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Associations between social media and cyberbullying: a review of the literature

Renee garett.

1 ElevateU, Los Angeles, CA, USA;

Lynwood R. Lord

2 University of California Institute for Prediction Technology, Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Sean D. Young

Cyberbullying is a significant public health concern that can lead to increased risk of mental health issues, including psychological and developmental problems or suicide. However, because cyberbullying is a relatively recent phenomenon, there is a lack of agreement among researchers about the definition and prevalence of cyberbullying as well as methods for measuring its prevalence. In this review, we evaluate papers published between January 2013 to August 2015 that explored cyberbullying through the medium of social media. The aims of the study are to (I) clarify the characteristics of people involved in cyberbullying, and (II) identify the types of instruments used to measure cyberbullying on social media. In particular, we attempt to understand the factors underlying abuser behavior, how abusive behavior affects the well-being of victims, and how bystanders mitigate or contribute to the act of cyberbullying.


Social media has had a profound effect on how young people interact with their peers.

The use of social networking sites has increased tremendously over the past decade, with an estimated 80% of U.S. teenagers now using some form of social media ( 1 , 2 ). Social media websites offer an increasingly broad set of functionality and are characterized by user-generated content and a collective communication style ( 3 ). Unlike traditional websites, social media allows selective sharing of information and content based on settings the user chooses on his or her account. This ability to share has given young people unprecedented access to private information and a readily available platform to leverage that information against others.

Cyberbullying, a growing problem associated with social media use, has become a significant public health concern that can lead to mental and behavioral health issues and an increased risk of suicide. Cyberbullying has been associated with face-to-face confrontations, concern about going to school, and physical altercations ( 4 ). In the United States, a majority of students aged 12 to 18 reported that they were cyberbullied at least twice during the past year ( 5 ). Children who are bullied are more likely to experience symptoms of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, changes in sleep and eating habits, increased feelings of loneliness, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy ( 6 ). Moreover, traditional bullying and cyberbullying victims report self-injurious behavior, suicidal ideation, and exhibit suicidal behaviors at similar levels ( 7 ).

Although the field of research on cyberbullying is relatively new, several cyberbullying literature reviews have been published. These reviews have focused on the consequences of cyberbullying ( 8 ), defining cyberbullying, and reporting its prevalence ( 9 - 11 ). Additionally, other reviews have focused on more narrow topics such as the relationship between cyberbullying and schools ( 12 ), the impact of cyberbullying on adolescents ( 13 ), and influencing school policy ( 14 ). One study, by Berne and colleagues, concentrates solely on the instruments used by researchers to measure cyberbullying ( 15 ).

In this review, we focus on papers that explore the relationship between cyberbullying and social media, with an emphasis on articles that discuss how cyberbullying affects the well-being of young people. The specific aims of the study are (I) to explore the characteristics of people involved in cyberbullying, and (II) to clarify what measurement instruments will lead to consistent, evidence-based evaluations of cyberbullying on social media. In particular, we attempt to understand the factors underlying abuser behavior, the mental health characteristics of victims, and how bystanders mitigate or contribute to the act of cyberbullying.

A systematic search of PubMed and PsycINFO was conducted to identify relevant papers. For each search, the term “cyberbullying” was used as the main search term and one of the following terms was included: social media, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter. In total, we identified 307 papers, with 98 papers appearing in PubMed and 209 listed in PsycINFO ( Figure 1 ).

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Object name is mh-02-2016.12.01-f1.jpg

Flowchart of articles evaluated for the literature review.

There is still some debate about how to define cyberbullying. However, researchers have agreed on a working definition that includes four criteria: (I) the sender must intend to harm the receiver; (II) there is a power imbalance between the sender and receiver (e.g., age, social status, anonymity, physical strength); (III) acts of aggression are usually repeated; and (IV) a personal computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device is used to communicate. For the purposes of this review, this definition was used to parse the search results.

The following inclusion criteria were used to select papers:

  • Published in a peer-reviewed journal between January 2013 to August 2015;
  • Available in electronic form;
  • The acting definition of cyberbullying matched the definition presented above;
  • The research design included a social media platform (e.g., Twitter, Facebook);
  • An empirical study and original dataset was used (i.e., not a literature review).

Using these guidelines eliminated papers that discussed similar concepts to cyberbullying, such as flaming or harassment. The search results returned numerous papers that discussed traditional bullying but not cyberbullying. Furthermore, many papers evaluated cyberbullying, but did not explore the relationship between cyberbullying and social media; these papers were eliminated from the analysis.

Our initial evaluation of 307 papers resulted in 73 papers being selected for in-depth review. The in-depth review focused on criteria points 3 to 5 above to ensure that each paper detailed an independent empirical study of cyberbullying and its relationship to social media. The in-depth review was completed by a team of two reviewers who worked independently, and a third reviewer made the final selection of papers to retain for the analysis ( Figure 1 ).

Data analysis

Data extracted from the papers comprised the following categories: (I) author(s) and year of publication; (II) sample characteristics (sample size, % female, school level, and country); (III) study characteristics (social media platform used for cyberbullying, subpopulation studied, and purpose/objective of paper); (IV) factors significantly related to cyberbullying for the population researched (bullies, victims, bystanders); and (V) cyberbullying definition and frequency (i.e., instrument used to measure cyberbullying and the reported frequency of bullying/cyberbullying).

First, we categorized studies according to the instrument used to measure cyberbullying. The breakdown of instruments was similar to that reported by Berne and colleagues ( 15 ), but was not as extensive. Second, we created a list of the various factors mentioned in each text to explain cyberbullying and to characterize subjects in the study. The papers focused on three subpopulations: victims, bullies, and bystanders. The researchers ran a regression model or conducted a correlation analysis in order to estimate the relationship between cyberbullying and numerous different factors. In these regression models/correlation matrices, a measure of cyberbullying was used as an independent or dependent variable. The factors or variables of interest in the models served as characteristics of the three different subpopulations. If a factor was found to be statistically significant or highly correlated with a measure of cyberbullying, it was added to a list of factors that explain cyberbullying (with respect to each subpopulation).

There was a steady increase in the number of cyberbullying studies published during the 3-year review period: 1 each in 2013 and 2014 (4.5%, respectively), 7 in 2014 (31.8%), and 11 in 2015 (50%). Appendix A summarizes the 22 papers that were reviewed.

There was a general consensus that cyberbullying only affects youths. Of the 22 papers, 14 (63.6%) used a sample consisting of middle school/high school students, 9 (40.9%) included university students, and 3 (13.6%) included primary school students. This youth-oriented focus resulted in 20 (90.9%) of studies being sampled by the school level. The average sample consisted of seven schools, with 7 (31.8%) studies sampling from a single school; 5 (22.7%) studies failed to report the number of schools. Similarly, 6 (27.2%) studies used a non-random convenience sample and 12 (54.5%) studies used some type of randomization. Overall, the average sample size was 129.9 (54.2% female) and the majority of studies did not collect data longitudinally (n=20; 90.9% of the studies consisted of a one-time data collection event).

The most commonly cited social media platforms were Facebook (n=10, 45.4%) and MySpace (n=3, 13.6%). Four other platforms were mentioned, but they were infrequently cited: instant messaging was mentioned twice (9.1%) and Twitter, Instagram, and chat rooms each received one mention (4.6%).


The most prevalent instruments used to measure cyberbullying were multi-question surveys (45.4%) followed by direct questions (27.3%) ( Table 1 ). The multi-question surveys ranged from 9 to 32 questions in length. Both the multi-survey instruments and the “direct question to subject” instruments asked subjects to recall a period of time ranging from the previous week to the previous year. Of the 10 studies that used multi-question instruments, 9 used instruments featured in previous studies.

*, of the 10 papers, 9 (40.9%) used survey tools that were established in previous research papers; † , time periods ranged from the previous week to the previous year.

To identify the characteristics of individuals involved in cyberbullying, we began by classifying studies according to subpopulation. Studies most frequently researched cyberbullying victims (n=15, 68.2%) or bullies (n=11, 50%), and a smaller number evaluated bystanders (n=7, 31.9%). Ten (45.4%) studies examined both victims and bullies, 5 (22.7%) studies looked at victims alone, and 1 (4.5%) study looked at bullies alone.

As noted above, all multi-question and direct-question instruments asked subjects to recall a specific period of time. For instance, “In the previous year, how many times were you cyberbullied?” Of 13 studies that reported on the prevalence of cyberbullying within their sample, 12 reported timeframes ranging from 1 month to 1 year. These 12 papers used the criteria of being “cyberbullied at least once” during that timeframe as their definition of having experienced cyberbullying ( Table 2 ). When a subject provided a smaller timeframe or was asked about more frequent bullying, the prevalence rate lowered. For example, Navarro and colleagues noted that only 2.9% of their subjects reported being cyberbullied multiple times per week (1.8% reported being bullied multiple times a week) ( 16 ).

This table reports the average levels of bullying/cyberbullying seen in the literature. Four (17%) papers failed to report any values and 5 (21%) papers did not research victim/bully subpopulations.

The findings in each paper were analyzed to create a list of characteristics for the cyberbullying subpopulations. The majority of papers (n=15, 68.2%) modeled cyberbullying/conducted a correlation analysis of cyberbullying or proposed a model that used cyberbullying as an independent variable. Five other papers (22.7%) explored the motivations/perceptions of bystanders with respect to cyberbullying. Only those characteristics found to be statistically significant or highly correlated with cyberbullying were added to the list for each subpopulation. Characteristics of victims (n=21), cyberbullies (n=17), and bystanders (n=10) were compiled. A list of the most commonly cited characteristics was compiled for Table 3 .

We found that the most commonly used instruments are sophisticated surveys designed to measure multiple dimensions of cyberbullying. In many studies, researchers favored the use of tailored instruments for each subpopulation. The use of complex questionnaires reflects growing sophistication in the field, but it also indicates a lack of agreement on which instrument to use. Of the nine studies that used instruments from previously published work, the most frequently referenced source was from Olweus ( 17 ) in three studies. In our analysis, 18 of the 22 (81.8%) studies were published in 2014 or 2015, which reflects the burgeoning state of the field of social media research and cyberbullying.

We agree with the conclusion posited by Berne et al . ( 15 ) that the lack of consensus regarding cyberbullying instruments reflects the fact that there is little agreement as to the exact concept being researched (i.e., cyberbullying, electronic bullying, and/or Internet harassment). In counterpoint, this may be the reason why researchers use multiple-dimension surveys: the instruments are used to account for the complexity of cyberbullying/harassment over social media, with specific measures geared toward various aspects of well-being. Another method used to handle complexity was to simplify the concept of cyberbullying for the subjects. Six studies (27.3%) supplied a statement that defined cyberbullying and then asked a direct question based on that definition (e.g., “How many times were you cyberbullied in the last months?”). Two papers (9.1%) went so far as to narrow the working definition of cyberbullying to refer to negative comments and/or embarrassing photos (n=2, 9.1%).

When evaluating the characteristics of the subpopulations, we found that the literature has advanced beyond limited objectives that estimate the frequency of cyberbullying. While 13 studies (59.1%) did report this value, the majority of papers (68.2%) focused on modeling the relationship between cyberbullying and other independent variables. A common question in many papers was, why do some people become cyberbullies, victims, or bystanders?

Unfortunately, there was little agreement among the studies when it came to interpreting how to distinguish these three categories. The high degree of variability in the findings is reflected in the large number of significant characteristics (17 for bullies and 21 for victims) and the minimal overlap between the findings. The most common characteristics of a bully and victim were found in only 20% and 18% of studies, respectively. In fact, one of the more consistent findings was that the variables were found to be not significant. In at least 3 (27.2%) papers that focused on victims, variables such as age, gender, and ethnicity were found to not be significantly related to cyberbullying, which suggests that the field remains relatively open.

