Cyberbullying: Practical Prevention

Cover image for a blog titled Cyberbullying: Practical Prevention by Adam Parlett for Bora Designs

Cyberbullying is an umbrella term for different types of bullying behavior using digital technologies that take place online. The increased utilization of technology among children and adults has resulted in bullying behaviors moving online. It is important to emphasize that both children and adults can be victims of cyberbullying, as cyberbullying is not exclusive to a particular demographic.

What makes cyberbullying even more dangerous than “traditional” bullying (verbal or physical) is the pervasiveness of digital devices. Cyberbullying acts can be quickly recorded, reproduced, and replayed by countless individuals, making the impact even more severe. As the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds blur, bullying is increasingly intersecting across both worlds, increasing the emotional and psychological effects on the victim. For example, traditional bullying can begin at school with verbal taunts, continue and escalate away from school on social media or online gaming platforms, and then manifest as physical violence back in school or out on the playground.

It is, therefore, essential to familiarize yourself with some practical ways to keep yourself or your children safe from cyberbullying when gaming online or using social media.

Online Gaming

Popular video game franchises such as Fortnite, EA Sports FC, and Call of Duty are popular with adults and children alike (despite the latter being classified as only suitable for those over 18). A key element in all these titles is communication, with players enjoying communicating with their friends and, sometimes, their opponents. Unfortunately, chats can often turn toxic due to the competitive nature of the games, as well as other factors, such as perceived negative in-game tactics or behaviors.

Although these games are available across multiple devices, almost all have the option to customize your chat settings. By turning off the ‘voice chat’ feature and allowing ‘party chat’ (a feature that can be further customized), players can speak to trusted individuals already on their ‘friends list’ while removing the possibility for strangers to try and communicate with them.

Let’s examine each game in turn and see what options you have to prevent cyberbullying in each.

  • Fortnite

Fortnite is a free-to-play title from Epic Games that is available across multiple devices. The game is rated PEGI 12 as, although it has ‘cartoon-style’ visuals, there are elements of violence, with the objective being to ‘kill’ your enemies and emerge victorious. It is an immensely popular game, averaging around 230 million monthly players between January and February 2024. The game offers a range of parental controls to enable parents to keep the younger player safe whilst gaming online.

  • EA Sports FC

EA Sports FC (which emerged from the ‘FIFA’ Soccer game series after a split between partners) is another very popular game that was, in fact, the U.K’s best-selling game in 2023. To help combat the threat of cyberbullying, EA Sports has a very informative and helpful EA Help section on their website, which details how to report players for cheating, abuse, or harassment in their games.

  • Call of Duty

Call of Duty has a Code of Conduct that it regularly updates as part of an ongoing campaign against ‘toxicity and disruptive behavior.’ In conjunction with this, they have a voice moderation system that can identify particular abusive language and mute the player involved. Specific details regarding chat functionality on Call of Duty and how to turn off public voice communications can be found here.

Social Media

With 4.8 billion social media users worldwide, it is hard to underestimate the popularity of social media networks. While they are an excellent communication tool, they are also a platform where cyberbullying can thrive. At the time of writing, the top five most popular social networks worldwide are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, and TikTok. There are some steps you can take to stay safe on each of these platforms.

  • Facebook

Use Facebook’s Privacy Checkup feature to review your privacy and security settings and be in control of who you share things with. The Privacy Checkup feature allows you to adjust who can see what you share in future and past posts and information like your phone number, email address, and date of birth.

  • YouTube

For younger users for whom you have parental responsibilities, you have the ability to turn on restricted mode. YouTube’s restricted mode can help filter out mature content that poses potential harm to your child.

  • Instagram

Instagram has a very useful Help Centre that contains two important sections relating to cyberbullying; ‘Staying Safe’ and ‘Privacy, Security and Reporting.’ The former section houses a form where you can report bullying and harassment you discover happening or experience yourself. It also offers practical advice on dealing with conflict or abuse onthe platform. It provides links to online resources such as that can provide support if you are experiencing cyberbullying. The later section details how you can set your account to private and explains that when you block someone, you can block other accounts that the individual bullying you may create.

  • WhatsApp

Meta Inc., the company that owns Facebook, also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, so the WhatsApp Help Center contains similar features to Facebook and Instagram. You can block certain contacts from receiving WhatsApp messages, calls, and status updates when using the platform. There is also an option to report problematic content.

  • TikTok

TikTok’s website has a very useful section entitled Bullying Prevention that provides a definition of bullying, tips for identifying bullying behavior, and helpful resources. This section also details practical ways to stay safe when using the platform.

It’s Good to Talk

Cyberbullying can be just as upsetting as in-person bullying and is never ok. The first step, if you have found this article and are experiencing cyberbullying, is always to talk to someone you trust about what is happening. The next step would be to implement the preventative measures outlined above. Reporting bullying incidents is also crucial, even if you are a bystander. Only if everyone starts reporting bullying and bullies can we stop this menace.

If you are not currently experiencing cyberbullying, hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical steps that you can start implementing immediately to help keep yourself or any dependents you are responsible for safe from cyberbullying online. Online gaming and social media can and should be fun, safe, and positive environments for all users. Unfortunately, as we know, this isn’t always the case, and we should remain vigilant and stay protected as best we can.

If you found this article about cyberbullying interesting and informative, please check out a related blog: Lessons from Cybersecurity Awareness Activities at Greek Schools.

Cyberbullying: Practical Prevention
Scroll to top