5 Signs your child is a cyberbully

April 1, 2013

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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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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

Kids and Gaming: Let’s Talk About It

February 25, 2011

Technology and gaming can cause tension in families. Some parents become exasperated at what they believe to be their children’s over-use of technology. Gamers enjoy the sense of achievement, exhilaration and “flow” they experience.

The notion of “flow” has been documented by scholars such as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and others. It is difficult to explain, but when you experience it, you know.


  • To watch an educational video focused on technology as a family.
  • To discuss the pros and cons of gaming for individuals, families and communities.
  • To explore the notion of responsible gaming and how to use technology skills for the benefit of others.
  • To offer perspectives on what activities offer a sense of achievement, exhilaration and “flow” to both children and parents.


Watch Jane McGonigal’s 2010 TED talk “Gaming Can Make a Better World” (20:02) together as a family.

Conversation questions

  • What do you think of McGonigal’s idea that gaming can make a better world? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • How are you using technology now in your daily life? Do you over-use technology? Under-use technology? What do these terms mean, anyway?
  • How can you use technology to help others? (This can include things like helping family members improve their technology literacy, using technology skills in volunteer and community work, etc.)
  • What other activities in your life give you a sense of achievement and exhilaration?

Further reading for parents

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, New York: Harper Perennial.
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1996), Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life, Basic Books.
Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (2003), Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, New York: Penguin Books.

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

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

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