5 Signs your child is a cyberbully

Sarah Eaton's education blogParents, educators and even children are aware that bullying is moving out of the playground and into virtual spaces. According to the American Humane Association, 15% to 20% of children bully others online.

In a previous post I talked about signs to help you figure out if your child is being cyberbullied. But what if your child is the cyberbully?

Here are 5 key indicators that your child is harassing others online:
  1. Is secretive about online activities. The cyberbully does not want to be discovered by parents, grandparents, teachers or others who may hold them accountable.
  2. Quickly switches computer screens or closes the screen when you enter the room or walk by. This is a tactic often used by people who do not want others to discover what they have been doing online. Watch for indicators that your child works to quickly minimize an online browser, close a web page or change screens within a second or two of you approaching the computer they are using. This is a sign that your child does not want you to know what they have been doing online.
  3. Uses the computer or mobile devices late at night or when he or she is unsupervised. Inappropriate online behavior is more likely to occur when the bully feels that no one is watching or supervising their actions. They feel less accountable for their online activity when left alone to misbehave.
  4. Gets extremely upset if computer privileges are revoked. While almost any child in today’s world may get upset if their technology privileges are taken away, the cyberbully may become particularly sulky, defensive or angry. The virtual space is where they feel all-powerful and free of consequences, so when that privilege is revoked, they may feel completely disempowered or oppressed.
  5. Uses multiple online accounts or accounts with a fake name. The cyberbully is likely to take the time to create multiple online accounts using public e-mail systems such as Hotmail, Google or Yahoo, since they feel these are less easily traceable. The cyberbully will often lack the courage to represent themselves online in an authentic and transparent manner.

Cyberbullies often feel like victims themselves. In my next post I’ll talk about characteristics of cyberbullies and how harassing others online may be just one sign of deeper mental or emotional illness.


Related post: How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied http://wp.me/pNAh3-1w4



Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

PureSight Online Child Saftey (Author). (n.d.). What should I do if my child is a cyberbully?   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/what-should-i-do-if-my-child-is-a-cyber-bully.html

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

2 Responses to 5 Signs your child is a cyberbully

  1. admazur says:

    Thank-you Dr. Eaton. This is an excellent reference source for parents!

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