Difference Between Bullying and Cyber Bullying

Nov 20, 2023
Difference Between Bullying and Cyber Bullying

Bullying and Cyber Bullying refer to similar actions; however, their definitions differ. Bullying involves intimidating another individual using power or authority – this includes verbal and physical abuse in various contexts and degrees. Cyberbullying differs by taking place primarily online with young people being targeted as its targets; due to this difference there can often be significant changes when engaging in online harassment; therefore this article attempts to clarify this distinction further by outlining these terms.

Definition of bullying


Bullying can be defined as the repeated, aggressive or malicious behaviors performed by individuals with perceived power imbalance or who occupy positions of authority over another. Bullying occurs when these individuals use this power for harmful or intimidating acts on another, verbally or physically; victims typically feel powerless to defend themselves when faced with bullying tactics causing fear, distress or harm to themselves and/or their community members; this form of mistreatment often takes the form of physical assaults, verbal abuse, social exclusion or harassment online – to name only some forms.

Definition of cyberbullying

Cyber Bullying
Cyber Bullying

Cyberbullying refers to the repeated and persistent use of digital technology such as social media platforms, mobile devices, and the internet to intimidate or harass an individual in some form of conduct that threatens them directly or indirectly. Cyberbullies make use of electronic communications in their efforts to victimize others or target specific individuals for harm. Cyberbullying takes many forms. This may involve sending offensive or threatening texts or posting offensive images online; spreading rumors or gossip; sharing private or embarrassing information without consent without getting consent; impersonating another individual and more. Cyberbullying differs from traditional bullying because it occurs online allowing anonymity and an increased audience; its severity has led to emotional distress, social exclusion and academic difficulties, and sometimes suicidal thoughts and self-harm in extreme instances.

Importance of understanding the difference Beteween Bullying and Cyber Bullying

For many reasons, it’s essential that we understand the difference between cyberbullying and bullying.

  1. Identification: Understanding the differences between cyberbullying and bullying allows individuals to accurately recognize its behaviors and tactics used. They can then take necessary steps when they detect that someone else is being bullied.
  2. Awareness and Education: Teaching people the differences between cyberbullying and bullying increases awareness about these issues, promotes empathy, fosters responsible digital citizenship practices, and provides individuals with skills necessary for recognizing, responding to, and preventing any future acts of cyberbullying or bullying.
  3. Support and Assistance: Victims of bullying or cyberbullying require adequate assistance, guidance, and resources tailored specifically for the challenges faced by both themselves and their loved ones. Establishing communication channels between educators, parents, and mental health providers can offer invaluable help and provide crucial assistance based on understanding differences among victims of all forms of harassment or assault and their family members can play an instrumental role.
  4. Legal and policy considerations: Laws and policies surrounding cyberbullying and bullying differ depending on your jurisdiction, making understanding their differences essential for lawmakers, policymakers, and legal professionals who wish to develop regulations that effectively tackle both forms of harassment.
  5. Establish a Safe Environment: A number of strategies must be employed in order to establish an inclusive, respectful, and safe environment online and offline. Recognizing cyberbullying from traditional bullying allows schools, organizations, and online platforms to put into place measures that will address and combat it accordingly, thus contributing towards building positive environments where everyone feels welcomed and safe.

Acknowledging and distinguishing between cyberbullying and bullying are integral parts of raising awareness, prevention, support, intervention, and ultimately creating a safer, inclusive environment both online and off.

Characteristics of Bullying

The hallmark characteristics of bullying differentiate it from other forms of aggression.

These features may include:

  • Bullying often includes physical aggression or intimidation in the form of kicks, hits, pushes, or damaging property. Bullying may also take other forms including aggressive gestures and posturing.
  • Verbal abuse, name-calling, and insults are common forms of verbal bullying, with bullies using derogatory language to humiliate their targets. Verbal bullying may involve name-calling or mocking comments regarding someone’s looks, abilities, or personal characteristics which often culminates in name-calling or hurtful remarks directed toward its targets.
  • Bullying typically manifests itself through repeated incidents. Bullying should not be understood as one-off incidents but as persistent and sustained forms of aggression aimed towards one or more specific persons or groups.
  • Bullying Is Characterized by an Imbalance of Power, Bullying can be defined by an imbalance of powers between itself and its victim, whereby the bully exerts dominance or control over them through physical strength, social standing, popularity, or perceived authority. The power imbalance manifests itself in various ways such as physical strength or social standing or popularity as evidenced in its behavior towards them.
  • Interactions In-Person, Bullying typically takes place face-to-face at schools, workplaces, or neighborhoods and often in full view of others either actively participating or passively watching it occur. Though these characteristics provide a general framework, their intensity and manifestation may differ according to various forms of bullying behavior. Furthermore, each characteristic could be highlighted differently when applicable.

