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Published: 4 February 2015

Social Media and Teenage Bullying

In a recent article Childhood Bullying – Bullies and Victims we wrote about the impact that bullying has on children and teenagers at school, but there is another form of bullying which has a far more reaching impact on teenagers, and that is bullying via social media.

You may have heard of the saying that “Stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  In the opinion of Psychologists, this saying is far from the truth.  In fact, names and words that occur during cyber bullying can be extremely damaging and can start a life long self esteem problem.  The fact is that ongoing cyber bullying is a traumatic experience, and damages the sense of belonging that youth’s are trying to achieve.

Cyber bullying is a very real issue for young people today and is far more common than parents believe.  Parents need to stop burying their heads in the sand when it comes to technology, and understand that they need to be involved in monitoring what their teenagers are doing online.

Cyber bullying is defined as a young person who torments, threatens, harasses, or embarrasses another young person using social media via the Internet or other technologies, such as mobile phones. The psychological and emotional outcomes of this type of bullying are very similar to those of real-life bullying.

Some of the forms of Cyber Bullying include unwanted text messages or emails with threatening intent, unverified rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles posted on social media sites.

For social media bullies, there is no escape for the targeted child or teenager. And, the problem is getting worse.

The below statistics from the United States will alarm you.

1. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once.

2. 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online.

3. Over 80% of teens use a mobile phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying.

4. 68% of teens agree that cyber bullying is a serious problem.

5. 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.

6. Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.

7. Girls are about twice as likely as boys to be victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying.

8. About 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online. More than 4 out 10 say it has happened more than once.

9. Bullying victims are at least twice as likely to consider committing suicide.

10. About 75% of students admit they have visited a website that had images of bashing another student.


Why is Cyberbullying Different to traditional bullying?

  • Children who are Cyber bullied will have a harder time getting away from the bully.
  • Cyber bullying happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reaches a child or teenager even when he or she is alone and in a safe environment such as home. It happens any time of the day or night.
  • Messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to trace or stop the source.
  • Removing or deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

Effects of Cyber bullying

Youth who are cyber bullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Be unwilling to attend school
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems
  • Develop psychological and social problems
  • Struggle with confidence

What can you do if you suspect your teenager is the victim or perpetrator of cyber bullying?

If you have noticed social media being used to bully your child there is help available.  Don’t let you youth suffer the effects of cyber bullying without learning tools to be resilient to this traumatic experience. Good parenting involves being aware of what is happening with your children when they are online, so it is important that you build a trusting relationship with your child.

If you suspect that your youth may be the bully, then this should be taken seriously, as there is a reason that you child is being the bully and wanting power and control.  Again good parenting involves monitoring your youth’s online activities, and seeking help where needed.

Good parents seek parenting help for this problem and we can help you at Go Psychology.

Call us on (07) 55809212 24 hours a day 7 days a week for any inquiries. We also operate an outreach service.

Article by Dr Paul Bowden, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Go Psychology Robina on the Gold Coast.

To assist parents and teenagers we have made this article Social Media and Teenage Bullying available as a PDF, you can download the article for reference purposes by clicking on the link.

Book an appointment with Paul now