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Cyberbullying

girl on phone while girls behind her whisper

Computers, cellphones, and other kinds of technology can be great. But sometimes they can be used to really hurt someone. Keep reading to learn more about cyberbullying:

What is cyberbullying? arrow. top

Cyberbullying is hurting someone again and again using a computer, a cellphone, or another kind of electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include the following:

  • Texting or emailing insults or nasty rumors about someone
  • Posting mean comments about someone on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites
  • Threatening someone through email or other technology
  • Tricking someone into sharing embarrassing information
  • Forwarding private text messages to hurt or embarrass someone
  • Posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone
  • Pretending to be someone else online to get that person in trouble or embarrass her
  • Creating a website to make fun of someone

Did you know?

Teen girls say meanness lurks on social media. One out of 5 girls ages14 to 17 say people her age are mostly unkind to each other on social media. And one out of 3 girls ages 12 to 13 thought so. Ouch!

Can you take a second to rewind and be kind before you post?

Some teens think it’s easier to get away with bullying online than in person. Also, girls may be more likely to cyberbully than boys. Keep in mind that it’s pretty easy to find out who has been cyberbullying. In fact, cyberbullies can get in a lot of trouble with their schools, and possibly even with the police.

Cyberbullying hurts. It can be easier to type something really mean than to say it to a person. But being cyberbullied can sometimes feel even worse than other kinds of bullying. That’s because cyberbullying can come at you anytime, anywhere and can reach a lot of people.

Being cyberbullied can make you feel angry, afraid, helpless, and terribly sad. Also, teens who are cyberbullied are more likely than other teens to have problems such as using drugs, skipping school, and even getting sick.

If you are being cyberbullied, talk to an adult you trust. An adult can help you figure out how to handle the problem, and can offer you support.

If you are cyberbullying, it’s time to stop. You are not only hurting someone else, you could hurt yourself. You can lose friends and get in trouble with your school or even with the police. If you can’t seem to stop yourself from cyberbullying, get help from an adult you trust.

You may hurt someone online without really meaning to do it. It may seem funny to vote for the ugliest kid in school, for example, but try to think about how that person feels. And if you get a message that makes you mad, go away and come back before writing something you may regret. Nearly half of teenage cellphone users say they regretted a text message they sent. Remember, nothing is really secret or private on the Internet, and things you post online can stay there forever.

How to prevent cyberbullying arrow. top

Here are some tips that may help protect you from being cyberbullied:

  • Don’t give out your passwords or personal information. Even your friends could wind up giving your passwords to someone who shouldn’t have them.
  • Use the privacy options on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr that let you choose who can see what you post.
  • Don’t friend people online if you don’t know them, even if you have friends in common.
  • Be careful about what you write or what images you send or post because nothing is really private on the Internet.
  • If you are using a site like Facebook on a computer in the library, log out before you walk away. If you don’t log out, the next person who uses the computer could get into your account.

If you are cyberbullied arrow. top

If you are cyberbullied, you can get help. Here are some important tips:

  • If someone bullies you, don’t respond. Bullies are looking for a reaction, and you may be able to stop the bullying if you ignore or block the person.
  • Save any evidence of cyberbullying, print it out, and show it to a trusted adult.
  • Use options that let you block email, cellphone, and text messages from a cyberbully. You can also stop a person from seeing your Facebook information. If you need help, ask an adult, your cellphone company, or the website where you want to block someone.
  • If you are being cyberbullied, ask if your school can get involved.
  • Report bullying to your Internet service provider, phone company, email provider, or the website where it happened. Sites like Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have online forms for reporting.
  • Report cyberbullying to police if it involves threats of violence or pornography. Stopbullying.gov has more information on cyberbullying and the law.

Sometimes, teens don’t want to tell their parents that they are being cyberbullied because they are afraid their parents will take away their phone or computer. If you have this concern, tell your parents, and work with them to figure out a solution. The most important thing is for you to be safe.

Sexting and cyberbullying arrow. top

Sexting is sending naked or partly naked photos to someone online or by cellphone. Sometimes, a guy may pressure you to send these kinds of photos. Sometimes, friends may dare you to do it.

It’s a very bad idea to send nude photos or forward someone else’s. Messages can be traced back to you, and photos can quickly get forwarded to a lot of people. You can really hurt someone’s feelings or your own reputation. You can even get in legal trouble for forwarding something that could be considered child pornography.

top green border

One girl’s sexting story

“I had been dating Gary for 8 months, and he was my first boyfriend…. We never had sex, but we did a lot, and even in the heat of things, we’d take sexy pictures of each other with our phones. It wasn’t to be weird or dirty, I completely trusted him, and when we were apart, we’d send the pictures to each other and wish we were together. [After a while,] I started getting really mean posts to my Facebook wall from the girls he’d been hanging out with. Some of them calling me ugly or fat. Some of them saying they’d seen the naked pictures of me on Gary’s phone and they were all laughing at how disgusting I looked.…” Read the whole story.

bottom green border

Examples of cyberbullying arrow. top

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways to hurt someone through technology. Below are some examples.

a cell phone

Cyber scenes

Click on each line below to reveal some ugly truths.

➥ Love, who?

Laurie watched as Emma logged on to her account so she could get Emma’s password. Later, Laurie logged on as Emma and sent a mean message to Emma’s best friend.

➥ Picture this!

Sue, an overweight high schooler, was changing in the locker room after gym class. Annabelle snapped a pic of Sue with her phone and sent it all around school.

➥ Privacy, please!

Karen pretended to be Mara’s friend and sent her a message asking lots of questions. Mara replied with some really personal info. Karen shared what she said and added her own comment, “Mara is a loser!”

➥ Breakup breakdown.

After Sarah broke up with Dave, he started texting her constantly at all times of the day and night.

 

 

Content last reviewed April 15,2014
Page last updated August 29, 2014

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