6 Types of Cyberbullying

Upset teen on smartphone

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Teens are online now more than ever. Every day they use their smartphones, tablets, and computers not only to research material for school but to socialize with friends and family members. In fact, texting and using social media is one of the top ways kids communicate with others. But just like any other social activity, the opportunity for bullying exists.

What Is Cyberbullying?

When a young person uses the Internet or technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another person, this person is called a cyberbully. Typically, cyberbullying involves tweens and teens. But it is not uncommon for adults to experience cyberbullying and public shaming as well. 

Common Cyberbully Methods

While there are a number of different ways kids are bullying others online, the majority of online harassment falls into one of six categories. Here are six of the most common methods of cyberbullying.


Harrasing someone is a common method of online bullying. This may occur when someone uses one of these strategies.

  • Engaging in “warning wars.” (Many internet service providers and social media sites offer a way to report a user who is saying something inappropriate. Kids use these report buttons as a way to get the victim in trouble or kicked offline.)
  • Participating in text wars or text attacks, which occur when bullies gang up on the victim and send thousands of texts. These attacks not only cause emotional distress but create a large cell phone bill.
  • Posting rumors, threats or embarrassing information on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Using text messaging, instant messaging and email to harass, threaten or embarrass the target.


A cyberbully may also impersonate another, causing problems in that person's life. The bully may:

  • Change the target’s online profile to include sexual, racist or other inappropriate things.
  • Develop a screen name that is similar to the victim’s screen name and then posting rude or hurtful remarks while pretending to be the victim.
  • Pretend to be someone else in order to lure an unsuspecting person into a fake relationship. This type of activity is often called catfishing.
  • Set up an account on a social networking site and posting as the victim while saying mean, hurtful or offensive things online. Actual photos of the victim may be used to make the account look authentic.
  • Steal the victim’s password and chatting with other people while pretending to be the victim. The bully will say mean things that offend and anger the victim’s friends or acquaintances.

Inappropriate Photographs

Bullying may include the use of embarrassing or inappropriate images. This may include:

  • Posting nude pictures on photo sharing sites for anyone on the Internet to view and download.
  • Sending mass emails or text messages that include nude or degrading photos of the victim. This behavior is often called “sexting,” and once the photos are sent, there is no way to control it. The photos can be distributed to hundreds of people within just a few hours.
  • Taking nude or degrading pictures of the victim in a locker room, a bathroom or dressing room without his or her permission.
  • Threatening to share embarrassing photos as a way of controlling or blackmailing the victim.
  • Using photographs to shame someone online. One common tactic teens use is to engage in slut shaming. This behavior involves shaming someone, usually a girl, for the way she dresses, acts or the number of people she has dated.

Website Creation

A bully may create a website, blogs, or poll to harass another person. The bully may:

  • Conduct an Internet poll about the victim. Questions in the poll may vary including everything from who is ugly and who smells to who is dumb and who is fat.
  • Create a blog about the victim that is embarrassing, insulting or humiliating.
  • Develop a website with information that is humiliating, embarrassing or insulting for the victim.
  • Post rude, mean or insulting comments about the victim via the chat option of online gaming sites.
  • Post the victim’s personal information and pictures on a website, which puts the victim in danger of being contacted by predators.Spread rumors, lies or gossip about the victim online through websites or blogs.
  • Sending viruses, spyware or hacking programs to the victim in order to spy on the victim or control his or her computer remotely.
  • Use the information that was shared in confidence and making it public.

Video Shaming

The use of videos may be used for online bullying. It may involve:

  • Creating an incident that causes another person to become upset or emotional and then record the incident. This type of activity is often referred to as cyberbaiting. Teachers are a common target for cyberbaiting incidents.
  • Downloading a video of something humiliating and posting it to YouTube in order to allow a larger audience to view the incident.
  • Sharing a video via mass e-mail or text messaging to humiliate and embarrass the victim.
  • Using a camera phone to video and later share a bullying incident, which may include one or more kids slapping, hitting, kicking or punching the victim.

Other Subtle Methods

Methods such as subtweeting or vaguebooking can be used to bully and avoid detection. Methods include:

  • Posting tweets or Facebook posts that never mention the victim's name. Yet the victim, the bully and often a larger audience know who the posts are referencing.
  • Using subtle posts and tweets to fuel the rumor mill while avoiding detection by teachers, administrators, and parents.

A Word From Verywell

Remember cyberbullying involves using social media, smartphones, text messages and online apps as tools and weapons. But they are not the problem. Cyberbullying occurs because of the choices kids make. Restricting your child's digital access will not prevent them from being cyberbullied. In fact, kids can still create a fake profile and impersonate your child online.

Instead of controlling your child's online access, focus your efforts on educating your child about the risks of cyberbullying. Talk to her about how to make smart choices online and how to report cyberbullying if it occurs. Keeping an open dialogue with your kids about cyberbullying is the most effective way to deal with the issue. 

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Article Sources
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