When you think of bullying, some of the first images likely to come to mind are those of schoolyard fights, threats and taunting. But technology and social media have given bullying a different form.

Cyberbullying refers to the use of digital technology to harass a person. Like physical bullying, cyberbullying can be harmful and cause distress to the victim. It can also be difficult to detect, sometimes making it hard to know when someone might need help.


Cyberbullying can take a variety of forms.

It can be a private conversation between bully and victim, where the bully is messaging the victim directly. It can also be a lot more public, where posts can be seen bully’s and victim’s friends alike.

Sometimes cyberbullying can be hidden, with bullies using a fake social media profile to cyber assaults. It can involve spreading gossip or rumours online, or even hacking into a person’s social media account and pretending to be them.

One in five children aged 8-17 experience some form of cyberbullying, according to research by the University of New South Wales.


Online bullying doesn't stop

Bullying in any form, at any stage of life is never acceptable. It involves targeting a person with behaviour that is intended to hurt them, either physically or mentally. Cyberbullying takes place online doesn’t mean it is any less damaging.

Cyberbullying is different because computers or mobile phones allow bullying to occur at any time of day. Bully's have contact with their victims whether they are at home, school, or work.


Dealing with Cyberbullying

If you feel you are receiving harassing or unpleasant messages, it is important to log out, close the app, or even put your phone on silent. Responding to the messages, especially when you are feeling upset, can encourage the bully. If necessary, you can block or delete the person in question. You can also report hurtful content to the social media platform, like Facebook.

Remember to keep your personal details such as login and password information confidential. Remember to check on your privacy settings, which can help with blocking people.

It's also important to talk to someone about what is happening. Relationships Australia NT offers a range of counselling services to help you decide on how to best move forward from such a situation.

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