10 Facts About Cyberbullying Every Educator Should Know

Understanding how cyberbullying impacts students and the school environment

two teens using a laptop

School is the center of almost every student's social life. They connect with others, form friendships, and make plans. But when cyberbullying occurs, it upsets the victim's social network. Now people may be talking about them, spreading rumors, or excluding them all together. And, with nearly half of all teens having experienced cyberbullying at some point, this means a large percentage of your student population is dealing with the issue on some level.

As a result, these hurtful actions also impact the school environment for everyone involved -- the bullies, the victims and the bystanders. Therefore, it is critically important for educators to understand cyberbullying. Even if cyberbullying occurs after hours, teachers and administrators need to have a solid grasp on what constitutes cyberbullying and how to respond to it at school. Here are ten facts about cyberbullying every educator should know.

Cyberbullying Carries Over into the Classroom

Even when cyberbullying happens after school hours, the consequences infiltrate the school’s classrooms and hallways during the school day. Consequently, students not only experience high levels of anxiety and worry during school, but they also find it hard to concentrate on their studies. In fact, a number of studies indicate that victims are more likely to report lower grades and other academic problems as a result of cyberbullying. As a result, cyberbullying is quickly becoming a school issue that educators cannot ignore. Not only is school climate impacted, but learning also is affected.

There is More than One Type of Cyberbullying

Texting, chatting and messaging are some of the most common online activities among kids. Combine this with social media use and kids are using technology more than most adults. But just like any other social activity, the opportunity for bullying exists. In fact, there are five primary ways that kids cyberbully others. These include harassing someone, impersonating someone, using photographs, creating online tools like blogs and websites and participating in “happy slapping.” Even vaguebooking and subtweeting have become issues.

The Consequences of Cyberbullying are Significant

Both traditional bullying and cyberbullying cause significant emotional and psychological distress. In fact, just like any other victim of bullying, cyberbullied kids experience fear, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. But targets of cyberbullying also experience some unique consequences as well. These include feeling overwhelmed, vulnerable, powerless, exposed, humiliated, isolated and even disinterested in life.

Victims of Cyberbullying Often Do Not Tell Anyone

Just like victims of traditional bullying, victims of cyberbullying often do not tell anyone about the bullying they are experiencing. The reasons vary from feeling ashamed to worrying that others will think they deserve it. Be sure you know what to look for in your students.

Teaching Digital Etiquette at an Early Age is Important

Educators need to discuss online safety and cyberbullying with their students on a regular basis. In fact, equipping students with digital etiquette skills can go a long way in preventing them from becoming a cyberbully.

There is More than One Reason that Kids Cyberbully Others

One of the first steps to preventing and responding to cyberbullying is understanding why kids engage in the behavior. Although the reasons why kids cyberbully others run the gamut, the most common reasons stem from anger and revenge. Kids also cyberbully to fit in, to spread gossip or even to alleviate boredom.

Kids Even Cyberbully Their Teachers

Kids can and do cyberbully teachers and other adults in the same ways that they cyberbully their classmates. They also may engage in cyberbaiting. Cyberbaiting occurs when a student baits a teacher to overreact in a classroom setting and then videotapes that reaction. Then the student posts the videotape online hoping to embarrass and humiliate the teacher. As a result, teachers need to be prepared to prevent cyberbaiting in their classrooms.

Sexting and Sexual Bullying Are Big Issues

Although it can be easy to assume that sexting and sexual bullying doesn’t happen in your school, it is naïve to believe this. For instance, sexting is a growing problem among teens today. In fact, one study found that as many as 30 percent of teens admit to sending inappropriate texts to friends and more than half of all students have been asked for a nude photo. What's more, the consequences for sexting are significant and should never be ignored.

Kids Will Find Creative Ways to Abuse Technology

Every time a new technology is developed, kids are the first to try it out. Kids also are the first to use technology to bully and harass others. For instance, SnapChat was originally designed to offer texts that last only seconds. But kids quickly learned how to keep the photos and texts for longer and use them to hurt others. Adults may never catch up with what young people can do with technology. But by keeping their ears to the ground they can learn a lot. They also can find ways to keep it from happening and filtering into the school environment.

Do Not Assume Parents are Monitoring a Child’s Technology Use

Sadly, very few parents keep track of their kids’ online activities. For many, it just seems like too big of a task. For this reason, it is important to realize that parents may have no idea what their kids are doing online. This fact doesn’t mean educators need to take over the role of parenting. But knowing this is the case will help them decide how to address issues with parents.

A Word from Verywell Family

Remember, cyberbullying threatens students emotional, and sometimes physical, safety at school. It also can negatively impact their ability to learn. By educating yourself in advance about what to look for at school when it comes to cyberbullying, you will be better equipped to deal with issues when they arise. The key to take cyberbullying seriously and never assume that if it is does off school grounds that it will have no impact on the school learning environment. Because it does.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • "Cyberbullying." JAMA Pediatric Patient Page, May 2014. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1866047

  • "Cyberbullying Statistics." BullyingStatistics.org. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html