Forms of Bullying

Bullying takes many forms and takes advantage of individuals in many different ways.

  • Bullying comes in various forms and each form is distinguished by a specific method and strategy employed by its perpetrator. Here are a few commonly occurring forms of bullying. Physical bullying refers to any act which results in physical harm to another, such as hitting, punching, or kicking them; tripping, pushing them; or even spitting on their personal items and damaging/destroying them or their belongings.
  • Verbal bullying refers to using words or language against another to harm, humiliate or abuse them in some form; examples include name-calling and taunting as forms of verbal harassment. Relational Bullying (also referred to as social bullying) seeks to damage someone’s reputation or inclusion within a group by spreading malicious rumors, gossip, and lies about them; other strategies might include barring them from social events, manipulating friendships, or disrupting connections among peers.
  • Cyberbullying refers to any form of harassment conducted using technology and digital platforms, like instant messages, social media posts, emails, texts or online forums to harass, intimidate or harm another individual or entity. Cyberbullying includes sending abusive or threatening messages online; spreading false rumors online; sharing embarrassing pictures or videos publicly online without their permission or sharing; stalking; engaging in stalking activities online as well as participating in online harassment practices that take place virtually and online harassment activities against a target.
  • Sexual bullying occurs when unwanted sexual remarks, gestures, or actions are used to intimidate or humiliate their targets. Examples include harassment, inappropriate touching, and spreading sexual rumors on social media platforms as well as cyberbullying of this nature.
  • Prejudice-based bullying refers to any act or instance which targets individuals based on race/ethnicity/gender/sexuality/disability/religion and so forth, using derogatory words, hateful rhetoric, or treating individuals unfairly. Examples may include using derogatory names against someone, speaking hate speech against individuals, and treating individuals unfavorably.
  • Indirect bullying refers to less confrontational forms of aggression such as spreading malicious rumors, manipulating social situations, and isolating certain individuals from groups as well as undertaking covert acts to harm victims socially or emotionally – these all make up indirect bullying.

These forms of bullying may manifest themselves in various situations and do not always overlap; some individuals experience multiple forms of harassment at once, which may have severe health ramifications.

Bullying’s Impact

Bullying can have far-reaching and lifelong repercussions for its victims. Bullying may affect every area of an individual’s well-being and development in immediate and lasting ways – with serious effects being felt across various aspects of one’s life.

Here are some common side effects caused by bullying:

  1. Bullying can have profound psychological and emotional ramifications. Bullies may trigger anxiety, depression, low confidence levels, and feelings like worthlessness or helplessness for its targets; their victims can experience increased levels of fear, anger, and vulnerability that last long after the bullying has stopped and may lead to lasting mental health effects.
  2. Physical abuse can result in physical injuries and health complications for victims of assault and violence, including repeated acts of aggression such as assaults. Bullying incidents often leave their mark with bruises, cuts, or fractures while stress and anxiety often lead to stomachaches headaches sleep disorders as well as immune system dysfunction that negatively impacts health in many ways.
  3. Bullying has significant academic and social ramifications that can dramatically hinder its victims in school and relationships outside. Bullying may cause concentration to diminish due to fear and anxiety and result in lower grades, absences from class, or even refusals altogether. Bullying may also cause social isolation by straining relationships among peers as well as difficulty making new friendships.
  4. Bullying can damage victims’ self-esteem and confidence, prompting them to question their worth, abilities, and value as individuals – harming relationships, and goals pursuit, as well as creating an overall negative self-image for themselves and affecting healthy development in general.
  5. Bullying has lasting repercussions that can impact all areas of a person’s life in many ways, leaving emotional scars or increasing risk factors for mental illness such as depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic disorder (PTSD) later in life. Bullied individuals also frequently find it challenging to trust others or form intimate relationships or maintain secure employment due to bullying experiences.

As soon as an incident of bullying arises, immediate actions need to be taken in order to alleviate its negative impacts and promote healing. Implementing appropriate support systems and interventions as soon as possible as well as creating an inclusive and safe environment are effective approaches that can mitigate long-term impacts while encouraging healing processes. Early intervention with victims and support services is the key.

Characteristics of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying differs significantly from other forms of bullying; here are its hallmarks.