Furthermore, the papers we reviewed did not reveal why bullies and victims assumed their respective roles. We did note that certain characteristics were common among cyberbullies (e.g., being a victim of bullying themselves), and among victims, symptoms of depression were common. More details about these characteristics are listed in Table 3 .

Finding a solution to cyberbullying was an implicit objective of the studies evaluated for this review, yet there was a lack of consensus among papers concerned with bullies or victims. However, the work on bystanders provided several interesting insights. Of the five papers that focused solely on bystanders, four were experimental studies that introduced interventions designed to influence bystander behavior. Several solutions to engaging bystanders are suggested, with the most common being social support for or against a bully. Two papers found that if others publicly disagreed with a bully, then a bystander was more likely to also disagree and intervene in favor of the victim. However, if others publicly joined the bully, then a bystander was more likely to agree with the bully and intervene in favor of the bully.

Several papers attempted to estimate the relationship between cyberbullying and another concept that could be impacted by cyberbullying. For example, in Cénat et al . ( 18 ) and Bauman and Baldasare ( 19 ), cyberbullying was used as an independent variable in a model that measured psychological distress as the dependent variable. Navarro and colleagues ( 20 ) conducted a similar analysis, but instead looked at the relationship between cyberbullying and happiness at school.

One limitation of our study was that we may not have evaluated enough papers to make firm conclusions. Four keyword combination searches were used in order to obtain the final selection of papers, but the literature on social media-based cyberbullying is new and evolving nearly as quickly as the technology itself. This made it difficult to create the most effective keyword searches. An additional limitation is that the study did not use a meta-analysis methodology, which may have proven useful for determining factors associated with the three subpopulations.

Future research should aim to create a standardized set of instruments to evaluate cyberbullying. While some studies appear to have made an important impact and informed the general approach to cyberbullying (e.g., the work of Olweus ( 17 )], the large number of multi-question surveys suggests a need for accurate, reliable instruments. Only with consistent reporting of the incidence and features of cyberbullying will we be able to develop focused prevention strategies.

Future research should aim to advance the cyberbully modeling work outlined in this review, which can be done in three suggested directions. The first suggestion relates to the lack of reliable instruments. This lack of consistency could be indicative of instruments that are not measuring the same concept or are failing to measure significant indications of cyberbullying. Furthermore, there was a significant degree of variability in the nature of the questions posed by the study authors. For example, some researchers focused their questions on negative comments to postings ( 21 ), some focused on the media that was used ( 22 ), others focused on the number of cyberbullying incidents during a particular time period ( 23 ), and still others focused on the emotional impact of the interaction ( 24 , 25 ). This suggests the need for a standardized set of questions that focuses on content and disregards platform.

The second suggestion is to improve study design. Asking a sample of young people their experience with cyberbullying is a sensitive and deeply personal topic for many youth (80.9% of the papers surveyed youth who were high school level or lower). One indication of this problem is that the average non-reply/refuse-to-participate rate was 39% in one study, and as high as 91% in another study. Moreover, most studies required parental consent, which was often obtained via a letter brought home by the student or mailed to parents by school administrators. These refusal rates suggest that many samples in the literature underrepresent the number of children affected by cyberbullying. One worrisome indication of this lack of representation is that the majority of independent variables were found to be insignificant in several studies ( 20 , 23 ). However, it is possible that the students most likely to be cyberbullied are also the most likely to not participate in a cyberbullying study.

The third suggestion is that researchers should limit their objectives and focus on specific aspects of subpopulations. Many studies started with a broad concept of cyberbullying and then designed a model with a similarly broad array of independent variables. By increasing specificity, future research could supply more practical results.


The authors wish to acknowledge Justin P. Smith for his assistance on the data analysis and a previous version of this manuscript. The authors wish to thank Claire Houlihan for her help conducting the literature review.

Funding: This work was funded by the National Institute on Mental Health and the University of California Office of the President Award to the University of California Institute for Prediction Technology.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Social Media: Cyberbullying, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 521

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Social media is hailed as beneficial or detrimental by many. There is a constant argument as to whether the safety issues that social media presents is worth the entertainment value of being in constant contact with friends and family. Overall, it appears that social media has been detrimental to the emotional and educational growth of Americans over the past 10 years. While these applications have contributed to our ability to remain social, communications that occur over social media platforms have the ability to cause negative emotions and distract us from our work. Cyberbullying is related to both the reduction of emotional and educational growth of the population, and is it important to understand the relationships between these phenomena so that they could be put to an end.

Cyberbullying is responsible for the reduction of emotional growth of today’s children. Since children that use social media platforms are in constant communication with one another, there is an increased ability for bullying to occur without the knowledge of a parent or adult. As a consequence, many students are silently suffering from this victimization and there is no way to intervene with these attacks if the child does not report this abuse. Unfortunately, it is also challenging to trace back this behavior to a particular child even if it is reported. It is possible for parents to monitor their children’s social media profiles, but very frequently, parents elect to not do so in order to respect the privacy of their children. To prevent such behaviors, it is important to make children feel safe about reporting this negative treatment so that this harassment could be put to an end.

While many people argue that social media is distracting and therefore results in reduced grades, it is also important to consider that a major symptom of cyberbullying is a sudden drop in grades. Therefore, students who are bullied suffer from both an emotional and educational deficit. This indicates that it is important for schools to monitor the grades and behaviors of their students to determine whether they could be experiencing a traumatic event that is contributing to their failure to thrive. Since schools are considered responsible for both promoting a safe environment and academic growth, it is also the responsibility of the teachers and administration to detect and rectify problems related to cyberbullying. The decline in academic performance should be a red flag that raises concern of all adults involved in the child’s life, indicating the need for an intervention to take place.

In conclusion, social media is often said to have many advantages. However, when children are the victims of cyberbullying, their emotional and educational growth becomes stunted. It is therefore the responsibility of parents, administrators, and teachers to collaborate to recognize the symptoms of cyberbullying and to enact interventions as appropriate to ensure that these attacks are put to an end. As social media becomes more prevalent, it is likely that problems related to cyberbullying will continue to increase. Thus, it is necessary to determine systematic ways to prevent these cyberattacks from occurring, protecting the nation’s youth emotionally and academically before these problems become physical in nature.

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Cyber Bullying Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on cyber bullying.

Cyber Bullying Essay: In today’s world which has been made smaller by technology, new age problems have been born. No doubt technology has a lot of benefits; however, it also comes with a negative side. It has given birth to cyberbullying. To put it simply, cyberbullying refers to the misuse of information technology with the intention to harass others.

cyber bullying essay

Subsequently, cyberbullying comes in various forms. It doesn’t necessarily mean hacking someone’s profiles or posing to be someone else. It also includes posting negative comments about somebody or spreading rumors to defame someone. As everyone is caught up on the social network, it makes it very easy for anyone to misuse this access.

In other words, cyberbullying has become very common nowadays. It includes actions to manipulate, harass and defame any person. These hostile actions are seriously damaging and can affect anyone easily and gravely. They take place on social media, public forums, and other online information websites. A cyberbully is not necessarily a stranger; it may also be someone you know.

Cyber Bullying is Dangerous

Cyberbullying is a multi-faced issue. However, the intention of this activity is one and the same. To hurt people and bring them harm. Cyberbullying is not a light matter. It needs to be taken seriously as it does have a lot of dangerous effects on the victim.

Moreover, it disturbs the peace of mind of a person. Many people are known to experience depression after they are cyberbullied. In addition, they indulge in self-harm. All the derogatory comments made about them makes them feel inferior.

It also results in a lot of insecurities and complexes. The victim which suffers cyberbullying in the form of harassing starts having self-doubt. When someone points at your insecurities, they only tend to enhance. Similarly, the victims worry and lose their inner peace.

Other than that, cyberbullying also tarnishes the image of a person. It hampers their reputation with the false rumors spread about them. Everything on social media spreads like wildfire. Moreover, people often question the credibility. Thus,  one false rumor destroys people’s lives.

Get the huge list of more than 500 Essay Topics and Ideas

How to Prevent Cyber Bullying?

Cyberbullying prevention is the need of the hour. It needs to be monitored and put an end to. There are various ways to tackle cyberbullying. We can implement them at individual levels as well as authoritative levels.

Firstly, always teach your children to never share personal information online. For instance, if you list your home address or phone number there, it will make you a potential target of cyberbullying easily.

social media cyberbullying essay

Secondly, avoid posting explicit photos of yourself online. Also, never discuss personal matters on social media. In other words, keep the information limited within your group of friends and family. Most importantly, never ever share your internet password and account details with anyone. Keep all this information to yourself alone. Be alert and do not click on mysterious links, they may be scams. In addition, teach your kids about cyberbullying and make them aware of what’s wrong and right.

In conclusion, awareness is the key to prevent online harassment. We should make the children aware from an early age so they are always cautious. Moreover, parents must monitor their children’s online activities and limit their usage. Most importantly, cyberbullying must be reported instantly without delay. This can prevent further incidents from taking place.

FAQs on Cyber Bullying

Q.1 Why is Cyberbullying dangerous?

A.1 Cyberbullying affects the mental peace of a person. It takes a toll on their mental health. Moreover, it tarnishes the reputation of an individual.

Q.2 How to prevent cyberbullying?

A.2 We may prevent cyberbullying by limiting the information we share online. In addition, we must make children aware of the forms of cyberbullying and its consequences.

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78 Cyber Bullying Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best cyber bullying topic ideas & essay examples, 💡 interesting topics to write about cyber bullying, 👍 good essay topics on cyber bullying, ❓ questions about cyberbullying research.

  • Cyber Bullying Issue Therefore, the goal of this paper is to analyse who the victims of cyber bullying are and the influence it has on them.
  • Cyber Bullying and Positivist Theory of Crime Learning theory approaches to the explanation of criminal behavior have been associated with one of the major sociological theories of crime, the differential association theory.
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  • Cyber Bullying and Its Forms The difference between the conventional way of bullying and cyber bullying is that in conventional bullying, there is contact between the bully and the victim.
  • Ethics in Technology: Cyber Crimes Furthermore, the defendant altered the data, which compromised the integrity of the information to the detriment of the organizations involved. In this litigation, Aleksey Vladimirovich Ivanov was the defendant while the American government was the […]
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  • Information Technology – Role of Social Networking Cites in Cyber Bullying
  • Cyber Bullying : A Consistent Problem For Young People
  • Cause And Effect Of Cyber Bullying
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  • Is Cyberbullying Related to a Lack of Empathy and Social-Emotional Problems?
  • How Often Do Celebrities Suffer From Cyberbullying?
  • What Are the Characteristics of Cyberbullying Among Students?
  • How Does Social Integration of Children Help to Combat Cyberbullying?
  • What Is the Correlation Between Suicide Rates and Cyberbullying?
  • How Does Cyberbullying Affect Society?
  • What Is the Correlation Between Depression, Bullying and Cyberbullying?
  • Are There Gender Differences in Cyberbullying?
  • What Is the Criminal Penalty for Cyberbullying?
  • What International Associations Prevent Cyberbullying?
  • What Is the Role of Affective and Cognitive Empathy in Cyberbullying?
  • What Are the Solutions to Cyberbullying?
  • Can Cyberbullying Be Called Cyber Crime?
  • What Is the Role of Teachers in Preventing Cyberbullying?
  • Can Internet Privacy Be Enough to Prevent Cyberbullying?
  • How Does Cyberbullying Affect Children?
  • How Many American Teenagers Are Cyberbullied?
  • How Does Cyberbullying Affect Mental Health?
  • How Is Cyberbullying Different From Physical Bullying?
  • Is Cyberbullying an Example of Psychological Abuse?
  • Can School Policies Reduce Cyberbullying?
  • How Does Cyberbullying Affect Teenagers’ Self-Esteem?
  • What Are the Consequences of Cyberbullying?
  • Has the Proliferation of Social Media Led to an Increase in Cyberbullying?
  • Is Cyberbullying Less Criminal Than Traditional Bullying?
  • Cyber Security Topics
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  • Crime Ideas
  • Mental Health Essay Ideas
  • Fake News Research Ideas
  • Internet Research Ideas
  • Freedom of Speech Ideas
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Social Media and Cyberbullying

  • First Online: 16 March 2023

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social media cyberbullying essay

  • Jenna Margolis 3 &
  • Dinara Amanbekova 3  

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All over the world, teens are constantly engaged on social media: refreshing their Facebook feeds, liking a post on Instagram, sending a Snapchat message to their friends. In the United States, 95% of adolescents now have a smartphone and as mobile-optimized social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and others continue to grow in popularity, adolescents are spending more of their time navigating a complex virtual world. With this massive increase in virtual social participation comes the benefit of accessing information, gaining knowledge, and connecting with others, and the negative cost of social conflict, primarily in the form of cyberbullying. Studies demonstrate that cyberbullying, or the intentional harm of others through computers, cellphones, and other electronic devices, is becoming increasingly pervasive among youth. This impacts both the victim and the perpetrator. Being a victim of cyberbullying has various negative health implications, including increased rates of depression, suicidality, and substance use in youth.

