Cyberbullying: the challenge to define

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2012 Jun;15(6):285-9. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0588.


Cyberbullying is a reality of the digital age. To address this phenomenon, it becomes imperative to understand exactly what cyberbullying is. Thus, establishing a workable and theoretically sound definition is essential. This article contributes to the existing literature in relation to the definition of cyberbullying. The specific elements of repetition, power imbalance, intention, and aggression, regarded as essential criteria of traditional face-to-face bullying, are considered in the cyber context. It is posited that the core bullying elements retain their importance and applicability in relation to cyberbullying. The element of repetition is in need of redefining, given the public nature of material in the online environment. In this article, a clear distinction between direct and indirect cyberbullying is made and a model definition of cyberbullying is offered. Overall, the analysis provided lends insight into how the essential bullying elements have evolved and should apply in our parallel cyber universe.

MeSH terms

  • Bullying*
  • Crime Victims
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Peer Group*
  • Terminology as Topic*