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Cyberbullying on Social Media (What It Is and How to Avoid It)

I like to write about current social media trends so that readers have access to the latest information on topics like cyberbullying.

With dozens of social media apps on the market, teens are more vulnerable to cyberbullying than ever before.

With dozens of social media apps on the market, teens are more vulnerable to cyberbullying than ever before.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Bullying is aggressive behavior that seeks to control or harm others. Bullying is characterized by the repetition of abusive behavior—the harassment must happen more than once or have the potential to happen again in order to be considered bullying.

In order for harassment to be considered bullying, there must also be an apparent imbalance of power between the victim and the perpetrator (or perpetrators), and the harassment must occur over an extended period of time.

Cyberbullying is just bullying that happens electronically (i.e., via any form of electronic communication, such as texting or messaging online, on websites, social networks, e-mail, etc.).


The electronic posting of negative or mean-spirited messages about a person, often done anonymously.

\ˈsī-bər-ˌbu̇-lē, -ˌbə-\ noun or verb

— Merriam Webster Dictionary

What Is Considered Cyberbullying Behavior?

Behaviors that are considered to be cyberbullying include, but are not limited, to:

  • Exclusion
  • Harassment
  • Outing
  • Cyberstalking
  • Impersonation
  • Dissing (insulting)
  • 'Trolling' (intentionally provoking a negative response)
  • 'Catfishing' (using fake profiles to deceive others)

Who Is Affected by Cyberbullying?

According to a 2018 Google Survey, teachers listed cyberbullying as the top online issue with children in the classroom. With the advancement of technology and the rise of social media, today’s youth bring their bullies home with them. Home has become a whole new battleground where bullies are guaranteed anonymity and direct access to their victims on a consistent basis.

A 2019 study revealed that almost 37% of American children aged 12–17 have reported being bullied or harassed over the Internet and via social media outlets. But, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, only a little over 10% of these victims report the incidents.

Where Does Cyberbullying Take Place?

Cyberbullying takes place across virtually every social media platform. Facebook, with its 2.8 billion active users, was unsurprisingly the most common social media network used by bullies in years past (though many teens are gravitating toward other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, these days). The age requirement for Facebook is 13, but there were over 7.5 million users below that age . . . back in 2011. One can only imagine how much that number has swelled in the past decade.

The age restrictions on these social media platforms are rarely enforced. Many argue that young children are not socially or emotionally mature enough to appreciate the consequences of what they post online or send to others via private messenger, but there are also plenty of parents who are largely unconcerned about their kids' use of such sites.

Today's teens have more access to social media than ever before, which has led to a big spike in cyberbullying.

Today's teens have more access to social media than ever before, which has led to a big spike in cyberbullying.

What Are the Effects of Cyberbullying?

According to WebMD:

Effects on the BulliedEffects on the Bullies

Emotional issues (i.e., anxiety, depression)

Emotional issues

Concentration issues

Concentration issues

Behavioral issues

Behavioral issues

Trouble getting along with peers

More likely to be hyperactive

Physical symptoms, such as frequent headaches and stomach pain

More likely to abuse drugs/alcohol

Teen Social Media Usage Statistics

According to a 2018 article from the Pew Research Center:

  • 95% of young people have access to a smartphone, and 45% report being online "almost constantly."
  • The percentage of teen Facebook users dropped from 71% to 51% between 2014 and 2018.
  • As of 2018, Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat were the most popular online platforms among teens (by a wide margin).

How Can Cyberbullying Be Stopped or Avoided?

The only way to completely prevent cyberbullying is to have no online presence, which is hard to accomplish these days. But there are a few ways to tweak your settings and your online behavior to reduce the likelihood of being cyberbullied.

  • Keep your profiles set to private.
  • Monitor and update privacy settings regularly.
  • Don't "friend" or follow anyone who isn't a friend.
  • Don't accept requests or messages from users you don't know.
  • Never share your passwords.
  • Prevent others from gaining access to your profiles and private photos.
  • Educate yourself and others on the negative impact of cyberbullying.
  • If you see it, report it.

For more tips on prevention, check out these helpful tips for preventing cyberbullying.

Cyber Aggression and Social Competence

One major point to be drawn from the data is the strong negative correlation between cyber aggression and social competence. Researchers in one study summarized their results by reporting, “there is a clear-cut relation between being aggressive through electronic media and experiencing problems at (at least) four different levels of social functioning.” This study makes the argument that cyber aggression is dangerous not only for the victim but also for the aggressor.

Additional Resources

Schoffstall, C. (2011). Cyber Aggression: The Relation between Online Offenders and Offline Social Competence. Social Development, 20(3), 587-604

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 JPMorganCCCC


gavinhfgj on September 16, 2019:

this is a strong article

Cupid paynes on July 22, 2019:

I think cyber bulling is not ok

Oliver Geller on June 26, 2019:

This is very well written article on an ongoing issue. Dangerous things such as cyber bullying, trolling are capturing teenagers over the internet. Its good to discuss the dangers of these cyber issues and educate kids in order to keep them safe. There are several ways that can parents to keep their child protected from cyber-bullying

KingStar17 on September 05, 2018:

Thank you for this article that you've shared, a lot of values I've learned and hopefully you make more of it for the good of many and to our mysterious world. :)