What Are the Forms of Cyberbullying in 2018? 

Social media and 24/7 connectivity means bullying looks a little different than it did in the pre-digital era. The forms of cyberbullying are many these days, and include cyberstalking, impersonation, doxxing, and more.

But before we get into that, let’s define bullying. For an aggressive act to be considered bullying, three criteria need to be met. First, there needs to be a power differential. The bully has more power than the bullied, be it physical power, social power, or economic power. Second, there is an intent to harm. Bullying isn’t an act of misunderstanding, miscommunication, or an accident. Third, bullying is repeated. A shove is an assault. A shove every day is bullying.

In an online world, each of these characteristics can look very different. For example, power in an online context can refer to somebody being more technically skilled. Cyberbullying is something that every parent worries about and it can be quite complicated.

So, what are the forms of cyberbullying in 2018?


Impersonation works a few ways. A cyberbully can use a false identity (for example, on Facebook) to torment their victim, thus covering their own tracks. Or, a cyberbully can impersonate someone their victim knows, perhaps to damage relationships or wheedle information out of their victim. Or the cyberbully can impersonate their victim in order to ruin a reputation.


Cyberbullies can spread rumours to embarrass or harm their victims. The 24/7 nature of social media means that the rumour mill is always running and kids don’t really have a ‘break’ from their social lives.


Cyberstalking involves following a person across social media and other Internet accounts, frequently sending harassing or aggressive message. The cyberbully will make their victim fear for their safety. The cyberbully may not even know their victim offline.

Note that in Canada, cyberstalking can be considered criminal harassment.


Flaming is when a cyberbully makes vulgar, abusive, or aggressive comments in order to start a fight. Teenagers sometimes call this “drama”.

Sharing Private Images

Cyberbullies can upload or share private or embarrassing images with other cyberbullies. One so-called “sexting ring” in the US has resulted in three teenagers charged with serious crimes and a further 20 referred to a juvenile review board.

In Canada, this is called non-consensual distribution of intimate images and is an evolving area of law.

Note that if you need help removing images from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, a peer’s phone, and more, visit NeedHelpNow.ca.

Password Theft

Cyberbullies can attempt to figure out their victims account passwords to manipulate their social media accounts, humiliate them, or even cyberbully others.

Website Creation

Some cyberbullies have a lot of time on their hands. How much? Enough to create entire websites devoted to torment, humiliate, or embarrass their victims. A Burlington, ON, teenager ended up leaving school after he found out about a website created specifically to bully him.


Doxxing is when someone researches and broadcasts private information about a person or organisation. In the context of cyberbullying, it involves finding out a person’s private accounts and online activities and then making them public. For example, a gay teen may post on an LGBT forum under a username they keep secret. A cyberbully could figure out the username and then publish it widely.

PC Attacks

A tech-savvy cyberbully may attempt to infect their victim’s computer with viruses, spyware, or other malware.

Proxy Attacks

A proxy attack is something only a very technologically savvy cyberbully would try. Basically, the bully installs a proxy on their victim’s computer. The victim’s Internet traffic travels through the proxy, which sends said information to the bully. The bully can then use whatever confidential information they glean in their bullying.

The Bottom Line

The forms of cyberbullying have certainly changed. However, the first step to fighting cyberbullying is knowledge. By understanding the forms of cyberbullying and how bullies operate online, you can help your child or teen take steps to stop cyberbullying.


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The Good Side of Technology: It’s Not All Bad!

Post by Takara Bond, Graduate student in the Human Development, Learning, and Culture Program at the University of British Columbia.

Many of us have become enamored with our technology. We wake up and our phone is beside us, bursting with notifications. We start our day by checking social media, seeing what our friends have been up to and how many likes our last Instagram post received. Then as we are getting ready, we may scroll through Facebook while eating breakfast or read the news on Twitter while going to school or work. When we need a break from work, we often turn to Instagram to look at cute cats and travel destinations. At lunch, we might share the latest viral video with classmates and coworkers between replying to snaps on Snapchat. Then, we head home with a podcast or music playing in our ears, preparing for an evening of Netflix while cycling through Tumblr, Reddit, and 9gag.

Often, we focus on the negative aspects of having a high integration of social technology in our lives. Here on this blog and website, we have discuss such things as cyberbullying to Internet addiction, as well as the risks of lonliness, and reduced face2face social interaction. Yet, there are many benefits that arise from social technology, when it is used in moderation.

Social technology allows us to stay in touch with friends who live far away, enhances the friendships with those who live nearby, and allow us to establish new friendships with like-minded people. This is especially beneficial for people who experience marginalization, (i.e., ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities). This social connection promotes resilience and a sense of belonging, both of which are beneficial for teens and adults alike.

Social technology can also be used to support our learning by planning a study group, sharing relevant information found online, and communicating with others to find out what we missed while away. We can engage with social technology to learn more about things we enjoy or information we didn’t understand at work or school and gain insight into what’s happening in our community and the world around us. These ways of using social technology promote both academic engagement and civic engagement, with many teens becoming more politically aware and involved through social technology.

And finally, we enjoy using social technology as it’s a window into other’s experiences and it provides different perspectives. Positive comments and likes received on social technology provide empowerment, and one in five teens say that social technology makes them feel more confident.

To experience these benefits, however, it is important to find balance – being glued to our devices at the expense of living life is not healthy or adaptive, so it’s important to encourage your child (and yourself) not to lose site of that balance.  Below are some conversations starters to talk with youth to help them ensure that they are spending a healthy and appropriate amount of time online:

  • Do you think social technology makes your friendships stronger or weaker, and why?
  • Do you interact similarly with your friends whether it’s online or face2face (talk about the same things; share as much)? How do you think each way of socializing helps or weakens your friendships?
  • Where do you go to online to learn more about material from school, world news, or your other interests? How can you be sure that the information you’re reading is true? Are there other ways to get information?
  • How do you make sure you aren’t spending too much time using social technology? What are some signs that you’ve been online too long?

Want more information about the benefits of social technology? Take a look here:





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