Cyberbullying is bullying using digital technologies including mobile phones, email and social media tools. Cyberbullying includes:
- pranking: repeated hang-ups, anonymous, mocking or threatening phone calls
- image sharing: forwarding or sharing unflattering or private images without permission
- sexually explicit images: people of any age, who forward or share images of a sexual nature of a person under 18 need to be aware that this is a criminal offence (child pornography) that may result in prosecution
- text and email: sending insulting or threatening text messages or emails
- personal online information: publishing online someone's private, personal or embarrassing information without permission, or spreading rumours online.
- identity theft: assuming someone’s identity online and negatively representing them in a way that damages their reputation or relationships.
- hate sites: creating hate sites or implementing social exclusion campaigns on social networking sites.
It is also cyberbullying when a student, or students, uses technology to run a multi-step campaign to bully another student. For example, setting another student up to be assaulted, video-recording their humiliation, posting the video-recording online and then sending the website address to others.
Cyberbullying vs bullying
While cyberbullying is similar to bullying in some ways, there are also differences.
- Cyberbullying is invasive: It can be difficult to escape and is incredibly invasive. It is more likely to occur outside of school, including while at home, and can happen at any time.
- Cyberbullying can involve a large audience: It can involve harmful material being widely and rapidly shared to a large audience, for example, rumours and images can be posted on public forums or sent to many people at once. This material can also continue to be available and harmful long after cyberbullying has ceased.
- Cyberbullies have a sense of anonymity: It can provide the bully with a sense of relative anonymity and distance from the target, so there is a lack of immediate feedback or consequences.
- Power imbalance: The power imbalance between the ‘bully’ and ‘target’, the repetitive nature of the bullying behaviour and the intent to harm, humiliate, embarrass, ostracise, or isolate can occur in bullying and cyberbullying.
- Types of behaviour: Types of behaviour including spreading rumours and making threats or insults can occur in bullying and cyberbullying.
- Reasons for behaving in a bullying way: People often engage in cyberbullying for the same reasons they engage in bullying.
Advice and safety
Our website has resources to help students, parents and schools to deal with cyberbullying.
- A range of cyberbullying advice sheets explain how to deal with cyberbullying and to learn about cybersafety, refer to Advice sheets
- If you're a teacher and you want to find out how to teach your students to be cyber safe, refer to Classrooms and cybersafety
- Principals can also learn what they can do by checking out Schools and cybersafety
- To report cyberbullying or illegal material, or to investigate online safety information available through the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner, visit the website of Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner
- eSmart Schools has developed an information series that provides resources to support schools with remote learning during COVID-19. To access the series, refer to eSmart Flexible and Remote Learning Resources.