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Fact Sheet


What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that is carried out through an Internet service such as e-mail, chat rooms, discussion group, online social networking, instant messaging or web pages. It can also include bullying through mobile phone technologies such as text messaging. According to some estimates, more than one-third of American teens have experienced cyberbullying.

Examples of cyberbullying behavior are:

  • Teasing and being made fun of;
  • Spreading of rumors online;
  • Sending unwanted messages; and
  • Defamation.

Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, and the bully can act anonymously. People can also be bullied online by groups of people such as classmates or collective members of an online community.

How you feel if you are being cyberbullied

Just like bullying in real life, cyberbullying can have terrible effects on a person. Being bullied can lower your self-esteem and you might feel alone, sad, angry and scared. If you are being bullied, it’s not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you are being bullied—they might be able to help you.

In some extreme situations, cyberbullying can be illegal, but in every instance, bullying is wrong. If you feel that your safety is threatened, call 911 or your local police.

Check out the fact sheets on What to do if someone you know is being bullied and What to do if you are being bullied for more info.

How to stop cyberbullies

If you are being cyberbullied, it’s possible that you’re feeling powerless and isolated. But there are options and you can take action to stop the problem.

Don’t reply to bullying messages. It’ll only get worse if you do.  By replying, the bully gets what he or she wants. Sometimes it can be difficult to resist replying because you want to defend yourself or get your viewpoint across, but often if you don’t reply, the bully will leave you alone.  It is also a good idea to delete the profile or username under which you are experiencing cyberbullying.

Tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, friend, counselor or teacher.

Keep a record (including time and date). This may help you (or the police) to find out who is sending the messages.

Tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, friend, counselor or teacher.

Contact your phone or Internet service provider and report what is happening. They can help you block messages or calls from certain senders.

If messages are threatening or serious, get in touch with the police.  Cyberbullying, if it’s threatening, is illegal. You don’t need to put up with that!

Change your contact details. Get a new user name for the Internet, a new e-mail account or a new cell phone number and only give them out to your closest friends.

Keep your username and passwords secret.  Keep your personal information private so it doesn’t fall into the hands of someone who will misuse it.

To share your cyberbullying experience, register for the forums and post here.

For more information
Embrace Civility in the Digital Age
Pew Internet & American Life Project


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