This chapter aims to define cyberbullying in the context of social media and explore the wide-ranging impact that social media cyberbullying has on youth mental health. Recommendations for how parents, schools, and clinicians can help children navigate social media safely and approach cyberbullying are provided.

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Margolis, J., Amanbekova, D. (2023). Social Media and Cyberbullying. In: Spaniardi, A., Avari, J.M. (eds) Teens, Screens, and Social Connection. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24804-7_6

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Teens and Cyberbullying 2022

Nearly half of u.s. teens have been bullied or harassed online, with physical appearance being seen as a relatively common reason why. older teen girls are especially likely to report being targeted by online abuse overall and because of their appearance, table of contents.

  • Age and gender are related to teens’ cyberbullying experiences, with older teen girls being especially likely to face this abuse
  • Black teens are about twice as likely as Hispanic or White teens to say they think their race or ethnicity made them a target of online abuse
  • Black or Hispanic teens are more likely than White teens to say cyberbullying is a major problem for people their age
  • Roughly three-quarters of teens or more think elected officials and social media sites aren’t adequately addressing online abuse
  • Large majorities of teens believe permanent bans from social media and criminal charges can help reduce harassment on the platforms
  • Acknowledgments
  • Methodology

Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand teens’ experiences with and views on bullying and harassment online. For this analysis, we surveyed 1,316 U.S. teens. The survey was conducted online by Ipsos from April 14 to May 4, 2022.

This research was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, which is an independent committee of experts that specializes in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents who were a part of its  KnowledgePanel , a probability-based web panel recruited primarily through national, random sampling of residential addresses. The survey is weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with parents by age, gender, race, ethnicity, household income and other categories.

Here are the  questions used for this report , along with responses, and  its methodology .

While bullying existed long before the internet, the rise of smartphones and social media has brought a new and more public arena into play for this aggressive behavior.

social media cyberbullying essay

Nearly half of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 (46%) report ever experiencing at least one of six cyberbullying behaviors asked about in a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 14-May 4, 2022. 1

The most commonly reported behavior in this survey is name-calling, with 32% of teens saying they have been called an offensive name online or on their cellphone. Smaller shares say they have had false rumors spread about them online (22%) or have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for (17%).

Some 15% of teens say they have experienced someone other than a parent constantly asking them where they are, what they’re doing or who they’re with, while 10% say they have been physically threatened and 7% of teens say they have had explicit images of them shared without their consent.

In total, 28% of teens have experienced multiple types of cyberbullying.

Defining cyberbullying in this report

This report measures cyberbullying of teens using six distinct behaviors:

  • Offensive name-calling
  • Spreading of false rumors about them
  • Receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for
  • Physical threats
  • Constantly being asked where they are, what they’re doing, or who they’re with by someone other than a parent
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent

Teens who indicate they have personally experienced any of these behaviors online or while using their cellphone are considered targets of cyberbullying in this report. The terms “cyberbullying” and “online harassment” are used interchangeably throughout this report.

Teens’ experiences with online harassment vary by age. Some 49% of 15- to 17-year-olds have experienced at least one of the six online behaviors, compared with 42% of those ages 13 to 14. While similar shares of older and younger teens report being the target of name-calling or rumor spreading, older teens are more likely than their younger counterparts (22% vs. 11%) to say someone has sent them explicit images they didn’t ask for, an act sometimes referred to as cyberflashing ; had someone share explicit images of them without their consent, in what is also known as revenge porn (8% vs. 4%); or been the target of persistent questioning about their whereabouts and activities (17% vs. 12%).

A bar chart showing that older teen girls more likely than younger girls or boys of any age to have faced false rumor spreading, constant monitoring online, as well as cyberbullying overall

While there is no gender difference in having ever experienced online abuse, teen girls are more likely than teen boys to say false rumors have been spread about them. But further differences are seen when looking at age and gender together: 15- to 17-year-old girls stand out for being particularly likely to have faced any cyberbullying, compared with younger teen girls and teen boys of any age. Some 54% of girls ages 15 to 17 have experienced at least one of the six cyberbullying behaviors, while 44% of 15- to 17-year-old boys and 41% of boys and girls ages 13 to 14 say the same. These older teen girls are also more likely than younger teen girls and teen boys of any age to report being the target of false rumors and constant monitoring by someone other than a parent.

White, Black and Hispanic teens do not statistically differ in having ever been harassed online, but specific types of online attacks are more prevalent among certain groups. 2 For example, White teens are more likely to report being targeted by false rumors than Black teens. Hispanic teens are more likely than White or Black teens to say they have been asked constantly where they are, what they’re doing or who they’re with by someone other than a parent.

There are also differences by household income when it comes to physical threats. Teens who are from households making less than $30,000 annually are twice as likely as teens living in households making $75,000 or more a year to say they have been physically threatened online (16% vs. 8%).

A bar chart showing that older teen girls stand out for experiencing multiple types of cyberbullying behaviors

Beyond those differences related to specific harassing behaviors, older teen girls are particularly likely to say they experience multiple types of online harassment. Some 32% of teen girls have experienced two or more types of online harassment asked about in this survey, while 24% of teen boys say the same. And 15- to 17-year-olds are more likely than 13- to 14-year-olds to have been the target of multiple types of cyberbullying (32% vs. 22%).

These differences are largely driven by older teen girls: 38% of teen girls ages 15 to 17 have experienced at least two of the harassing behaviors asked about in this survey, while roughly a quarter of younger teen girls and teen boys of any age say the same.

Beyond demographic differences, being the target of these behaviors and facing multiple types of these behaviors also vary by the amount of time youth spend online. Teens who say they are online almost constantly are not only more likely to have ever been harassed online than those who report being online less often (53% vs 40%), but are also more likely to have faced multiple forms of online abuse (37% vs. 21%).

These are some of the findings from a Pew Research Center online survey of 1,316 U.S. teens conducted from April 14 to May 4, 2022.

There are numerous reasons why a teen may be targeted with online abuse. This survey asked youth if they believed their physical appearance, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation or political views were a factor in them being the target of abusive behavior online.

A bar chart showing that teens are more likely to think they've been harassed online because of the way they look than their politics

Teens are most likely to say their physical appearance made them the target of cyberbullying. Some 15% of all teens think they were cyberbullied because of their appearance.

About one-in-ten teens say they were targeted because of their gender (10%) or their race or ethnicity (9%). Teens less commonly report being harassed for their sexual orientation or their political views – just 5% each.

Looking at these numbers in a different way, 31% of teens who have personally experienced online harassment or bullying think they were targeted because of their physical appearance. About one-in-five cyberbullied teens say they were targeted due to their gender (22%) or their racial or ethnic background (20%). And roughly one-in-ten affected teens point to their sexual orientation (12%) or their political views (11%) as a reason why they were targeted with harassment or bullying online.

A bar chart showing that Black teens are more likely than those who are Hispanic or White to say they have been cyberbullied because of their race or ethnicity

The reasons teens cite for why they were targeted for cyberbullying are largely similar across major demographic groups, but there are a few key differences. For example, teen girls overall are more likely than teen boys to say they have been cyberbullied because of their physical appearance (17% vs. 11%) or their gender (14% vs. 6%). Older teens are also more likely to say they have been harassed online because of their appearance: 17% of 15- to 17-year-olds have experienced cyberbullying because of their physical appearance, compared with 11% of teens ages 13 to 14.

Older teen girls are particularly likely to think they have been harassed online because of their physical appearance: 21% of all 15- to 17-year-old girls think they have been targeted for this reason. This compares with about one-in-ten younger teen girls or teen boys, regardless of age, who think they have been cyberbullied because of their appearance.

A teen’s racial or ethnic background relates to whether they report having been targeted for cyberbullying because of race or ethnicity. Some 21% of Black teens report being made a target because of their race or ethnicity, compared with 11% of Hispanic teens and an even smaller share of White teens (4%).

There are no partisan differences in teens being targeted for their political views, with 5% of those who identify as either Democratic or Republican – including those who lean toward each party – saying they think their political views contributed to them being cyberbullied.

In addition to measuring teens’ own personal experiences with cyberbullying, the survey also sought to understand young people’s views about online harassment more generally.

social media cyberbullying essay

The vast majority of teens say online harassment and online bullying are a problem for people their age, with 53% saying they are a major problem. Just 6% of teens think they are not a problem.

Certain demographic groups stand out for how much of a problem they say cyberbullying is. Seven-in-ten Black teens and 62% of Hispanic teens say online harassment and bullying are a major problem for people their age, compared with 46% of White teens. Teens from households making under $75,000 a year are similarly inclined to call this type of harassment a major problem, with 62% making this claim, compared with 47% of teens from more affluent homes. Teen girls are also more likely than boys to view cyberbullying as a major problem.

Views also vary by community type. Some 65% of teens living in urban areas say online harassment and bullying are a major problem for people their age, compared with about half of suburban and rural teens.

Partisan differences appear as well: Six-in-ten Democratic teens say this is a major problem for people their age, compared with 44% of Republican teens saying this.

In recent years, there have been several initiatives and programs aimed at curtailing bad behavior online, but teens by and large view some of those behind these efforts – including social media companies and politicians – in a decidedly negative light.

A bar chart showing that large majorities of teens think social media sites and elected officials are doing an only fair to poor job addressing online harassment

According to teens, parents are doing the best of the five groups asked about in terms of addressing online harassment and online bullying, with 66% of teens saying parents are doing at least a good job, including one-in-five saying it is an excellent job. Roughly four-in-ten teens report thinking teachers (40%) or law enforcement (37%) are doing a good or excellent job addressing online abuse. A quarter of teens say social media sites are doing at least a good job addressing online harassment and cyberbullying, and just 18% say the same of elected officials. In fact, 44% of teens say elected officials have done a poor job addressing online harassment and online bullying.

Teens who have been cyberbullied are more critical of how various groups have addressed online bullying than those who haven’t

social media cyberbullying essay

Teens who have experienced harassment or bullying online have a very different perspective on how various groups have been handling cyberbullying compared with those who have not faced this type of abuse. Some 53% of teens who have been cyberbullied say elected officials have done a poor job when it comes to addressing online harassment and online bullying, while 38% who have not undergone these experiences say the same (a 15 percentage point gap). Double-digit differences also appear between teens who have and have not been cyberbullied in their views on how law enforcement, social media sites and teachers have addressed online abuse, with teens who have been harassed or bullied online being more critical of each of these three groups. These harassed teens are also twice as likely as their peers who report no abuse to say parents have done a poor job of combatting online harassment and bullying.

