Cyberbullying to Children: Should We Allow Our Children to Use Social Media?

Social interaction nowadays relies heavily on social media.  Based on Pew Research’s Survey, 93% of teens in the USA use social media, which contains different social media platforms. However, users are often unaware of the dangers that it causes. Teenagers significantly jump into the digital sphere, like Alice in Wonderland when she first enters Wonderland, where everything looks beautiful, unique, engaging, and offers much fun without realising the dangers that may harm them at any time. Just imagine how millions of teens and children can easily access social media without knowing the harm and trap inside that platform, including cyberbullying. Sadly, those teenagers are unable to get attention from their parents, caregivers, or even teachers about the bully; thus, millions of unheard voices experience traumatic impacts. 

On 27 March 2024, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report about the survey they conducted in 44 countries in Europe, Central Asia, and North America. The data concluded that one of the six school teenagers had experienced cyberbullying before. The cyberbullying phenomenon among teenagers is increasing because of the increasing number of digital interactions and digital natives. Based on Balas et al. (2023) data, the prevalence rate of cyberbullying is between 10 and 42% in England, Australia, Canada, and the USA, 28.9% in China, and 11 to 26% in Europe. This data is not just a number, but it is an alarm for us that cyberbullying is lurking in our children. Before we take action against this violent phenomenon, we should know more about what cyberbullying is. 

What is Cyberbullying?

Bullying is not an action that can be simplified. With the development of the internet, bullying now happens in the digital form since everyone can now talk about anything freely to the broader audience on the internet. This phenomenon is called cyberbullying. Cyberbullying may take many forms, including embarrassing or hurtful comments or photographs being posted online or sent to the victim, rumours being spread, sexual comments or gestures, threats of harm through messages, someone pretending to be the victim and even offensive videos (Schonfeld et al., 2023, p. 1). 

The characteristic of cyberbullying, as constructed by Kowalksi et al. (2012), is that the culprit of cyberbullying has the power to be anonymous, even becoming someone else, to spread rumours to the broader public in the digital sphere. That is the worst part about cyberbullying: the victims will never know how to heal themself because they do not know who is responsible for their trauma. The internet is a whole of anonymous people who can talk freely to another person. This anonymity increases the potential level of danger to a minor (Schonfeld et al., 2023, p.2). Based on the online medium of cyberbullying, the bullied youth experience more significant difficulties in escaping it and its related negative impacts (Balas et al., 2023). 

Why does cyberbullying happen?

Sometimes, as an audience, we should question this phenomenon: Why do these people do cyberbullying? Is it because they are angry? Sad? Were they affected by past trauma? Or are they just totally a jerk? 

There are four categories of bullying:

Of course, these four categories do not thoroughly describe a bully’s reasons for doing cyberbullying because it is a complex act to define. According to Kowalski, the cyberbullying act includes four components: intentionally aggressive behaviour, conduct repeatedly, different power between victims and perpetrators, and digital or electronic technology as the medium of bullying (Kowalski et al., 2014). No children are born to be bullies; they are only influenced by the cultural conditions in their environment. In a multicultural society, bullying often occurs in minority groups involving race, ethnicity, religion, and gender. Normalised bullying will become a culture of violence that attacks people not because of their behaviour but because of their identity.

The Impact of Cyberbullying on Children

In December 2023, a boy in Texas was found dead by suicide because of cyberbullying in his online games (Burke, 2023). In November 2023, Priyanshu Yadav took their own life because of cyberbullying that happened to them due to their queer identity (, 2023). Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old teenager, jumped from the George Washington Bridge after his friend secretly took a video of him inside the room and shared it with their peers in 2018 (CNN Indonesia, 2023). That is how cyber bullying impacts our world. 

On 27 March 2024, WHO researched cyberbullying in 44 countries in Europe, Central Asia and North America about cyberbullying by teenagers. The research concludes that the increasing number of teenagers using social media is one of the leading causes of high cyberbullying number today. Overall, 16% of adolescents reported that they had been cyberbullied at least once or twice in the past couple of months (15% of boys and 16% of girls) (WHO, 2024). Looking at this number, it is alarming to ensure we must tackle this problem seriously. 