  1. Cyberbullying refers to forms of bullying using digital technologies and platforms, including instant messaging, social media sites like Facebook or Instagram; online forums; emails; text messages, or gaming environments as means to harm and target specific individuals. Cyberbullying employs electronic communication as a weapon against others.
  2. Cyberbullies often resort to using pseudonyms or anonymity to disguise themselves, creating difficulties when trying to hold them accountable and identify their targets. By creating fake identities or anonymous accounts they commit their bullying behavior anonymously – making identification harder yet allowing perpetrators to remain free.
  3. Cyberbullying leaves an irreparable digital trail. Unlike more traditional forms of bullying, its effect can linger even after being deleted; its messages still can be found online and make escape difficult for victims.
  4. Given the nature and speed of communication online, cyberbullying can reach wide audiences quickly. Insulting content or messages may be forwarded or reposted and shared widely – further exacerbating their potential harm and humiliating victims further still. Cyberbullying can occur at any time due to digital devices and platforms being readily accessible at all times. Cyberbullying may strike at any moment due to constant access.
  5. Cyberbullying manifests in numerous forms. Cyberbullying includes sending offensive or threatening texts online, spreading false or unverifiable information online, creating fake accounts in order to harass or impersonate another individual, engaging in online harassment or stalking actions, and altering personal photos and videos without consent without their permission or understanding their impact can help identify incidents of cyberbullying as well as implement appropriate prevention and intervention techniques. Understanding its characteristics will assist with identification and resolution efforts as well as appropriate intervention techniques.

Forms of Cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying is an all-encompassing crime that uses various digital means to harm and target individuals. Here are some common examples of cyberbullying.

  • Online Harassment and Abuse: Cyberbullying that employs online harassment involves sending offensive, derogatory or otherwise offensive texts repeatedly via various platforms like social media sites, messaging applications or email.
  • Cyberbullies may take several forms: Impersonating their victims or hacking into online accounts in order to post harmful material online and engage in illegal acts is another method used for cyberbullying.
  • Cyberbullying involving digital manipulation or photo/video editing: Victims can be humiliated or embarrassed through altering pictures or videos to cause embarrassment or harassment online, where this edited material could then be shared publicly, leading to public embarrassment or harassment.
  • Online stalking or tracking: Cyberstalkers can engage in persistent monitoring and tracking of their victim online, invading privacy and creating anxiety or distress for the individual being followed online, collecting personal data, or making unwanted advances towards them. They may follow them online, collect this data or attempt to gain personal gain via various tactics ranging from following them up online to making unwanted advances online or off.

Noting the wide array of forms cyberbullying takes is important in understanding it and responding appropriately. Knowing all its forms will enable individuals and communities to quickly recognize digital harassment and respond accordingly.

Impact of Cyberbullying  

Cyberbullying can have devastating results for its victims. Cyberbullying’s consequences range widely and include:

Emotional and Psychological Consequences of Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and depression; it may also have serious negative implications on a person’s mental health. Harassment, humiliation, and negative interactions online have an immense detrimental impact on self-esteem and confidence; victims can feel humiliated, ashamed, and isolated as a result.

Academic Repercussions: Cyberbullying interferes with victim concentration and focus, hindering academic success and leading to emotional distress that results in decreased performance at school, increased absenteeism, and disinterestedness – which in turn have long-term ramifications on educational outcomes and future prospects.

Cyberbullying can have serious physical ramifications: Through exposure to constant emotional strain, victims may develop headaches, sleep disorders, stomachaches or appetite changes that affect overall well-being and quality of life. These physical health concerns could ultimately detract from the overall well-being of an individual.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Ideation: Cyberbullying can increase the risk of self-harming and suicidal thoughts for victims who experience it, often becoming overwhelming and trapping them in feelings of hopelessness and victimhood. Take any signs of suicidal or self-harming thoughts seriously and provide immediate assistance as soon as you see any emerging signs.

Cyberbullying damages one’s online image and reputation: False allegations or demeaning content shared online, along with manipulating images or videos can have long-term ramifications that negatively affect personal relationships, employment prospects, and social standing – including relationships among family and friends as well as professional standing and potential promotion prospects.

Cyberbullying victims may experience digital overload and fear in online spaces. Being constantly harassed on the web may create anxiety that prevents accessing digital platforms altogether. Cyberbullying must be addressed immediately; victims need to receive support; a safe, inclusive online environment must be created; intervention strategies should promote digital literacy and responsible online behavior, instill empathy and foster mutual respect when digital interactions take place.

Comparison between Bullying and Cyberbullying  

Cyberbullying is an act of bullying that uses electronic media as a form of intimidation or harassment against another individual or group of people.


Cyberbullying and bullying share many similarities; both involve harming, intimidating or aggressor another individual in some form or fashion. Where they differ is in terms of the media used and the characteristics associated with each of them.

here is a comparison between cyberbullying and bullying:

Bullying typically occurs in physical settings like schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces and involves direct interactions between bully and victim.

Cyberbullying refers to any form of bullying conducted via digital technologies and platforms such as instant messaging, online forums, social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram, email, or any other digital platforms. Cyberbullies typically target victims through virtual environments without physically being present with them at all times – which makes cyberbullying particularly frightening as physical presence may not always be guaranteed in real-life circumstances.

