Online bullying

Online bullying

Bullying doesn't just happen in the playground. It can happen anywhere, including online, and in many ways. Bullies can reach you through your phone, laptop, games console or tablet.

But don't worry, we're here to help.

Explore: understanding online bullying

Children might get nasty emails, texts or offensive messages and posts on social media.

Your child might not know who is bullying them as users can post anonymously. There are anonymous websites, sharing services and apps that let young people explore issues and ask difficult questions. But this anonymity can increase the risk of bullying or contact from strangers.

Bullying can also involve being blocked, ignored or excluded from games or social media sites. On Minecraft, a video game, some players are known as Griefers. They try to destroy or steal things other players have built or collected. Sometimes they work alone or as groups to cause as much havoc as possible.

You need to be aware that your child could be doing the bullying. They might not realise excluding someone counts as bullying, or comments they view as banter are actually hurtful.

Talk: having the conversation

Chat to your child about what they would do if they were being bullied and what they think should or shouldn't be said online. Remind them that their behaviour online should reflect their offline behaviour. Encourage them to think before they post or share information, even anonymously.

If you're worried your child could be bullying others, tell them it's not okay. Talk to them about how to behave online. If they wouldn't say it in real life, or they wouldn't want someone to say it to them, they shouldn't say it online.

Agree: setting the ground rules

Young people said the number one thing that worries them about Minecraft is bullying. This is a common concern with other games too. If your child's worried, you could turn off the chat feature while they play.

If your child does get bullied, have a plan. Encourage them not to respond or retaliate. Get them to log off and show them how to block and remove bullies from their friends or followers list. Make sure you keep any evidence.

Manage: taking control

If your child's being bullied by anonymous users, check their privacy settings on social media and gaming sites to make sure only people they've accepted can see their profiles and message them.

In Minecraft, find a child friendly server. They have strict rules on language and behaviour, and are often moderated by parents. You can find safe servers by searching online. Create a white list too. It's like an invite list for a birthday party, only people a moderator has verified can join in. If you're still not sure, call our helpline on 0808 800 5002.

If your child is being bullied, or is bullying others, try to keep hold of the evidence like screenshots of messages or comments. You might want to make the school or youth club aware. Let your child know you're always there for them, but if they feel too embarrassed or scared to talk, they can talk to a teacher or call Childline on 0800 1111.

And if you're on O2, you can report to us any offensive messages and calls you or your child are getting.

Other ways to get in touch

The children pictured are models. Photography by Jon Challicom.