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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C

Worried about your child being bullied online? Here’s some helpful advice

Cyberbullying can happen to anyone. It’s always wrong and it should never be overlooked or ignored.

THE INTERNET PRESENTS wonderful opportunities for children, from education to entertainment.

Despite the great opportunity it represents, the internet contains its fair share of safety concerns that all parents worry about. Chief amongst them is cyberbullying, which can affect any child on the internet.

The Safer Internet Day 2023 Report and Research Findings, which is available to view on Webwise, noted that 45.3% of teenagers in Ireland had witnessed some kind of mistreatment online, meaning it’s more important than ever for parents and teachers to speak with children about their online activities.

As shown in the above report, cyberbullying is sadly one of the more common negative experiences children encounter online in Ireland. The effects of cyberbullying can last a long time and affect a person in many ways. However, there are steps we can take to support children and teens online.

There’s lots of helpful advice for families and schools available from Webwise. These include the Parent’s Hub, which provides helpful talking points and conversation starters that can help parents to deal with conflict around technology use at home.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying with the use of digital technologies. It can take place on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms and smartphones.


It’s important to note that Cyberbullying can happen to anyone. It’s always wrong and it should never be overlooked or ignored.

Children may not be aware of the emotional damage cyberbullying, and all other forms of bullying can cause to the victim. Educating your children on this topic and enforcing the importance of not standing by while someone else is being bullied will help contribute to responsible internet use. 

As cyberbullying takes place on the internet, we don’t see the victim in front of us. You can’t tell the impact cyberbullying has on a person as a result. 

What parents can do to prevent cyberbullying

Prevention is better than cure. Talk to your child about online bullying before it happens. 

1. Early conversations

It’s never too late to start conversations and teach children about safe and respectful communication. An important part of the conversation is around developing good habits around how they use technology, reviewing the settings and talking to them about making friends online. 

2. Privacy settings and features

Privacy settings go a long way in keeping your child safe online. Your child can choose who gets to be friends with them online and stay protected from other users. Familiarise yourself with the apps they are using and go through the settings together. Ensure your child understands the safety features, such as blocking and reporting. Talk to them about who they are connecting with and avoid having profiles set to public.

3. Encourage positive connection and respectful communication

Encourage your child to treat others with respect online in all of their interactions. Remind them that they play a role in making the internet a friendly place for all. Open a dialogue with them about how to be a good friend on the internet, including when they witness cyberbullying taking place. If they see cyberbullying take place, let them know that they can report it to help those that are being bullied.

4. Asking for help

Talk to your child about the steps to take when they need help. Establishing rules around what is acceptable on the internet can help guide them in this regard. They shouldn’t feel nervous or fearful to approach you if they need help, so reminding them that you support them and are willing to listen can be extremely helpful.

5. What to do if something goes wrong

Remind your child that they can come to you if anything upsets them online. If cyberbullying has occurred, remember to keep the messages and instances of abuse. Report the abusive parties to the moderators of the platform where it took place. Banning your child from using the internet or taking away their smartphone can damage trust and may make them less likely to come forward if cyberbullying occurs again.

Remain calm and don’t alarm them by taking immediate action they’re not comfortable with. But it should also be made clear to them that in order to help them, you may have to speak with their teachers and the parents of other children who may be involved and contact the Gardaí in serious cases.

Supports for schools

WebwiseTeachersHub offers a range of curriculum aligned resources, lessons, training and advice for schools. These resources are highly informative and practical and contain a wealth of expert advice.

You can also check out the Cyberbullying Hub which includes guidance around dealing with cyberbullying, creating anti-cyberbullying culture and how to ensure the wellbeing of students.

Oide Technology in Education and Webwise have created two new online courses around cyberbullying for all teachers and school leaders, primary and post primary. These courses provide teachers with the knowledge, resources and confidence to teach about cyberbullying and deal with cyberbullying incidents as they arise. 

Webwise is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre. Webwise is co-funded by the Department of Education and co-financed by the European Commission. promotes safer, better Internet use through awareness raising and education initiatives targeting teachers, children, young people and parents.

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