Cyberbullying is a disrespectful act that does not consider another person’s feelings of safety and belonging. Cyberbullying can involve spreading rumors online, posting embarrassing photos and videos without consent, calling people names and creating separate accounts to bully someone. Cyberbullying can happen between people of the same gender, age or popularity. It can happen to anyone at any time.
When trying to prevent cyberbullying from happening in your home or in your classroom, it is important to consider the following:
When respect is the norm for interacting with others online, cyberbullying is less likely to happen or to be tolerated. When children are taught to think before they post, share or comment on something online, harmful words or actions are less likely to happen. Students whose parents set up boundaries and instill values of being respectful online were more than thirty three percent less likely to be rude or mean to others online (1).
2)Teach what is and is not a joke
Bullying, along with cyberbullying, sometimes involves trying to play off harsh words or actions as “it’s a joke.” Joking and teasing can strengthen the relationship between two people (i.e., classmates and friends) and can create positive relationships and humour (2), however, teasing can quickly become bullying. If the other friend or peer is not getting the joke, or says they want the joking to stop, it is important for others to listen and respect their wishes and boundaries.
Help your youth respond to cyberbullying
If your youth comes to you to say they are experiencing cyberbullying or online harassment, it is important to consider the following:
Try not to over or underreact to a youth being cyberbullied. Overreacting can harm a youth socially and does not teach them appropriate ways to deal with cyberbullying. Underreacting can lead to the child not feeling supported and could lead to more bullying. Even though cyberbullying happens online, it has real effects on an individual’s emotional, social, academic and physical well-being.
2)Teach to not Fight Back and instead Gather Evidence, Report, Delete or Block.
When your child is dealing with cyberbullying from strangers or peers, it is important as the adult or parent to follow the steps listed:
- Encourage your child to not fight back against any harassment or bullying. Not fighting back will make the bullying more likely to stop.
- When gathering evidence, it is important to record any identifying information (names, usernames, location, contact information, time, date, bullying behaviour, etc.).
- Next, report the harassment or bullying to the social media or website’s help centre, to the school, or to the police as needed.
- Finally, delete or block the person as needed (especially if they are a stranger online). Your child or the website’s help centre can show you the steps to do this.
Everyone deserves respect both online and offline. As children explore online for creative, social, and learning reasons, it is important to be aware that cyberbullying can happen, but it can be prevented and dealt with.
 Lee, A. M. (2020, October 22). The Difference Between Teasing and Bullying. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/en/friends-feelings/common-challenges/bullying/difference-between-teasing-and-bullying