Due to the increase in technology access and less adult supervision, the presence of cyberbullying is rising among adolescents. Cyberbullying consists of repeated, intentional aggressive behaviors, both verbal and relational, towards a targeted peer using technology such as cellphones and the internet. Cyberbullying is more difficult to recognize because unlike traditional in-person bullying, parents, teachers, and other trusted adults are unlikely to see or overhear the bullying taking place. Cyberbullying is also under-reported to adults often because of a fear of losing their electronic device or social media access.
Cyberbullying is most prevalent via the following modalities:
- Social Media
- Online messaging
- Online gaming
Cyberbullying behavior typically consists of embarrassing, harassing, or threatening individuals. This can include sending mean text messages, posting humiliating content on social media, and uploading hurtful videos on platforms like TikTok and Snapchat.
The Impact of Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is as serious as traditional in-person bullying (relational, verbal, and physical) since the emotional effects on the adolescent being bullied are just as devastating. Victims of cyberbullying can face anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem and behavioral problems at the time of victimization and beyond. Research shows that many children and youth who are cyberbullied are often bullied in-person too. The bullying then occurs in school or other in-person social settings, and extends into the home through the electronic devises, making the problem pervasive.
Cyberbullying has distinct challenges when compared to traditional in-person bullying. It can be constant and may feel unescapable, as many adolescents have access to technology 24 hours a day. Additionally, the permanence of cyberbullying is a unique concern because the content posted is public and may never be completely erased. This can make it difficult for victims to move on from the incident. Also, bullies may not realize that cyberbullying can actually be detrimental for their future. Their permanent posts can negatively affect their reputation and impact decisions made by future employers and college admissions.
There are strategies that parents, caregivers, and youth themselves can take to handle cyberbullying. Read more in this CHOP fact sheet.