What is cyberbullying?

Understand cyberbullying

Kids call it hating, drama, gossip or trolling. Whatever name it goes by, cyberbullying is serious. It can be emotionally damaging and even lead to tragic consequences. It's happening enough that, as a country, we need to do more about it.

Simply put, cyberbullying is when a child or teen becomes a target of actions by others – using computers, cellphones or other devices – that are intended to embarrass, humiliate, torment, threaten or harass. It can start as early as age eight or nine, but the majority of cyberbullying takes place in the teenage years, up to age 17.

Most often, it's sustained and repeated over a period of time. But whether it's sharing one humiliating photo or 1,000 harmful text messages, it can damage a young person's feelings, self-esteem, reputation and mental health.

Unlike face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can be relentless. It can reach a victim anywhere at anytime: alone in their bedroom, walking home from school, or even on a family vacation.

Because it can spread quickly, to a wide audience, you might be surprised to learn that most teens today have been involved in some way or other, either as a target, as a bully, as a silent observer, or as someone who participates on the sidelines and becomes part of the problem without realizing what they're doing.

The range of cyberbullying tactics is wide, and is continually changing as new technology emerges and different social networking sites pop up.

Here are some of the common ways that cyberbullying is taking place among young people across Canada:

Cyberbullying facts and other essentials

Fact #1

Almost 1 in 10 Canadian online teens – 8 per cent – say they have been victims of online bullying on social networking sites. Footnote 1

Fact #2

More than one-third (35 per cent) of Canadian teens with a profile on a social networking site have seen mean or inappropriate comments about someone they know.Footnote 1

14 per cent say they have seen mean or inappropriate comments about themselves on social networks.Footnote 1

Fact #3

18 per cent of Canadian parents say they have a child who has experienced cyberbullying.Footnote 2
31 per cent say they know a child in their community who has experienced cyberbullying.Footnote 2

Fact #4

90 per cent of Canadians would support a law that would make it illegal to use any electronic means to coerce, intimidate, harass or cause other substantial emotional distress.Footnote 3

Essential things to know about cyberbullying


  1. 1

    Ipsos, Bullies Taking to Social Networking as Teens Become More Mobile, February 2013

  2. 2

    Ipsos Global @dvisor, Cyberbullying, December 2011

  3. 3

    Angus Reid, Bullying, February 2012

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