than traditional bullying, as an aggressor is able to access an audience 24/7 instead of being confined to the schoolyard, and the kid being bullied can’t escape the bullying.” And the hurt can be worse, as “the person being bullied can read and re-read a hurtful text or comment on social media, and experience the hurt over and over again,” Hertzog states.
  • How parents can help kids cope in the age of cyberbullying – In HEMAWARE, a digital magazine, author Rita Colorito interviews staff from PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, sharing important information for parents. “It’s important for kids to know that they have a right to be safe on their cellphone just like they have a right to be safe in school. It should be a good experience,” Hertzog says.

Watch “Cyberbullying Dance”

Watch the cyberbullying awareness video illustrating the necessity to end and delete cyberbullying message because “we are all more alike than we think.“ After viewing the video follow up with classroom discussion questions.

Cyberbullying: More Questions Answered By Kids | PACERTalks About Bullying, Episode 16

Age 13 is when teens are typically able to sign up for many social media accounts. But does cyberbullying only start at age 13 when teens start getting these accounts? In this video we ask kids about this question and about all things cyberbullying. Check out their amazing responses.

Watch “Social Media & Bullying: Using Technology to Keep Kids Safe”

Staff from PACER’s Simon Technology Center (STC) and National Bullying Prevention Center (NBPC) discuss the technology young people use, and the technology parents can use to keep them safe and raise responsible young digital citizens.

Watch the archived live stream.


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