Aside from these differences based on personal experience with cyberbullying, only a few differences are seen across major demographic groups. For example, Black teens express greater cynicism than White teens about how law enforcement has fared in this space: 33% of Black teens say law enforcement is doing a poor job when it comes to addressing online harassment and online bullying; 21% of White teens say the same. Hispanic teens (25%) do not differ from either group on this question.

Teens have varying views about possible actions that could help to curb the amount of online harassment youth encounter on social media.

A bar chart showing that half of teens think banning users who bully or criminal charges against them would help a lot in reducing the cyberbullying teens may face on social media

While a majority of teens say each of five possible solutions asked about in the survey would at least help a little, certain measures are viewed as being more effective than others.

Teens see the most benefit in criminal charges for users who bully or harass on social media or permanently locking these users out of their account. Half of teens say each of these options would help a lot in reducing the amount of harassment and bullying teens may face on social media sites.

About four-in-ten teens think that if social media companies looked for and deleted posts they think are bullying or harassing (42%) or if users of these platforms were required to use their real names and pictures (37%) it would help a lot in addressing these issues. The idea of forcing people to use their real name while online has long existed and been heavily debated: Proponents see it as a way to hold bad actors accountable and keep online conversations more civil , while detractors believe it would do little to solve harassment and could even  worsen it .

Three-in-ten teens say school districts monitoring students’ social media activity for bullying or harassment would help a lot. Some school districts already use digital monitoring software to help them identify worrying student behavior on school-owned devices , social media and other online platforms . However, these programs have been met with criticism regarding privacy issues , mixed results and whether they do more harm than good .

A chart showing that Black or Hispanic teens more optimistic than White teens about the effectiveness of five potential solutions to curb online abuse

Having personally experienced online harassment is unrelated to a teen’s view on whether these potential measures would help a lot in reducing these types of adverse experiences on social media. Views do vary widely by a teen’s racial or ethnic background, however.

Black or Hispanic teens are consistently more optimistic than White teens about the effectiveness of each of these measures.

Majorities of both Black and Hispanic teens say permanently locking users out of their account if they bully or harass others or criminal charges for users who bully or harass on social media would help a lot, while about four-in-ten White teens express each view.

In the case of permanent bans, Black teens further stand out from their Hispanic peers: Seven-in-ten say this would help a lot, followed by 59% of Hispanic teens and 42% of White teens.

  • It is important to note that there are various ways researchers measure youths’ experiences with cyberbullying and online harassment. As a result, there may be a range of estimates for how many teens report having these experiences. In addition, since the Center last polled on this topic in 2018, there have been changes in how the surveys were conducted and how the questions were asked. For instance, the 2018 survey asked about bullying by listing a number of possible behaviors and asking respondents to “check all that apply.” This survey asked teens to answer “yes” or “no” to each item individually. Due to these changes, direct comparisons cannot be made across the two surveys. ↩
  • There were not enough Asian American teen respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis. As always, their responses are incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report. ↩

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Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it

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We brought together UNICEF specialists, international cyberbullying and child protection experts, and teamed up with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and X to answer some of the most common questions about online bullying and give advice on ways to deal with it. 

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour, aimed at scaring, angering or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:

  • spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
  • sending hurtful, abusive or threatening messages, images or videos via messaging platforms
  • impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.

Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint – a record that can prove useful and provide evidence to help stop the abuse.

If you are worried about your safety or something that has happened to you online, you can seek help by calling your national helpline . If your country does not have a helpline, please urgently speak to an adult you trust or seek professional support from trained and experienced carers.

The top questions on cyberbullying

  • Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?
  • What are the effects of cyberbullying?
  • How can cyberbullying affect my mental health?
  • Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?
  • I’m experiencing cyberbullying, but I’m afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?
  • How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?
  • How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the internet?
  • How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?
  • Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?
  • Technology companies don’t seem to care about online bullying and harassment. Are they being held responsible?
  • Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?

1. Am I being bullied online? How do you tell the difference between a joke and bullying?

Unicef: .

All friends joke around with each other, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is just having fun or trying to hurt you, especially online. Sometimes they’ll laugh it off with a “just kidding,” or “don’t take it so seriously.” 

But if you feel hurt or think others are laughing at you instead of with you, then the joke has gone too far. If it continues even after you’ve asked the person to stop and you are still feeling upset about it, then this could be bullying.

And when the bullying takes place online, it can result in unwanted attention from a wide range of people including strangers. Wherever it may happen, if you are not happy about it, you should not have to stand for it.

Call it what you will – if you feel bad and it doesn’t stop, then it’s worth getting help. Stopping cyberbullying is not just about calling out bullies, it’s also about recognizing that everyone deserves respect – online and in real life.

> Back to top

What are the effects of cyberbullying?

2. What are the effects of cyberbullying?

When bullying happens online it can feel as if you’re being attacked everywhere, even inside your own home. It can seem like there’s no escape. The effects can last a long time and affect a person in many ways:

  • Mentally – feeling upset, embarrassed, stupid, even afraid or angry 
  • Emotionally – feeling ashamed or losing interest in the things you love
  • Physically – tired (loss of sleep), or experiencing symptoms like stomach aches and headaches 

The feeling of being laughed at or harassed by others, can prevent people from speaking up or trying to deal with the problem. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can even lead to people taking their own lives. 

Cyberbullying can affect us in many ways. But these can be overcome and people can regain their confidence and health.

Illustration - boy with face buried in hands

3. How can cyberbullying affect my mental health?

When you experience cyberbullying you might start to feel ashamed, nervous, anxious and insecure about what people say or think about you. This can lead to withdrawing from friends and family, negative thoughts and self-talk, feeling guilty about things you did or did not do, or feeling that you are being judged negatively. Feeling lonely, overwhelmed, frequent headaches, nausea or stomachaches are also common.

You can lose your motivation to do the things that you usually enjoy doing and feel isolated from the people you love and trust. This can perpetuate negative feelings and thoughts which can adversely affect your mental health and well-being.

Skipping school is another common effect of cyberbullying and can affect the mental health of young people who turn to substances like alcohol and drugs or violent behaviour to deal with their psychological and physical pain. Talking to a friend, family member or school counsellor you trust can be a first step to getting help.

The effects of cyberbullying on mental health can vary depending on the medium through which it happens. For example, bullying via text messaging or through pictures or videos on social media platforms has proven to be very harmful for adolescents.   

Cyberbullying opens the door to 24-hour harassment and can be very damaging. That’s why we offer in-app mental health and well-being support through our feature “ Here For You .” This Snapchat portal provides resources on mental health, grief, bullying, harassment, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, stress, and suicidal thoughts. It was developed in partnership with leading international advocacy and mental health organizations to help Snapchatters contend with some very real issues. Still, our foundational piece of guidance for any well-being issue is to talk to someone: a friend, parent, caregiver, trusted adult – anyone whom you trust to listen.

At Snap, nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our community.  Reach out and tell us how we might be able to help.    

Cyberbullying has the potential of having a negative impact on people's mental health. It's why it's so important that you reach out to someone you trust – whether it's a parent, teacher, friend or caregiver – and let them know what you're going through so that they can help you.

The well-being of our community matters hugely to us, and we recognise that cyberbullying can have an adverse impact on people's mental health. As well as taking strong action against content or behaviour that seeks to shame, bully or harass members of our community, we have partnered with experts to develop our well-being guide to help people learn more about improving their well-being, and keep TikTok a safe and inclusive home for our community.

Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?

4. Who should I talk to if someone is bullying me online? Why is reporting important?

If you think you’re being bullied, the first step is to seek help from someone you trust such as your parents, a close family member or another trusted adult.

In your school you can reach out to a counsellor, the sports coach or your favourite teacher – either online or in person.

And if you are not comfortable talking to someone you know, search for a helpline in your country to talk to a professional counsellor.

If the bullying is happening on a social platform, consider blocking the bully and formally reporting their behaviour on the platform itself. Social media companies are obligated to keep their users safe.

For bullying to stop, it needs to be identified and reporting it is key.

It can be helpful to collect evidence – text messages and screen shots of social media posts – to show what’s been going on.

For bullying to stop, it needs to be identified and reporting it is key. It can also help to show the bully that their behaviour is unacceptable.

If you are in immediate danger, then you should contact the police or emergency services in your country.


At Meta, we take bullying and harassment situations seriously. Bullying and harassment is a unique challenge and one of the most complex issues to address because context is critical. We work hard to enforce against this content while also equipping our community with tools to protect themselves in ways that work best for them.

If you're experiencing bullying online, we encourage you to talk to a parent, teacher or someone else you can trust – you have a right to be safe and supported.

We also make it easy to report bullying directly within Facebook or Instagram. You can send our team a report from a post, comment, story or direct message (DM). Your report is anonymous; the account you reported won’t see who reported them. We have a team who reviews these reports 24/7 around the world in 70+ languages and we will remove anything that violates our policies.

Meta’s Family Center offers resources, insights and expert guidance to help parents, guardians and trusted adults support their teen’s online experiences across our technologies. Additionally, the Meta Safety Center provides bullying prevention resources that can help teens seeking support for issues related to bullying like what to do if you or a friend is being bullied or if you've been called a bully. For educators , we have expert-backed tips on how to proactively handle and work to implement bullying prevention strategies

Bullying is something no one should have to experience, either in person or online. 

Snapchat’s Community Guidelines clearly and explicitly prohibit bullying, intimidation, and harassment of any kind. We don’t want it on the platform; it’s not in keeping with why Snapchat was created and designed. Learn more here .

Letting us know when you experience or witness someone breaking our rules allows us to take action, which helps to protect you and other members of our community. In addition to reporting violating content or behaviour to Snapchat, speak with a friend, parent, caregiver, or other trusted adult. Our goal is for everyone to stay safe and have fun!

Everyone has the right to feel safe and to be treated with respect and dignity. Bullying and harassment are incompatible with the inclusive environment we aim to foster on TikTok. 

If you ever feel someone is bullying you or otherwise being inappropriate, reach out to someone you trust - for example, a parent, a teacher or a caregiver – who can provide support.

We deploy both technology and thousands of safety professionals to help keep bullying off TikTok. We also encourage our community members to make use of the easy in-app reporting tools to alert us if they or someone they know has experienced bullying. You can report videos, comments, accounts and direct messages so that we can take appropriate action and help keep you safe. Reports are always confidential. 

You can find out more in our Bullying Prevention guide for teens, caregivers, and educators on how to identify and prevent bullying, and provide support.

Being the target of bullying online is not easy to deal with. If you are being cyberbullied, the most important thing to do is to ensure you are safe. It’s essential to have someone to talk to about what you are going through. This may be a teacher, another trusted adult, or a parent. Talk to your parents and friends about what to do if you or a friend are being cyberbullied.

We encourage people to report accounts to us that may break our  rules . You can do this on our  Help Center  or through the in-post reporting mechanism by clicking on the “Report a post” option.

Last updated: January 2022.

I’m experiencing cyberbullying, but I’m afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?

5. I’m experiencing cyberbullying, but I’m afraid to talk to my parents about it. How can I approach them?

If you are experiencing cyberbullying, speaking to a trusted adult – someone you feel safe talking to – is one of the most important first steps you can take.

Talking to parents isn’t easy for everyone. But there are things you can do to help the conversation. Choose a time to talk when you know you have their full attention. Explain how serious the problem is for you. Remember, they might not be as familiar with technology as you are, so you might need to help them to understand what’s happening.

