Cyberbullying can be defined as “the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), particularly mobile phones and the internet, to deliberately upset someone else”. It can include a wide range of unacceptable behaviours, including threats, harassment and insults.
Cyberbullying is a subset of the more general problem of bullying and can be used to carry out various different types of bullying, including racist bullying or bullying related to disabilities. Instead of carrying out bullying in person, cyberbullies make use of technology, particularly the Internet and mobile phones to bully others.
Cyberbullying differs in several ways from face-to-face bullying: it is more invasive of home and personal space and can be carried out at any time of the day or night. Because it is based on electronic messages it can be difficult to control.
The audience for cyberbullying can be very large and easy to reach. A humiliating video can be posted to numerous websites and uploading a nasty website or forwarding a personal email can have long-term consequences.
Cyberbullying usually takes place between children, but it can also happen between adults, and there have been cases of adults, particularly teachers, being bullied or harassed by children.
There have been some studies looking at the extent of cyberbullying amongst children and young people. According to TeacherNet:
- Research carried out for the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) found that 22 per cent of 11 to 16-year-olds had been a victim of cyberbullying.
- Noret and River’s four-year study on bullying (2007) found that 15 per cent of the 11,227 children surveyed had received nasty or aggressive texts and emails.
- Research conducted as part of the DCSF cyberbullying information campaign found that 34 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds reported having been cyberbullied.
Next: Types of Cyberbullying