Spotting the Warning Signs of Cyberbullying

What is cyberbullying? How can you spot the warning signs? And how can it be prevented?

Many teenagers and young adults have experienced bullying at school, at their part-time jobs, and in their close social networks. Adolescence is a period of time that, for some, is difficult to endure, and lots of teenagers have been emotionally and physically traumatized by the experience. With the increased use of technology, bullying now not only occurs in face-to-face context, but also online.

Cyberbullying is a growing occurrence amongst young people that has serious consequences for many victims. Young people are being hurt and losing self-esteem and confidence. According to cyberbullying research conducted by the Cybersmile Foundation, every 20 minutes, a young person between the ages of 10–19 attempts suicide. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data that found 16% of high school students were victims of cyberbullying in 2011. These alarmingly high numbers show that adults need to be aware of what is occurring in young peoples' lives and recognize signs of cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying occurs online via smart phones, computers, and tablets. It occurs through email, text messages, social media, or online gaming and can involve:

  • Sending mean messages to someone
  • Spreading rumors on public forums
  • Posting embarrassing photographs or stories
  • Using a fake profile to trick or deceive someone

According to, teenagers who experience cyberbullying are often bullied in person as well. It's hard for young people to escape cyberbullying, because they can be subjected to it easily. Remind your child never to post personal information online such as telephone numbers, bank details, and addresses because unwanted parties can use this information. And remind kids to never meet people face-to-face that they only know online.

How to spot the warning signs

Many parents are unaware that their child is a victim of bullying until it becomes very serious. There are, however, ways that you can spot the warning signs. Victims of cyberbullying will often:

  • Become withdrawn or unsocial
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Avoid going online or using their phones
  • Quickly close web pages if someone comes near
  • Avoid or refuse to go to school

How can cyberbullying be prevented?

While it is difficult to control how young people use the internet, parents should be aware of how their children are interacting online and be vigilant for any changes in behavior that may have resulted from cyberbullying. Encourage teenagers to speak openly about any issues they are encountering and suggest they do not respond to any online attacks. If they are being abused in social media settings, they should block the offender and remove them from their profile.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

bullying cyberbullying cyberbullying prevention stop bullying what is bullying

About Lori McNeil

Lori had a change of career from education when she had her first child and started to focus her research on safety for kids. She loves writing about the latest tech for children to share with her colleagues.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin


I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.

Anthony Vidal

Anthony Vidal

High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress has helped me in a series of different ways when it comes to finding scholarships and learning information about different universities. I actually found my dream university through CollegeXpress and am working on getting there.

Caio Matos

Caio Matos

High School Class of 2022

Starting the college admissions process as an international student was daunting. Thankfully, CollegeXpress was the first website I used for that cause and it helped me so much, from knowing where to start to deciding what my next move would be. I'll take a gap year, but I’m certainly using the website again when applying for fall 2023.

Lexie Knutson

Lexie Knutson

High School Class of 2021

This whole website has helped me overcome the attitude I had before. I was scared to even approach the thought of college because it was so much. I knew it wasn’t just a few easy steps, and I panicked mostly, instead of actually trying. Without realizing it, CollegeXpress did exactly what I usually do when I panic, which is take it one step at a time. With college I forget that because it’s more than just a small to-do list, but this website was really helpful and overall amazing. So thank you!

Keydi Banegas

Keydi Banegas

Scholarship for Students of Color Winner, Class of 2022

CollegeXpress is a great application that helped me search for many different scholarships, and it narrows the scholarships depending on how you set your profile. Not only that, but it helps you choose different colleges to apply to by finding matches through the description of your profile. It was the best experience for me.

College Matches