They might not have instant answers for you, but they are likely to want to help and together you can find a solution. Two heads are always better than one! If you are still unsure about what to do, consider reaching out to other trusted people . There are often more people who care about you and are willing to help than you might think!

How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?

6. How can I help my friends report a case of cyberbullying especially if they don’t want to do it?

Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying. If you see this happening to someone you know, try to offer support.

It is important to listen to your friend. Why don’t they want to report being cyberbullied? How are they feeling? Let them know that they don’t have to formally report anything, but it’s crucial to talk to someone who might be able to help.

Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying.

Remember, your friend may be feeling fragile. Be kind to them. Help them think through what they might say and to whom. Offer to go with them if they decide to report. Most importantly, remind them that you’re there for them and you want to help.

If your friend still does not want to report the incident, then support them in finding a trusted adult who can help them deal with the situation. Remember that in certain situations the consequences of cyberbullying can be life threatening.

Doing nothing can leave the person feeling that everyone is against them or that nobody cares. Your words can make a difference.

We know that it can be hard to report bullying, but everyone deserves to feel safe online. If your friend is experiencing cyberbullying, encourage them to talk to a parent, a teacher or an adult they trust.

Reporting content or accounts to Facebook or Instagram is anonymous and can help us better keep our platforms safe. Bullying and harassment are highly personal by nature, so in many instances, we need a person to report this behaviour to us before we can identify or remove it. You can report something you experience yourself, but it’s also just as easy to submit a report for one of your friends. You can find more information on how to report something on our How to Report Bullying section  at the Meta Safety Center.

You and your friends may be reluctant to report to a technology platform for any number of reasons, but it’s important to know that reporting on Snapchat is confidential and easy. And remember: You can report Snaps (photos and videos), Chats (messages) and accounts – about your own experiences or on behalf of someone else. 

In the more public places of Snapchat, like Stories and Spotlight, simply press and hold on the piece of content and a card with “Report Tile” (as one option) will appear in red. Click that link and our reporting menu will appear. Bullying and harassment are among the first categories in the reporting list. Just follow the prompts and provide as much information as you can about the incident. We appreciate you doing your part to help us protect the Snapchat community!  

If you believe another member of the TikTok community is being bullied or harassed, there are ways you can provide support. For example, you can make a confidential report on TikTok so that we take appropriate action and help keep your friend safe. 

If you know the person, consider checking in with them and encourage them to read our Bullying Prevention guide so they can find out more information about how to identify bullying behaviour and take action.

If your friends are experiencing cyberbullying, encourage them to talk to a parent, a teacher or an adult they trust.

If a friend of yours does not want to report their experience, you can submit a bystander report  on their behalf. This can include reports of private information , non -consensual nudity  or impersonation.

Being online gives me access to lots of information, but it also means I am open to abuse. How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the Internet?

7. How do we stop cyberbullying without giving up access to the Internet?

Being online has so many benefits. However, like many things in life, it comes with risks that you need to protect against.

If you experience cyberbullying, you may want to delete certain apps or stay offline for a while to give yourself time to recover. But getting off the Internet is not a long-term solution. You did nothing wrong, so why should you be disadvantaged? It may even send the bullies the wrong signal — encouraging their unacceptable behaviour. 

We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others.

We all want cyberbullying to stop, which is one of the reasons reporting cyberbullying is so important. But creating the Internet we want goes beyond calling out bullying. We need to be thoughtful about what we share or say that may hurt others. We need to be kind to one another online and in real life. It's up to all of us!

We’re continuously developing new technologies  to encourage positive interactions and take action on harmful content, and launching new tools to help people have more control over their experience. Here are some tools you can use:

  • Comment warnings: When someone writes a caption or a comment that our AI detects as potentially offensive or intended to harass, we will show them an alert that asks them to pause and reflect on whether they would like to edit their language before it’s posted.
  • Comment and message controls: Comments with common offensive words, phrases or emojis, and abusive messages or messages from strangers can be automatically hidden or filtered out with the ‘ Hidden words ’ setting, which is defaulted on for all people. If you want an even more personalized experience, you can create a custom list of emojis, words or phrases you don’t want to see, and comments containing these terms won’t appear under your posts and messages will be sent to a filtered inbox. All Instagram accounts have the option to switch off DMs from people they don’t follow. Messenger also gives you the option to ignore a conversation and automatically move it out of your inbox, without having to block the sender.
  • Block and Mute: You can always  block  or  mute  an account that is bullying you, and that account will not be notified. When you block someone on Instagram, you’ll also have the option to block other accounts they may have or create, making it more difficult for them to interact with you.
  • Restrict: With ‘Restrict,’ you can protect your account from unwanted interactions in a quieter, or more subtle way. Once Restrict is enabled, comments on your posts from a person you have restricted will only be visible to that person. You can choose to view the comment by tapping “See Comment”; approve the comment so everyone can see it; delete it; or ignore it. You won’t receive any notifications for comments from a restricted account.
  • Limits:  You can automatically hide comments and DM requests from people who don’t follow you, or who only recently followed you. If you’re going through an influx of unwanted comments or messages — or think you may be about to — you can turn on Limits and avoid it.

Our priority is to foster a welcoming and safe environment where people feel free to express themselves authentically. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied or harassed. 

We use a combination of technology and moderation teams to help us identify and remove abusive content or behaviour from our platform. 

We also provide our community with an extensive range of tools to help them better control their experience – whether it's control over exactly who can view and interact with your content or filtering tools to help you stay in control of comments. You can find out about them on our Safety Centre . 

Since hundreds of millions of people share ideas on X every day, it’s no surprise that we don’t all agree with each other all the time. That’s one of the benefits of a public conversation in that we can all learn from respectful disagreements and discussions.

But sometimes, after you’ve listened to someone for a while, you may not want to hear them anymore. Their right to express themselves doesn’t mean you’re required to listen. If you see or receive a reply you don’t like, unfollow  and end any communication with that account. If the behaviour continues, it is recommended that you block the account . If you continue receiving unwanted, targeted and continuous replies on X, consider reporting the behaviour to X here .

We are also working proactively to protect people using our service through a combination of human review and technology. Learn more about how to feel safer on X here .

How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?

8. How do I prevent my personal information from being used to manipulate or humiliate me on social media?

Think twice before posting or sharing anything on digital platforms – it may be online forever and could be used to harm you later. Don’t give out personal details such as your address, telephone number or the name of your school.

Learn about the privacy settings of your favourite social media apps. Here are some actions you can take on many of them: 

  • You can decide who can see your profile, send you direct messages or comment on your posts by adjusting your account privacy settings. 
  • You can report hurtful comments, messages, photos and videos and request they be removed.
  • Besides ‘unfriending’, you can completely block people to stop them from seeing your profile or contacting you.
  • You can also choose to have comments by certain people to appear only to them without completely blocking them.
  • You can delete posts on your profile or hide them from specific people. 

On most of your favourite social media, people aren't notified when you block, restrict or report them.

Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?

9. Is there a punishment for cyberbullying?

Most schools take bullying seriously and will take action against it. If you are being cyberbullied by other students, report it to your school.

People who are victims of any form of violence, including bullying and cyberbullying, have a right to justice and to have the offender held accountable.

Laws against bullying, particularly on cyberbullying, are relatively new and still do not exist everywhere. This is why many countries rely on other relevant laws, such as ones against harassment, to punish cyberbullies.

In countries that have specific laws on cyberbullying, online behaviour that deliberately causes serious emotional distress is seen as criminal activity. In some of these countries, victims of cyberbullying can seek protection, prohibit communication from a specified person and restrict the use of electronic devices used by that person for cyberbullying, temporarily or permanently.

However, it is important to remember that punishment is not always the most effective way to change the behaviour of bullies. Sometimes, focusing on repairing the harm and mending the relationship can be better.

On Facebook, we have a set of  Community Standards , and on Instagram, we have  Community Guidelines . We take action when we are aware of content that violates these policies, like in the case of bullying or harassment, and we are constantly improving our detection tools so we can find this content faster.

Bullying and harassment can happen in many places and come in many different forms from making threats and releasing personally identifiable information to sending threatening messages and making unwanted malicious contact. We do not tolerate this kind of behavior because it prevents people from feeling safe and respected on our apps.

Making sure people don’t see hateful or harassing content in direct messages can be challenging, given they’re private conversations, but we are taking steps to take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules. If someone continues to send violating messages, we will disable their account. We’ll also disable new accounts created to get around our messaging restrictions and will continue to disable accounts we find that are created purely to send harmful messages.

On Snapchat, reports of cyberbullying are reviewed by Snap’s dedicated Trust & Safety teams, which operate around the clock and around the globe. Individuals found to be involved in cyberbullying may be given a warning, their accounts might be suspended or their accounts could be shut down completely. 

We recommend leaving any group chat where bullying or any unwelcome behaviour is taking place and please report the behaviour and/or the account to us.  

Our Community Guidelines define a set of norms and common code of conduct for TikTok and they provide guidance on what is and is not allowed to make a welcoming space for everyone. We make it clear that we do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied or harassed. We take action against any such content and accounts, including removal.

We strongly enforce our rules to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely. These rules specifically cover a number of areas including topics such as:

  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Abuse/harassment
  • Hateful conduct
  • Suicide or self-harm
  • Sharing of sensitive media, including graphic violence and adult content

As part of these rules, we take a number of different enforcement actions when content is in violation. When we take enforcement actions, we may do so either on a specific piece of content (e.g., an individual post or Direct Message) or on an account.

You can find more on our enforcement actions here .

Internet companies don’t seem to care about online bullying and harassment. Are they being held responsible?

10. Technology companies don’t seem to care about online bullying and harassment. Are they being held responsible?

Technology companies are increasingly paying attention to the issue of online bullying.

Many of them are introducing ways to address it and better protect their users with new tools, guidance and ways to report online abuse.

But it is true that more is needed. Many young people experience cyberbullying every day. Some face extreme forms of online abuse. Some have taken their own lives as a result.

Technology companies have a responsibility to protect their users especially children and young people.

It is up to all of us to hold them accountable when they’re not living up to these responsibilities.

Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

11. Are there any online anti-bullying tools for children or young people?

Each social platform offers different tools (see available ones below) that allow you to restrict who can comment on or view your posts or who can connect automatically as a friend, and to report cases of bullying. Many of them involve simple steps to block, mute or report cyberbullying. We encourage you to explore them.

Social media companies also provide educational tools and guidance for children, parents and teachers to learn about risks and ways to stay safe online.

Also, the first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you. Think about where cyberbullying happens in your community and ways you can help – by raising your voice, calling out bullies, reaching out to trusted adults or by creating awareness of the issue. Even a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

The first line of defense against cyberbullying could be you.

If you are worried about your safety or something that has happened to you online, urgently speak to an adult you trust. Many countries have a special helpline you can call for free and talk to someone anonymously. Visit  United for Global Mental Health to find help in your country.

We have a number of anti-bullying tools across Facebook and Instagram:

  • You can block people, including any existing and new accounts they might create.
  • You can  mute  an account and that account will not be notified.
  • You can limit unwanted interactions for a period of time by automatically hiding comments and message requests from people who don’t follow you, or who only recently followed you.
  • You can use ‘ Restrict ’ to discreetly protect your account without that person being notified.
  • You can  moderate comments  on your own posts.
  • You can  modify your settings  so that only people you follow can send you a direct message.
  • We will notify someone when they’re about to post something that might cross the line, encouraging them to reconsider.
  • We automatically filter out comments and message requests that don’t go against our Community Guidelines but may be considered inappropriate or offensive. You can also create your own custom list of emojis, words or phrases that you don’t want to see.

