U1: Defining cyberbulling









Self-awareness, Social awareness


Ages 11-13, Ages 14-18


Timing: 35 minutes

Learning outcomes: learners will be able to…

  • Identify the key characteristics of cyberbullying behaviour.
  • Contribute to a class/group agreed definition of cyberbullying.

Key vocabulary: cyberbullying, bullying, threaten, target, repeated, purposeful, harassment, discrimination, stereotypes, well-being, hate speech, human rights, illegal.

Resources: Google Slides, sticky notes or large sheets of paper, pens.

Key questions:

  • What do you think cyberbullying is?
  • How can cyberbullying occur and who is involved?
  • How can cyberbullying make someone feel?
  • Is something still cyberbullying if the person targeted isn’t affected?
  • What are the key features of cyberbullying?
  • How would you define cyberbullying?

Download the activity’s PowerPoint presentation

Starter activity (10 minutes)

Inside the mind of a bully

Explain to young people that this session is about exploring what cyberbullying is creating an agreed definition.

Group the young people into small groups of 3-4. Provide each group with sticky notes, a large sheet of paper, and pens. Ask young people to imagine that they are a bully and to consider every way possible that they could use technology to bully someone. 

In the middle of their paper, they should write the question, ‘How can someone be cyberbullied?’ and then write down as many ways as they can think of onto the sticky notes and place them on the paper. Encourage young people to be as creative as possible in the ways that technology could be used to bully someone.

After five minutes, ask groups to share some of their ideas. Some groups may have found this challenging – it is not natural to spend time thinking about how to make someone else feel bad! Slide 7 provides a list of some possible ways – did they think of these, or of any that haven’t been listed? Ask young people how someone might feel to be targeted by the behaviours they have listed.

Explain that cyberbullying can happen in many different ways and can be very different for each person targeted depending on the context and other people who are involved. While considering lots of different ways to cyberbully is not a comfortable exercise, it is important in order to help be aware of the many ways it can occur in order to develop strategies to prevent and respond to it in ways that help anyone targeted by this kind of behaviour.

If you have time and wish to extend young people’s thinking, ask them to rank the different cyberbullying methods in different ways e.g. most common to least common (in their experience), and most harmful to least harmful.

Activity (15 minutes)
Do we agree?

Using slide 8, show young people the findings from the KID ACTIONS desk-based research on what cyberbully is and how it can occur.

Explain that there is no commonly agreed definition of cyberbullying, but there are a number of things that most experts agree happen in cyberbullying behaviour. Ask young people if they agree with these factors – e.g. do they think that behaviour online needs to be repeated in order to be cyberbullying, or can ‘one-off’ situations also constitute cyberbullying? How would they distinguish between bullying behaviour from someone known to the target, as opposed to bullying behaviour from a stranger online?

As a whole group, work together to try to create a shared definition of what cyberbullying is. You may wish to record this on a large whiteboard and invite young people to come up and amend/change the definition based on their thoughts. Continue until there is a general agreement across the group. You may wish to steer young people towards creating a broad definition so that it can encompass a wide variety of behaviours.

Ask young people to look again at the definition they wrote down at the start of the session – does it still make sense to them, or is the group’s shared definition more helpful?

Plenary (10 minutes)

Remind young people that their agreed definition will be referred to in order to guide future learning around cyberbullying.

Ask them for creative ways that they could help themselves remember the agreed definition for future sessions. They might wish to create a poster or card, or create some form of online content such as a graphic, meme, voice note or other method.

These methods can also be used to help share the definition with the community to raise awareness of cyberbullying.