Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is bullying carried out using electronic means.

Text on mobile phone: I HATE U!!!! I HATE U!!!! I HATE

Peter Smith, one of the most well known cyber bullying researchers in Europe, defines cyber bullying as: 

An aggressive, intentional act carried out by a group or individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself (Smith, et al., 2008).

Popular digital tools and arenas that might be used in cyberbullying are: Sms, Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube, Instagram. Thus, cyberbullying might include the use of both films, pictures and texts.

As for the traditional form of bullying we recognize even here the three citeria for bullying; aggressive act, repetition and an imbalance of power.

However, there might be other aspects related to these three criteria, which might result in new challenges when it comes to this form for bullying. These new challenges are:

  • It can be difficult to discover whether it is an intentional aggressive behaviour (when you do not see the victim); you do not see body language, eyes or hear the way things are said.
  • There are fewer adults present on the digital arena, this makes it also difficult to identify, and less supervision from adults is possible.
  • The imbalance of power include new aspects like anonymity, technological skills, the wider audience and the access to the victim anywhere and anytime. All these aspects may make the victim more anxious.
  • One act constitutes repetition when it happens on the digital arena, thus the action does not need to be repated by the bully to constitute repetition; a picture can be forwarded to a great audience, which means that many get access to, or see, it. And, an sms sent only once can be looked up several times. Thus, the nature of digital tools constitutes repetition.
  • No facial/emotional reactions of the victim is visual for the bully/sender, this makes it easier do hurt someone


Smith, P.K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S. N., og Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: it’s nature and impact in secondary schools pupils’. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 376-385.