For more tips and ideas, visit Instagram’s Safety page and Facebook’s Bullying Prevention Hub . We also offer resources, insights and expert guidance for parents and guardians on our Family Center .

We want teens and young adults to be aware of the blocking and removal functions on Snapchat. Clicking on the person’s avatar will bring up a three-dot menu in the upper right-hand corner. Opening that menu offers the option of “Manage Friendship,” which, in turn, offers the ability to Report, Block or Remove the person as a friend. Know that if you block someone, they will be told that their Snaps and Chats to you will be delivered once the relationship is restored.  

It’s also a good idea to check privacy settings to ensure they continue to be set to the default setting of “Friends Only.” This way, only people you’ve added as Friends can send you Snaps and Chats.  

We also recommend reviewing your Friends’ list from time to time to ensure it includes those people you still want to be friends with on Snapchat.  

Alongside the work that our safety teams do to help keep bullying and harassment off our platform, we provide an extensive range of tools to help you control your TikTok experience. You can find these in full on our Safety Centre . Here are a few highlights:

  • You can restrict who comments on your videos to no one, just friends or everyone (for those aged under 16, the everyone setting is not available)
  • You can filter all comments or those with specific keywords that you choose. By default, spam and offensive comments are hidden from users when we detect them.
  • You can delete or report multiple comments at once, and you can block accounts that post bullying or other negative comments in bulk too, up to 100 at a time.
  • A comment prompt asks people to reconsider posting a comment that may be inappropriate or unkind, reminding them of our Community Guidelines and allowing them to edit their comments before sharing.

We want everybody to be safe on X. We continue to launch and improve tools for people to feel safer, be in control and manage their digital footprint. Here are some safety tools anyone on X can use: 

  • Select who can reply to your posts  – either everyone, only people you follow or only people you mention
  • Mute – removing an account's posts from your timeline without unfollowing or blocking that account
  • Block – restricting specific accounts from contacting you, seeing your posts, and following you
  • Report – filing a report about abusive behaviour
  • Safety mode  – a feature that temporarily blocks accounts for using potentially harmful language or sending repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions.

With special thanks to:  Meta, Snap, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter). Last updated: February 2024.

To anyone who has ever been bullied online: You are not alone

TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D'Amelio open up about their personal experience of being bullied and share tips on how to make the internet a better place.

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Cyberbullying: Everything You Need to Know

  • Cyberbullying
  • How to Respond

Cyberbullying is the act of intentionally and consistently mistreating or harassing someone through the use of electronic devices or other forms of electronic communication (like social media platforms).

Because cyberbullying mainly affects children and adolescents, many brush it off as a part of growing up. However, cyberbullying can have dire mental and emotional consequences if left unaddressed.

This article discusses cyberbullying, its adverse effects, and what can be done about it.

FangXiaNuo / Getty Images

Cyberbullying Statistics and State Laws

The rise of digital communication methods has paved the way for a new type of bullying to form, one that takes place outside of the schoolyard. Cyberbullying follows kids home, making it much more difficult to ignore or cope.


As many as 15% of young people between 12 and 18 have been cyberbullied at some point. However, over 25% of children between 13 and 15 were cyberbullied in one year alone.

About 6.2% of people admitted that they’ve engaged in cyberbullying at some point in the last year. The age at which a person is most likely to cyberbully one of their peers is 13.

Those subject to online bullying are twice as likely to self-harm or attempt suicide . The percentage is much higher in young people who identify as LGBTQ, at 56%.

Cyberbullying by Sex and Sexual Orientation

Cyberbullying statistics differ among various groups, including:

  • Girls and boys reported similar numbers when asked if they have been cyberbullied, at 23.7% and 21.9%, respectively.
  • LGBTQ adolescents report cyberbullying at higher rates, at 31.7%. Up to 56% of young people who identify as LGBTQ have experienced cyberbullying.
  • Transgender teens were the most likely to be cyberbullied, at a significantly high rate of 35.4%.

State Laws 

The laws surrounding cyberbullying vary from state to state. However, all 50 states have developed and implemented specific policies or laws to protect children from being cyberbullied in and out of the classroom.

The laws were put into place so that students who are being cyberbullied at school can have access to support systems, and those who are being cyberbullied at home have a way to report the incidents.

Legal policies or programs developed to help stop cyberbullying include:

  • Bullying prevention programs
  • Cyberbullying education courses for teachers
  • Procedures designed to investigate instances of cyberbullying
  • Support systems for children who have been subject to cyberbullying 

Are There Federal Laws Against Cyberbullying?

There are no federal laws or policies that protect people from cyberbullying. However, federal involvement may occur if the bullying overlaps with harassment. Federal law will get involved if the bullying concerns a person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, disability, or religion.

Examples of Cyberbullying 

There are several types of bullying that can occur online, and they all look different.

Harassment can include comments, text messages, or threatening emails designed to make the cyberbullied person feel scared, embarrassed, or ashamed of themselves.

Other forms of harassment include:

  • Using group chats as a way to gang up on one person
  • Making derogatory comments about a person based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, or other characteristics
  • Posting mean or untrue things on social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, as a way to publicly hurt the person experiencing the cyberbullying  


A person may try to pretend to be the person they are cyberbullying to attempt to embarrass, shame, or hurt them publicly. Some examples of this include:

  • Hacking into someone’s online profile and changing any part of it, whether it be a photo or their "About Me" portion, to something that is either harmful or inappropriate
  • Catfishing, which is when a person creates a fake persona to trick someone into a relationship with them as a joke or for their own personal gain
  • Making a fake profile using the screen name of their target to post inappropriate or rude remarks on other people’s pages

Other Examples

Not all forms of cyberbullying are the same, and cyberbullies use other tactics to ensure that their target feels as bad as possible. Some tactics include:

  • Taking nude or otherwise degrading photos of a person without their consent
  • Sharing or posting nude pictures with a wide audience to embarrass the person they are cyberbullying
  • Sharing personal information about a person on a public website that could cause them to feel unsafe
  • Physically bullying someone in school and getting someone else to record it so that it can be watched and passed around later
  • Circulating rumors about a person

How to Know When a Joke Turns Into Cyberbullying

People may often try to downplay cyberbullying by saying it was just a joke. However, any incident that continues to make a person feel shame, hurt, or blatantly disrespected is not a joke and should be addressed. People who engage in cyberbullying tactics know that they’ve crossed these boundaries, from being playful to being harmful.

Effects and Consequences of Cyberbullying 

Research shows many negative effects of cyberbullying, some of which can lead to severe mental health issues. Cyberbullied people are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts, actions, or behaviors and engage in self-harm as those who are not.

Other negative health consequences of cyberbullying are:

  • Stomach pain and digestive issues
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulties with academics
  • Violent behaviors
  • High levels of stress
  • Inability to feel safe
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness

If You’ve Been Cyberbullied 

Being on the receiving end of cyberbullying is hard to cope with. It can feel like you have nowhere to turn and no escape. However, some things can be done to help overcome cyberbullying experiences.

Advice for Preteens and Teenagers

The best thing you can do if you’re being cyberbullied is tell an adult you trust. It may be challenging to start the conversation because you may feel ashamed or embarrassed. However, if it is not addressed, it can get worse.

Other ways you can cope with cyberbullying include:

  • Walk away : Walking away online involves ignoring the bullies, stepping back from your computer or phone, and finding something you enjoy doing to distract yourself from the bullying.
  • Don’t retaliate : You may want to defend yourself at the time. But engaging with the bullies can make matters worse.
  • Keep evidence : Save all copies of the cyberbullying, whether it be posts, texts, or emails, and keep them if the bullying escalates and you need to report them.
  • Report : Social media sites take harassment seriously, and reporting them to site administrators may block the bully from using the site.
  • Block : You can block your bully from contacting you on social media platforms and through text messages.

In some cases, therapy may be a good option to help cope with the aftermath of cyberbullying.

Advice for Parents

As a parent, watching your child experience cyberbullying can be difficult. To help in the right ways, you can:

  • Offer support and comfort : Listening to your child explain what's happening can be helpful. If you've experienced bullying as a child, sharing that experience may provide some perspective on how it can be overcome and that the feelings don't last forever.
  • Make sure they know they are not at fault : Whatever the bully uses to target your child can make them feel like something is wrong with them. Offer praise to your child for speaking up and reassure them that it's not their fault.
  • Contact the school : Schools have policies to protect children from bullying, but to help, you have to inform school officials.
  • Keep records : Ask your child for all the records of the bullying and keep a copy for yourself. This evidence will be helpful to have if the bullying escalates and further action needs to be taken.
  • Try to get them help : In many cases, cyberbullying can lead to mental stress and sometimes mental health disorders. Getting your child a therapist gives them a safe place to work through their experience.

In the Workplace 

Although cyberbullying more often affects children and adolescents, it can also happen to adults in the workplace. If you are dealing with cyberbullying at your workplace, you can:

  • Let your bully know how what they said affected you and that you expect it to stop.
  • Keep copies of any harassment that goes on in the workplace.
  • Report your cyberbully to your human resources (HR) department.
  • Report your cyberbully to law enforcement if you are being threatened.
  • Close off all personal communication pathways with your cyberbully.
  • Maintain a professional attitude at work regardless of what is being said or done.
  • Seek out support through friends, family, or professional help.

Effective Action Against Cyberbullying

If cyberbullying continues, actions will have to be taken to get it to stop, such as:

  • Talking to a school official : Talking to someone at school may be difficult, but once you do, you may be grateful that you have some support. Schools have policies to address cyberbullying.
  • Confide in parents or trusted friends : Discuss your experience with your parents or others you trust. Having support on your side will make you feel less alone.
  • Report it on social media : Social media sites have strict rules on the types of interactions and content sharing allowed. Report your aggressor to the site to get them banned and eliminate their ability to contact you.
  • Block the bully : Phones, computers, and social media platforms contain options to block correspondence from others. Use these blocking tools to help free yourself from cyberbullying.

Help Is Available

If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, dial  988  to contact the  988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline  and connect with a trained counselor. To find mental health resources in your area, contact the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline  at  800-662-4357  for information.

Cyberbullying occurs over electronic communication methods like cell phones, computers, social media, and other online platforms. While anyone can be subject to cyberbullying, it is most likely to occur between the ages of 12 and 18.

Cyberbullying can be severe and lead to serious health issues, such as new or worsened mental health disorders, sleep issues, or thoughts of suicide or self-harm. There are laws to prevent cyberbullying, so it's essential to report it when it happens. Coping strategies include stepping away from electronics, blocking bullies, and getting.

Alhajji M, Bass S, Dai T. Cyberbullying, mental health, and violence in adolescents and associations with sex and race: data from the 2015 youth risk behavior survey . Glob Pediatr Health. 2019;6:2333794X19868887. doi:10.1177/2333794X19868887

Cyberbullying Research Center. Cyberbullying in 2021 by age, gender, sexual orientation, and race .

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: StopBullying.gov. Facts about bullying .

John A, Glendenning AC, Marchant A, et al. Self-harm, suicidal behaviours, and cyberbullying in children and young people: systematic review .  J Med Internet Res . 2018;20(4):e129. doi:10.2196/jmir.9044

Cyberbullying Research Center. Bullying, cyberbullying, and LGBTQ students .

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: StopBullying.gov. Laws, policies, and regulations .

Wolke D, Lee K, Guy A. Cyberbullying: a storm in a teacup? . Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017;26(8):899-908. doi:10.1007/s00787-017-0954-6

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: StopBullying.gov. Cyberbullying tactics .

