Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Cyberbullying: factsheet

Key points

  • One in five students report they have experienced cyberbullying. 
  • Students can make a complaint about cyberbullying to the social media service or the eSafety Commissioner.  
  • The eSafety Guide includes information on features of apps such as anonymous communication and encryption that can make it harder to prove cyberbullying.  
  • eSafety Education has resources to help teachers embed cyberbullying prevention in the curriculum.  
  • All students need to be taught specific technical, personal and social skills to help deal with cyberbullying.

Facts and stats

The national definition of bullying for Australian schools at Bullying. No Way! describes behaviour that is repeated or has the potential to be repeated. Cyberbullying is covered by this definition even when there is only a single instance of abuse, because the fact that it occurs online means it may be ‘repeated’ through sharing. 

Cyberbullying can take many forms, including posting mean comments or messages, excluding or ignoring someone, tricking or humiliating them through fake accounts, or sharing a photo or video that will make them feel bad. Threatening to share an intimate image without the consent of the person in it, such as a naked selfie, is called image-based abuse.

According to eSafety research

One in five young Australians aged 8 to 17 years reported being socially excluded, threatened or abused online.

1 in 5 young people (15% of kids, 24% of teens) also admitted to behaving in a negative way to a peer online — such as name calling, deliberately excluding them, or spreading lies or rumours.

90% of these had had a negative online experience themselves.

How to report and block

Making a complaint to the social media company

Social media community standards outline how to behave on social media. They discourage the use of a service to harass or bully others or act in other ways that are anti-social or illegal. The eSafety Guide has links to help users report abusive content on a variety of services, games and apps. It also has other handy online safety information, like how a user can block someone from contacting them.

Reporting to eSafety

The cyberbullying team at eSafety helps with the removal of cyberbullying material. Even in cases where we are unable to remove material, we can offer advice, assistance and resources. 

Research shows that students who have had an information session are more likely to report abuse. We recommend all students attend an information session explaining how to report cyberbullying.

Watch this video on reporting serious cyberbullying or print the How to report cyberbullying poster and place around the school.

App features that increase the risk

The eSafety Guide includes information to help teachers and students choose safer apps and report cyberbullying if it occurs.

Anonymous communication 

Anonymous online services allow people to communicate and share content without revealing their name or true identity. People may use a fake name or an avatar to represent them. However, not all services that claim to be anonymous are truly anonymous. Online activity and the content shared may still be traceable and recordable in some way.

Apps used for anonymous communication include: Omegle, Kik, Qooh.me, Yolo

Encryption 

Encrypted content can only be viewed by using a secret code to unscramble the data, which is usually done automatically by the software. This makes it harder to detect illegal content or conduct.

Apps that use encryption include: WhatsApp, WeChat

eSafety resources — Cyberbullying

The eSafety website includes advice for kids, young people or adults who may be experiencing online abuse.

Lower Primary

Hector’s world (animated series)
Keep it Sweet (slide deck)

Middle Primary

Cybersmart Hero (animation)

Upper Primary

The Lost Summer (video game)
Game On (video series)
Penguins (animation)
Sticks and Stones (animation)

Lower Secondary

The Internet and The Law (slide deck)
Respect Matters (slide deck)
Young and eSafe (videos and lesson plans)
Be Deadly Online (animated series)

Upper Secondary

The YeS Project (video and lesson plans)
Tagged (video and lesson plans)
Rewrite Your Story (video and lesson plans)

Resources for parents

Taming the technology (advice on parental controls, safe searching and device filters)

Prevent and manage cyberbullying

From Early Years to Year 2 students should build skills in:

  • respectful online relationships (as part of the HPE curriculum)
  • interacting respectfully online
  • identifying how emotional responses differ in online environments, e.g. excitement when playing games
  • blocking and reporting for safe online relationships 
  • help-seeking strategies such as going to a trusted adult.

Between Years 3 to 6, students should:

  • understand the nature of online identity and the range of ways that people express themselves and their emotions online
  • describe the ways that technology can enhance relationships between people
  • practise appropriate communication strategies to share power within relationships online
  • develop digital skills to manage negative experiences; managing what they see in their feed, controlling who can contact them, balancing time spent online and reporting bullying and discrimination
  • investigate support services such as the eSafety Commissioner and Kids Helpline.

From Years 7 to 10 students should:

  • apply concepts of rights and responsibilities in making online decisions
  • understand the psycho-social impacts of cyberbullying and the legislation that is used to protect young people from serious cyberbullying
  • identify situations where an imbalance of power plays a role in cyberbullying incidents and practise strategies that can be put in place to deescalate or redress the power balance
  • evaluate the most appropriate sources of support if they experience cyberbullying 
  • offer empathetic support to someone else who has experienced cyberbullying.

Appendix A: Curriculum links

 

Visit the Online Safety Curriculum Connection to:

  • identify more content in the Australian Curriculum that supports the teaching and learning of online safety
  • access a range of interdisciplinary resources developed to support the teaching and learning of online safety.

Appendix B: Research and useful links 

Youth and digital dangers eSafety Commissioner

Youth and online gaming in Australia – state of play eSafety Commissioner 

Young people and sexting eSafety Commissioner

Spotlight on nude photo sharing: helping parents and teachers respond eSafety Commissioner, in collaboration with SBS Learn for ‘The Hunting’ TV series