Reach and Permanence Bullying  Bullying tends to occur within small circles and only becomes noticeable through direct observation by those present; its effects tend to be short-term and are eventually dissipated as time progresses.

Cyberbullying: Due to digital platforms’ vast reach, cyberbullying can reach more victims. Harmful messages or content could easily be shared or forwarded and have far-reaching effects; furthermore due to remaining online even after being deleted or removed from viewing by victims or authorities.

Anonymity, Distance, and Proximity

Bullying: In traditional bullying scenarios, the perpetrator usually knows and physically observes his/her victim. Usually, this relationship comes to bear as power dynamics or intimidation is manifest in real-life relationships and social hierarchies.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that allows its perpetrators to remain more anonymous, using fake identities or anonymous accounts in order to hide from being identified as perpetrators and victims alike. Physical distance can further distance both from each other allowing bullies more freedom of action when acting aggressively toward victims.

Documentation and Evidence

Bullying: While others may witness bullying occurring nearby, concrete proof may be difficult to come by; personal accounts and testimony could serve as sufficient proof.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying leaves an electronic trail as evidence, such as texts, photos or videos saved as evidence of abusive conduct. Keeping tabs on all these can easily identify issues surrounding bullying incidents.

Accessibility and Timing

Bullying: Bullying tends to occur at specific times or places, like school hours or in specific neighborhoods or communities.

Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying, also known as digital harassment or online abuse, occurs anytime and anywhere an individual accesses digital devices or the internet. Cyberbullying does not respect physical boundaries nor restrictions of time or space.

Understanding the distinctions between cyberbullying and traditional bullying is vital in order to develop effective prevention, intervention and support measures for both forms of aggression. Strategies must be designed specifically to tackle their unique characteristics while mitigating any detrimental impact they might have on communities or individuals.

Strategies for Prevention and Intervention  

As with cyberbullying and bullying in general, prevention and intervention strategies must work hand-in-hand for a successful resolution.

Here are a few tools designed to assist with either:

Education and Awareness:

  • Raise awareness about cyberbullying and bullying through workshops, educational programs, and campaigns. Students, parents, teachers as well as community members all should receive education on its signs and consequences.
  • The promotion of digital literacy and responsible behavior online will enable people to navigate the virtual space with integrity and security.

Establish Clear Policies and Reporting Mechanisms:

  • Maintain and implement comprehensive anti-bullying codes of conduct and policies at schools, workplaces and online platforms – being sure to address both bullying and cyberbullying in these documents.
  • Establish clear procedures and multiple reporting channels (with anonymous options available to both witnesses and victims) for reporting incidents of cyberbullying or bullying, to encourage witnesses and victims alike to come forward with allegations or experiences of it.

Create Safe and Inclusive Environments:

  • Promote an inclusive culture within your workplace or school that values diversity while respecting differences, encouraging empathy, kindness, and tolerance through anti-bullying programs, peer support initiatives, character development efforts, etc.
  • Promote and establish digital spaces and build supportive online communities that foster positive interactions and reduce cyberbullying.

Training and Skill-Building:

  • Provide educators, administrators, and staff with training and opportunities for professional development so that they may recognize and address bullying effectively. Training should encompass early intervention techniques, communication skills development, conflict resolution skills as well as positive relationship promotion strategies.
  • To avoid and combat bullying, equip students with social-emotional abilities such as empathy and self-regulation.

Collaboration and Partnerships:

  • Foster collaboration between schools, parents, community groups, and online platforms to prevent and address bullying and cyberbullying. Create comprehensive programs designed to stop it, share resources among members, and offer assistance and support for victims of this form of aggression.
  • Parents and guardians can help strengthen prevention efforts by offering resources, workshops, or guidance about how best to assist their child(ren) deal with bullying and cyberbullying.

Swift and Appropriate Responses:

  • All reports of cyberbullying or bullying must be taken seriously, with prompt, appropriate responses. Investigate each incident thoroughly, offering support and offering consequences when needed against perpetrators of this conduct.
  • Provide counseling, peer mediation, or restorative practices in order to foster understanding between all parties involved and foster empathy among them.

Continuous Evaluation and Monitoring:

  • Surveys, data analysis, and feedback from parents, students, and staff can all serve to continually measure and assess the efficacy and efficiency of prevention and intervention strategies, so as to optimize them against cyberbullying or bullying’s ever-evolving forms. With such information at our disposal, we can adjust strategies accordingly if their effectiveness becomes inadequate in combatting its development or evolves accordingly with its nature.
  • Communities can reduce bullying and cyberbullying through these prevention and intervention strategies, creating safer environments, providing support to victims, and building more positive relationships in their community.


Cyberbullying and bullying can be a stressful issues that could have serious consequences for the victims. If we can recognize the difference between these two types of harassment, and taking proactive steps to prevent and tackle these issues, we can ensure an easier and safer digital space for all.