Garett R, Lord LR, Young SD. Associations between social media and cyberbullying: a review of the literature . mHealth . 2016;2:46-46. doi:10.21037/mhealth.2016.12.01

Nemours Teens Health. Cyberbullying .

Nixon CL. Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health . Adolesc Health Med Ther. 2014;5:143-58. doi:10.2147/AHMT.S36456

Nemours Kids Health. Cyberbullying (for parents) .

By Angelica Bottaro Bottaro has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and an Advanced Diploma in Journalism. She is based in Canada.

Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Cyber Bullying — The Impact of Social Media and the Effects of Cyberbullying


The Impact of Social Media and The Effects of Cyberbullying

  • Categories: Cyber Bullying Effects of Social Media

About this sample


Words: 1286 |

Published: Jan 15, 2019

Words: 1286 | Pages: 3 | 7 min read

Table of contents

Life-destructive consequences of social media usage, possible benefits of social media, works cited.

  • Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying. Corwin Press.
  • Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Pew Research Center.
  • Lenhart, A., Madden, M., Smith, A., Purcell, K., Zickuhr, K., & Rainie, L. (2011). Teens, kindness, and cruelty on social network sites. Pew Research Center.
  • Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., Görzig, A., & Ólafsson, K. (2011). Risks and safety on the internet: The perspective of European children. EU Kids Online.
  • O'Keeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800-804.
  • Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2018). Social media use and risky behaviors among adolescents. National Institutes of Health.
  • Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.
  • Rideout, V. (2015). The common sense census: Media use by tweens and teens. Common Sense Media.
  • Uhls, Y. T. (2017). Media multitasking and cognitive, psychological, neural, and learning differences. Pediatrics, 140(Supplement 2), S62-S66.
  • Van den Eijnden, R. J., Lemmens, J. S., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2016). The social media disorder scale. Computers in Human Behavior, 61, 478-487.

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social media cyberbullying essay


Essay on Cyberbullying

Students are often asked to write an essay on Cyberbullying in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Cyberbullying

What is cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. It can happen through a message, email, or on social media sites.

Forms of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can take many forms. It can be public or private. Some examples are mean text messages, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures or videos.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can make a person feel sad, lonely, or scared. They may want to avoid school or social events. In severe cases, it might lead to depression or even suicide.

Preventing Cyberbullying

To prevent cyberbullying, don’t share private information online, and think before you post. Always treat others with respect. If you’re a victim, don’t respond or retaliate. Instead, save the evidence and report it.

Role of Schools and Parents

Schools and parents play a crucial role in preventing cyberbullying. They should educate children about internet safety, monitor their online activities, and encourage them to speak up if they’re being bullied.

250 Words Essay on Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to hurt, embarrass, or scare another person. It can happen on social media, in online games, or in messages. The person doing the bullying might send mean messages, share personal information, or post embarrassing photos.

Cyberbullying can make a person feel sad, scared, or alone. They might not want to go to school or spend time with friends. It can also affect their grades and their health. Some people might even think about hurting themselves because of cyberbullying.

How to Deal with Cyberbullying

If you are being bullied online, tell a trusted adult. This could be a parent, teacher, or school counselor. You can also report the bullying to the website or app where it happened. Most websites and apps have rules against bullying and can take action.

To help stop cyberbullying, be kind online. Think before you post or send a message. Ask yourself, “Would I want someone to say this to me?” If the answer is no, don’t post it. Also, stand up for others. If you see someone being bullied online, report it.

Remember, everyone deserves to feel safe and respected, both in person and online. By understanding and taking action against cyberbullying, we can make the internet a better place for everyone.

500 Words Essay on Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet, mobile phones, or other digital technologies to harm others. It is a type of bullying that happens online. Unlike regular bullying, cyberbullying can happen at any time and reach a person even when they are alone. It can include things like sending mean or threatening messages, spreading rumors, or posting embarrassing photos or videos.

How Cyberbullying Happens

Cyberbullying can happen in many ways. It can take place through social media sites, chat rooms, text messages, and emails. Sometimes, it can be public, like a mean comment on a social media post. Other times, it can be private, like a threatening text message. Cyberbullies can even create fake accounts to harass someone without revealing their identity.

Cyberbullying can hurt people deeply. It can make them feel scared, sad, or angry. It can also make them feel alone, like no one understands what they’re going through. Some people may even feel unsafe or worry about their reputation. In severe cases, cyberbullying can lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, or even self-harm.

There are many ways to prevent cyberbullying. One of the most important is to be kind and respectful online. Remember, the words you type can have a big impact on others. It’s also important to keep personal information private and to think before you post. If you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it online.

What to Do If You’re Cyberbullied

If you’re being cyberbullied, remember it’s not your fault. Don’t respond to the bully, as it could make things worse. Instead, save the evidence and report it. You can report it to the website or app where it happened, or to an adult you trust. If the bullying is threatening or severe, you may even need to report it to the police.

Cyberbullying is a serious problem that can hurt people both emotionally and mentally. But by being respectful online, protecting our personal information, and knowing how to respond if we’re bullied, we can help stop cyberbullying. Remember, everyone deserves to feel safe and respected, both in person and online.

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social media cyberbullying essay

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  • Cyberbullying

What Is Cyberbullying


Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
  • Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
  • Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
  • Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
  • Online gaming communities

Special Concerns

With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online – both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content – creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it. Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:

Persistent – Digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate 24 hours a day, so it can be difficult for children experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.

Permanent – Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.

Hard to Notice – Because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place, it is harder to recognize.

Laws and Sanctions

All states have laws requiring schools to respond to bullying. As cyberbullying has become more prevalent with the use of technology, many states now include cyberbullying , or mention cyberbullying offenses, under these laws. Schools may take action either as required by law, or with local or school policies that allow them to discipline or take other action. Some states also have provisions to address bullying if it affects school performance. You can learn about the laws and policies in each state, including if they cover cyberbullying.

Frequency of Cyberbullying

There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:

  • The 2019  School Crime Supplement  to the National Crime Victimization Survey (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice) indicates that, nationwide, about 16 percent of students in grades 9–12 experienced cyberbullying.
  • The 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that an estimated 15.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.

See also " Frequency of Bullying ."

Opinion: I’m an American teen lured by social media. It’s ruining our lives.

American creator and tiktoker Vinnie Hacker guest of Prada fashion show, while leaving Palazzo Parigi.

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Roy is a junior at Grossmont High School and lives in La Mesa.

Social media has a detrimental effect on the mental health of teens. A rise in child trafficking, body dysmorphia, sexualization of adolescents, suicide rates and cyberbullying is linked to apps like Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram. According to a national study published by the Human Trafficking Institute, 87 percent of the underage victims recruited online in 2020 active criminal sex trafficking cases were recruited through social media.

If social media were a pharmaceutical, it would have undergone years of testing to meet safety standards. However, these applications were released without the installation of proper restrictive measures that could ensure the safety of their users. The damage it is causing to America’s youth is easily seen and yet the push to regulate these apps is minimal. Social media platforms do not take complaints by parents and teachers regarding their products seriously. Instead, the accountability for these applications gets placed on the backs of school administrations and responsible guardians who are forced to deal with the fallout created by an exploitative and indifferent industry.

I began using social media in middle school. The promotion of unrealistic body standards made me question my self-esteem. I spent hours comparing myself to girls on these sites who presented themselves in a sexualized manner. It wasn’t long before I was posting salacious content myself to be sexually desirable among my peers. Likes became addictive and validating. I craved them, and, because the posts were inappropriate, I needed to hide them from my parents by creating fake accounts or blocking them from certain posts. The result of this deceitful behavior was isolation and depression.

Glorification of sex among teens has escalated within the last decade due to the rise of social media “influencers” like Danielle Cohn, Addison Rae and Vinnie Hacker. These influencers present themselves in a sexualized manner, which cultivates the logic that anyone can gain fame by sexualizing themselves. What many adolescents do not grasp is that this type of behavior makes them vulnerable to child predators who find social media an easy way to groom teens. They use these apps to prey on underdeveloped minds which are seeking likes, comments and connections with strangers in hopes of being “discovered.” Growing evidence indicates that relying on online feedback for self‐esteem can have adverse effects on young people. Teenagers who seek social media attention find themselves competing and comparing themselves to each other, hoping their next post will go viral.

My phone often lights up from high school notifications alerting me of missing students. Misuse of social media apps is often involved in their disappearances, to some degree. It is particularly disturbing when I recognize or know the person that is missing. Many of these cases could be prevented if the applications these teens were using focused on their safety instead of promoting poor behavior by rewarding them for spending countless hours on their phones with empty goals such as “streaks.” From where I’m sitting, the accountability of these social platforms seems little to nonexistent.

Furthermore, these apps contribute to cyberbullying. People find it easier to express themselves online than in person. There is freedom in anonymity. This makes children with special needs even more vulnerable to cyberbullying than average users. At my school, we have students with special needs who post on their socials frequently. These teens believe that people on their feed are friends or supportive acquaintances. However, oftentimes, they are being mocked and lack the discernment to distinguish kindness from sarcasm. In an age of digital connection, these special needs youth are falling through the cracks where there is no accountability for how teens treat teens.

The lack of accountability enjoyed by social platforms needs to stop. It is paramount that independent researchers and technology companies collaborate to advance our understanding of the impact of social media on teens. When using social applications, a standard of kindness should be promoted. There should be definitive consequences when teens shame and harass each other using this venue. As a society, we should push for more regulations and safety features on these platforms while teaching our youth that real life cannot be replaced by a bunch of selfies. Instead, it is the connections we make outside of cyberspace that define us.

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Opinion: Housing is a privilege in California with sky-high costs. This needs to change, now.

I want to see a world where my baby girls don’t have to worry about whether or not they can have a place to live

We need caption for the photo

Opinion: The nursing field is short-staffed and doesn’t reflect our community. Here’s a fix.

We need more people in our profession who feel the deep call to care for others

San Diego Street Sign bearing the name of Harvey Milk

Opinion: Harvey Milk’s legacy is being remembered here. I’m proud to be part of the celebration.

Milk’s impact is clearly still felt today and while our current political climate is rife with homophobia and transphobia

Rudy Giuliani gets summons at birthday party in Arizona case 'Nobody is above the law': AG

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Rudy Giuliani was served Friday with a notice to appear in an Arizona court to answer charges stemming from an effort to keep Donald Trump in the White House despite losing the 2020 election, according to Attorney General Kris Mayes.

A grand jury issued an indictment against Giuliani and 17 others more than three weeks ago. Giuliani was the last defendant to receive their summons because authorities hit roadblocks trying to reach him.

Agents from Mayes' office had spent two days in New York City trying to serve Giuliani without success, according to Richie Taylor, a spokesperson for the Attorney General's Office. A doorman confirmed where Giuliani lived, but would not contact him, Taylor said. The office also tried calling multiple phone numbers for Giuliani and sent the summons via certified mail.

But around 11 p.m. EDT Friday, agents approached Giuliani as he was leaving his birthday party in Florida, Taylor said Saturday. Agents had traveled to the state earlier in the day, Taylor said, expecting to find Giuliani because of his nightly live video streams from his residence there.

"The final defendant was served moments ago," Mayes posted on the social media site X Friday night. She tagged Giuliani's account and wrote, "Nobody is above the law." This was the first time Giuliani was formally named by prosecutors. His name had been withheld because he had not been served.

Prep for the polls: See who is running for president and compare where they stand on key issues in our Voter Guide

Earlier in the day, Giuliani posted a taunting message to the X social media platform referring to his avoidance of being served in the case. That post was later deleted, but Mayes shared a screenshot of Giuliani's remarks.

"If Arizona authorities can't find me by tomorrow morning: 1. They must dismiss the indictment; 2. They must concede they can't count votes," Giuliani wrote in the post.