A meta-analysis research by Landstedt and Persson (2014) indicates that cyberbullying is more intensely related to suicidal ideation than traditional bullying. There is even a term called “Cyberbullicide”, which is the act of suicide influenced by experience with online aggression (Maurya et al., 2022, p. 11).  Bullying is not an action that can be simplified. This type of violent communication contributes significantly to the cost of health and social services, reduces productivity, devalues property, damages several essential services, and, in general, undermines the fabric of society (Elamé, 2013). 

Should We Allow Our Teenager Children to Use Social Media?

After seeing all the reasons and impacts of cyberbullying, the next question is, should we give our teenage children access to social media? The answer is yes, but with complete assistance and observation before they mature enough to take responsibility. Even though social media is full of scams, hate speech, and fraud, we must accept that it offers positive benefits, too. A child who has a speech disability can interact freely without borders in social media. Teenagers who get discriminated against in schools can find their community online. Nevertheless, of course, these positive impacts come with their negative aspect. 

Social media platforms have already set an age limit for users to create accounts. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and X have the same age limit, which is 13 years old. However, we all know that underage users can easily fake their age and create their accounts. Balas (2023, p.2) said that parents, teachers, and several role models play an essential role in enabling children to develop valuable competencies not only for decreasing bullying risk but also for coping better with the negative consequences of this act. As their guardian, we must increase their awareness about how to use social media safely and overcome the consequences of social media. We can slowly introduce them to social media by using it as a communication medium between parents and children. Jeffery (2023) said that parents have to consider this aspect before giving their children consent to create a social media account:

  • Is my child especially vulnerable to online harms?
  • Does my child have the maturity and resilience to manage potentially harmful online social interactions?
  • Does my child listen to advice and follow rules?
  • Is my child aware of the risks, and do they have strategies for managing them?
  • Will my child come to me with any problems they encounter online?

Dr Jeffery (2023) also mentioned that it is more dangerous for our children to have a social media account secretly behind their parents because when they experience harmful acts, they will think that their parents will punish them or take away their phones. 

What should we do about it?

Cyberbullying is a complex phenomenon that is hard to measure to what extent that act considers cyberbullying, lousy behaviour, jokes, or critiques. Nevertheless, Flew (2021) said that this large-scale circulation of hate speech and other forms of online abuse shows that this kind of free speech absolutism needs to be considerably modified in the current legal, regulatory, and business environment. There are no statutes in Australia that expressly prohibit cyberbullying, and only one statute in New South Wales, the Crimes Act 1900, that outlaws bullying but is still limited to “assault, stalks, harasses or intimidates” (Butler, 2018, p. 50). Young (2016) interviewed 12 influential authoritative from the educational system about their perception of the role of law and cyberbullying. Specific laws may help society increase their awareness about cyberbullying and prevent future violent acts. However, this law can be used to criminalise underage children or other people as it is hard to measure which act can be categorised as cyberbullying and which act can be categorised as other behaviour acts. 

The government should collaborate with social media platforms to ensure users can easily report the perpetrators of cyberbullying, violation, online abuse, and hate speech with valid proof so users know what they should do if they experience cyberbullying. Schools also should create specific policies to prevent cyberbullying activities among their student. Butler (2018, p. 59) explained that the school has to develop antibullying policies that specifically extend to cyberbullying, disseminate and promote those policies, and properly investigate documents and respond to complaints of bullying.

As children’s guardians, parents should prioritise a prevention approach so their child will not become cyberbullied and violent to others. The most important thing is that we have to prepare to become their support systems when they experience online harm in social media because we can not let them suffer alone and do something harmful to their body.

“I think the biggest health problem in young people is that adolescents and children have developmental problems due to bullying behaviour. The solution could be for the government to educate and pay people to talk with youngsters if they are being bullied, address the bullies, and ask them why they bully others.”

