Online bullying, sometimes called cyberbullying, is any behaviour that uses technology and devices to deliberately target or upset someone.

Questions you may have:

  • Does online bullying really happen? Open or Close

    Unfortunately, yes – online bullying is a real problem. The internet is a tool, but how we use it is up to us. Some people choose to deliberately target or harass others, with the intention of upsetting or humiliating them. This is never okay and, for the victims, can be incredibly difficult and damaging.

  • What’s the difference between banter and bullying? Open or Close

    It can be difficult to tell the difference between a message sent online to bully someone, and a message sent online as a joke between friends. However to the recipient, the difference is clear. A joke (or banter) is something that everyone understands and finds funny. Nobody feels like they are being unfairly singled out or targeted. This behaviour becomes bullying when the target does not find it funny, it’s non-consensual or it hurts people’s feelings. Some bullying can be unintentional but this does not make it okay. The hurt and pain caused is still real and what was meant as a joke may still be deeply upsetting or offensive.

  • Why is online bullying so harmful? Open or Close

    Online bullying can take place at any time and can happen anywhere. This can make it hard for the victim to feel safe or like they can escape their bully, who may even be able to reach them in personal safe spaces, like at home. Online bullying can also quickly reach a large audience as messages, pictures or videos can be shared publicly, over a long period of time, through group messages or on social media.

  • I’m being bullied online, please help. Open or Close

    Online bullying is never okay and the most important thing to do is to tell someone. That might be a friend or classmate initially, but speaking to an adult you know and trust is really important. This could be a parent, carer, other family member, teacher, school staff, youth worker or social worker. You could also contact Childline or The Mix. In the meantime, try to save any evidence you have of what’s been happening – take screenshots if you can, or keep a record of any behaviour which forms part of the bullying including times and the people involved. You can also use the report and block buttons to stop the bullies from continuing to contact you.

  • Someone I know is being bullied online, what should I do? Open or Close

    The most important thing is to be there for them. Make sure they know that they’ve got a friend in you and that they can come to you for support. You could also encourage them to speak to an adult about what’s been happening, or show them how to use the report and block buttons to stop any further contact.

  • I have bullied somebody online, how can I get help? Open or Close

    Firstly, well done for admitting that you were in the wrong. If you know that you have upset someone online recently, then it may be worth reaching out to offer an apology - never underestimate the power of saying sorry. If the bullying happened a while ago, then the victim may have moved on and hearing from you could make them feel worse, not better. Talk to an adult about what’s happened and work together to think of ways to prevent it from happening again in the future. You can also reach out to Childline or The Mix who are always there to listen and support, whatever the issue.

  • I was told to ignore my online bully and that they’d stop eventually, is there anything I can do? Open or Close

    “Bullies do it for attention, ignore them and they’ll stop” is well-meaning advice, but you should never have to put up with someone being unkind to you. If it was an adult who gave you that advice, see if there is someone else you can speak to. For example, if a teacher told you to ignore it, could you talk to a parent or carer? Remember you can also reach out to Childline or The Mix too.

  • What can I do if I’m worried about bullying, now that I’m spending more time online? (COVID-19) Open or Close

    An increase in social media use during COVID-19, may also have increased the risk of online bullying. Bullying is always unacceptable and, whilst you may feel more disconnected from others right now – due to spending more time at home, there are still people that you can reach out to for help, such as your friends, family, and teachers.

    With everything that’s going on in the world right now, there’s never been a more important time to be kind to others online. Keep in mind that when posting online, something that you find funny might still be upsetting to someone else. All our usual advice about bullying is still relevant during the pandemic; read the other questions and answers on this page for more information.

Top Tips

  1. Always be kind and respectful online. Remember that just because you’re not saying it to someone’s face, doesn’t make it okay. Bullying online is unacceptable.
  2. Report and block the bullies! Most social media sites and some games have reporting and blocking tools to supports users. Our help page has more information on how to report.
  3. Don’t retaliate. If someone is unkind online, being unkind back won’t help. In fact, it could make the situation worse and you could end up getting in trouble.
  4. Save the evidence using screenshots (or a picture of the screen, if a screenshot isn’t possible) of offending messages, conversations or other situations online involving bullying.
  5. Tell someone! Speak to an adult you trust like a parent, carer or teacher for support and advice on what to do next.