Taylor said there was no truth to Giuliani's statement.

Giuliani's post included an image of him and six other people surrounded by balloons. On Friday, Giuliani said on X that he was having an "early-birthday celebration in Florida." Giuliani turns 80 later this month.

Giuliani was not affected by the "decision to try and embarrass him" during his birthday party, said spokesperson Ted Goodman in an emailed statement. "He enjoyed an incredible evening with hundreds of people, from all walks of life, who love him and respect him for his contributions to society. We look forward to full vindication soon."

Giuliani is expected in court Tuesday for his arraignment unless the court grants him a delay, Taylor said.

Arizona politics: Gov. Hobbs signs law netting interstate resources to combat wildfires in Arizona

What are the charges in the fake electors case, and what happens next?

The 58-page indictment alleges a slate of Arizona Republicans and Trump aides, including Giuliani, engaged in a conspiracy aimed at "preventing the lawful transfer of the presidency of the United States, keeping President Donald J. Trump in office against the will of Arizona voters, and depriving Arizona voters of their right to vote and have their votes counted."

The defendants in the case face multiple felony counts, including conspiracy, forgery and fraud. If convicted, the crimes could carry prison time, though state law allows for less severe penalties, including probation, depending on a defendant's circumstances, like past criminal history.

Friday morning, former Trump attorney John Eastman was the first defendant to appear in a Maricopa County courtroom. He entered a plea of not guilty and, after the hearing, said he would fight the case against him at trial.

Most of the other defendants are expected to appear alongside Giuliani in court or be arraigned virtually next week, on May 21, though some have delayed their appearances to June.

Elena Santa Cruz is a justice reporter for The Republic. Reach her at   [email protected] . Follow her on X   @ecsantacruz3 .

Republic reporter Stacey Barchenger contributed.

Analyzing the Themes and Impact of “Mean Girls”

This essay about “Mean Girls” explores the film’s commentary on teenage social dynamics, identity, and bullying. It discusses how the film uses the character Cady Heron’s experiences at a new high school to illustrate the impact of social hierarchies and personal transformation. Additionally, it considers the broader cultural impact of the film, particularly in how it addresses the complexities of female relationships and serves as an educational tool for discussing social issues among teens.

How it works

“Mean Girls,” directed by Mark Waters and penned by Tina Fey, serves as a profound commentary on the intricacies of teenage social structures and the perennial challenges of adolescence. Released in 2004, the film has been lauded not only for its comedic elements but also for its incisive critique of identity politics, bullying, and the quest for acceptance within the microcosm of high school.

At the heart of “Mean Girls” lies the exploration of social stratification and power dynamics. The narrative unfolds through Cady Heron, a newcomer to North Shore High School after being homeschooled in Africa.

Cady’s introduction to The Plastics—a dominant trio led by the enigmatic Regina George—highlights the apex of teenage social power. The film skillfully depicts the volatility and potency of social status, illustrating its profound impact on individual actions and interpersonal relationships.

The theme of personal identity and the malleability of one’s sense of self is central to the film. Cady’s gradual shift from an unassuming newcomer to a crafty insider exemplifies how environmental pressures can reshape personal identity. This transformation raises questions about authenticity and adaptation, as Cady navigates the tension between her genuine self and the persona she adopts to gain social favor. The concept of performative behavior is a recurring motif, suggesting that many high school interactions are less about genuine connections and more about conforming to expected social roles.

Bullying serves as a narrative and thematic linchpin in “Mean Girls.” The Plastics employ psychological tactics—rumor-mongering, social exclusion—to maintain their hierarchical status. This portrayal not only criticizes the use of social manipulation as a power mechanism but also contextualizes it within a societal framework that tacitly endorses such behaviors. The film prompts viewers to consider the broader implications of bullying, including its effects on all parties involved: victims, perpetrators, and observers.

The cultural resonance of “Mean Girls” has been significant, influencing how teenage social dynamics are discussed and understood. Its memorable lines and scenes have infiltrated popular culture, making it a touchstone for discussing youth behavior and societal norms. The film is frequently used in educational settings to address themes of social exclusion and the psychology behind group dynamics.

Moreover, “Mean Girls” contributes to the discourse on female representation in the media. It critiques the often competitive nature of female relationships as portrayed in popular culture, advocating for a more nuanced understanding of women’s interactions. The film portrays its female characters as complex figures, capable of both malicious and compassionate actions, thereby promoting a more layered perspective on female relationships.

In sum, “Mean Girls” transcends its status as a mere comedic portrayal of high school life. It delves into significant themes such as power dynamics, identity, and bullying, offering insights into the adolescent social experience. The film’s enduring impact on culture and its utility as an educational tool highlight its importance in facilitating discussions about the social challenges faced by young adults. Through a blend of humor and critical observation, “Mean Girls” dissects the trials and tribulations of navigating identity and acceptance in the often tumultuous landscape of high school.


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Putin Will Visit Xi, Testing a ‘No Limits’ Partnership

Moscow seeks more support for its war in Ukraine. But Beijing risks alienating Europe, a key trading partner needed to help revive China’s economy.

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The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia walk down a carpeted flight of stairs with formally dressed officials, some wearing face masks, near them.

By David Pierson and Paul Sonne

When China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, hosts President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in China this week, it will be more than two years since the two autocratic leaders declared a “no limits” partnership to push back against what they consider American bullying and interference.

Growing challenges from the West have tested the limits of that partnership.

Mr. Xi is walking a narrowing tightrope, coming under increasing diplomatic and economic pressure to curtail Chinese support for Russia and its war in Ukraine. A tighter embrace of Mr. Putin now could further alienate Europe, a key trading partner, as Beijing seeks to improve its image in the West, and retain access for Chinese exports to help revitalize its sluggish economy.

“China sees Russia as an important strategic partner and wants to give Putin proper respect, but it also wants to maintain sound relations with Europe and the United States for economic reasons and beyond. It is a very difficult balancing act,” said Shen Dingli, a Shanghai-based international relations scholar.

Mr. Putin, for his part, may be testing Mr. Xi’s appetite for risk, as he tries to deter Western nations from more actively supporting Ukraine. Last week, while Mr. Xi was in France meeting President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Putin ordered drills for the use of tactical nuclear weapons . The move was seen as the most explicit warning so far that Russia could potentially use battlefield nuclear weapons in the war, which Mr. Xi has explicitly drawn a line against.

The Russian leader is also likely to press Mr. Xi for more support to sustain his country’s isolated economy and its war machine in Ukraine.

Show of Unity and Strength

Mr. Putin has just celebrated his fifth inauguration as president, setting him up to become the longest-serving Russian leader in centuries if he serves his full term. And Mr. Xi has just returned from a trip to Europe where he was exalted in the pro-Russian states of Serbia and Hungary and wined and dined in France. He left the region without making any major concessions on trade or Ukraine.

Mr. Xi has met with Mr. Putin over 40 times, including virtually, more than any other leader. The two often exchange birthday greetings and refer to each other as an “old” or “dear” friend. More crucially, they also appear to see in each other a strategic partner in a great geopolitical rivalry and will likely use the talks to depict themselves as leaders of an alternative global system aimed at eroding American dominance.

“The goal is to demonstrate how closely China and Russia are standing next to each other,” said Yun Sun, the director of the China program at the Stimson Center in Washington.

But this solidarity with Russia makes China a target for Western pressure.

The United States asserts that Beijing, while not supplying lethal weapons, is still aiding the Kremlin’s war efforts by providing satellite intelligence, fighter jet parts, microchips and other dual-use equipment in addition to filling Moscow’s coffers as a top buyer of Russian oil. Washington has imposed sanctions on a slew of Chinese companies for links to the war, and threatened to blacklist Chinese financial institutions doing business with Russian firms.

Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow’s war in Ukraine has also hurt China’s standing with the European Union. In France, when confronted about the war, Mr. Xi bristled and said China was “not at the origin of this crisis, nor a party to it, nor a participant.”

China’s ‘Straddle’ May Be Working

Mr. Xi has made no suggestion that he would use his influence on Mr. Putin to bring the war to an end. And he may feel little need to do so.

China’s strategy of aligning with Russia while attempting to steady ties with the West at the same time, which some have described as a strategic straddle, may be paying off.

China’s relationship with the United States, which plummeted to multi-decade lows last year, is somewhat more stable now. And major European leaders continue to engage with Mr. Xi, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, who brought business executives with him on a visit to Beijing last month.

The approach is winning more support at home for Mr. Xi. Chinese scholars and think tank analysts see the momentum on the battlefield shifting in Russia’s favor, said Evan S. Medeiros , a professor of Asian studies at Georgetown University.

“For Xi, the strategic straddle is working better than they could have imagined, and China has paid little cost for it,” he said.

Mr. Xi also needs Russia as a counterweight in his country’s rivalry with the United States, which plays out over U.S. support for Taiwan, China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and access to cutting-edge technology. China and Russia have ramped up military drills in the East China Sea, placing pressure on Taiwan, the self-governed island Beijing claims as its territory.

“Even if the China-Russia relationship was not as close,” said Xiao Bin, a Beijing-based expert on China’s relations with Russia, “the political elites in the U.S. may not regard China as a strategic partner, but would keep viewing China as a potential threat, even an enemy.”

Putin’s Growing Dependence on China

Mr. Putin, however, runs the risk of becoming over-reliant on China to a degree that might have made Russian officials uncomfortable in the past. China has become Russia’s lifeline since the invasion of Ukraine, displacing the European Union as Russia’s largest trading partner.

Mr. Putin is still pursuing his own interests. His growing coziness with North Korea, which is supplying Russia with munitions, could result in both countries being less reliant on Beijing.

But amid its isolation from the West, the Kremlin has been left with little choice: Mr. Putin needs China to buy energy, to supply dual-use components such as computer chips to sustain his military, and to provide a currency with which to carry out foreign transactions.

Last year, some 89 percent of the “high-priority” imports necessary for Russian weapons production came from China, according to a customs data analysis by Nathaniel Sher, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Those include everything from machine tools used to build military equipment to optical devices, electronic sensors and telecommunications gear, the analysis found.

“It’s much more survival mode. You are in a war situation,” said Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center and an expert in Sino-Russian relations.

For Mr. Putin, hedging against China “is a luxury he doesn’t have anymore,” he added.

Olivia Wang contributed reporting.

David Pierson covers Chinese foreign policy and China’s economic and cultural engagement with the world. He has been a journalist for more than two decades. More about David Pierson

Paul Sonne is an international correspondent, focusing on Russia and the varied impacts of President Vladimir V. Putin’s domestic and foreign policies, with a focus on the war against Ukraine. More about Paul Sonne

Our Coverage of the War in Ukraine

News and Analysis

As Russia’s war effort in Ukraine intensifies, it is increasingly clear that efforts by the West to squeeze Moscow’s oil revenues are faltering .

The United States and Europe are coalescing around a plan to use interest earned on frozen Russian central bank assets to provide Ukraine with a loan to be used for military and economic assistance .

The Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia were a show of solidarity  between two autocrats battling Western pressure.

Europe’s Defense Industry: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jolted Europe out of complacency about military spending. But the challenges are about more than just money .

Putin’s Victory Narrative: The Russian leader’s message to his country appears to be taking hold : that Russia is fighting against the whole Western world — and winning.

A Boxing Win Offers Hope: The Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk became the world’s undisputed heavyweight champion, a victory that has lifted morale  in a country struggling to contain Russian advances.

How We Verify Our Reporting

Our team of visual journalists analyzes satellite images, photographs , videos and radio transmissions  to independently confirm troop movements and other details.

We monitor and authenticate reports on social media, corroborating these with eyewitness accounts and interviews. Read more about our reporting efforts .


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