(Flemish in WHO HBSC Reports).

There is no instant problem-solving when we talk about cyberbullying among teenagers and children. Cyberbullying is a complex, violent action because sometimes we do not even know who the perpetrators are. They can become anonymous and create a massive mental impact on the victims. The numbers of data that had been published showing this phenomenon have to be taken seriously by the government, the authorities and the community. Research conducted by Dan Olweus (1993) found that depression and low self-esteem from bullying can appear several years after the violent event occurred. Just imagine millions of adults in the future will experience these mental problems only because of cyberbullying that they experienced in the past. Effective digital policies must be created to prevent this from happening in the future. As children’s guardians, we also have a big part in their first step to digital “Wonderland” and help their adventure of exploring magical activity inside the internet. 

Reference List

Burke, M. (2023, December 12). Texas Child Died by Suicide during Online Game Following Cyberbullying, Authorities Said. Retrieved from NBC News website:

Butler, D., Campbell, M., & Bauman, S. (2018). Cyberbullying and the law: Parameters for effective interventions? In Reducing Cyberbullying in Schools (pp. 49–60). Academic Press.

Cosma, A., Molcho, M., & Pickett, W. (2024). A focus on adolescent peer violence and bullying in Europe, Central Asia and Canada. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children International Report from the 2021/2022 survey. Volume 2.

Esoh Elamé. (2013). Discriminatory Bullying. Springer Science & Business Media.

Flew, T. (2021). Regulating Platforms. S.L.: Polity Press.

Indonesia, C. N. N. (2023, March 15). 4 Kasus Bullying di Dunia yang Viral dan Berakhir Tragis Bagi Korban – Halaman 2. Retrieved April 5, 2024, from internasional website:

Jeffery, C. P. (2023, February 10). Is 13 too young to have a TikTok or Instagram account? Retrieved from The Conversation website:

Kowalski, R. M., Giumetti, G. W., Schroeder, A. N., & Lattanner, M. R. (2014). Bullying in the digital age: A critical review and meta-analysis of cyberbullying research among youth. Psychological Bulletin140(4), 1073–1137.

Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S., Agatston, P. W., & Wiley, J. (2012). Cyberbullying: bullying in the digital age. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.

Landstedt, E., & Persson, S. (2014). Bullying, cyberbullying, and mental health in young people. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health42(4), 393–399.

Maurya, C., Muhammad, T., Dhillon, P., & Maurya, P. (2022). The effects of cyberbullying victimisation on depression and suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults: a three-year cohort study from India. BMC Psychiatry22(1).

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. New York, NY: Blackwell.

Reka Borka Balas, Lorena Elena Meliț, Sarkozi, D., Dana Valentina Ghiga, & Cristina Oana Mărginean. (2023). Cyberbullying in teenagers – a true burden in the era of online socialisation. Medicine102(25), e34051–e34051.

Reka Borka Balas, Lorena Elena Meliț, Sarkozi, D., Dana Valentina Ghiga, & Cristina Oana Mărginean. (2023). Cyberbullying in teenagers – a true burden in the era of online socialisation. Medicine102(25), e34051–e34051.

Sabella, R. A. (2009). Cyberbullying: Who, what, where, why, and what now?Counseling and Human Development, 41(8), 1-14,16. Retrieved from

Schonfeld, A., McNiel, D., Toyoshima, T., & Binder, R. (2023). Cyberbullying and Adolescent Suicide. The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law51(1), 112–119.

TIMESOFINDIA.COM. (2023, November 26). Ujjain teen dies by suicide; was bullied online for wearing makeup. The Times of India. Retrieved from

Young, H., Campbell, M., Spears, B., Butler, D., Cross, D., & Slee, P. (2016). Cyberbullying and the role of the law in Australian schools: Views of senior officials. Australian Journal of Education60(1), 86–101.

Grammar checking tools use declaration: In composing this work, I used Grammarly tools to check my grammar structure and spelling in this article. 

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