Blog about Proactive Parenting

Find the resources and advice you need, based on current research and best practices, to feel confident and in control caring for your family.

Who’s bullying my child? They may be suffering self-cyberbullying


There is a disturbing new trend among children and teens related to cyberbullying. New research is showing that some children and teens are cyberbullying themselves. The ability to open multiple social media and communication (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, email, text, online gaming forums, etc.) accounts allows children to bully themselves online.

Is your child suffering from cyberbullying? Learn what you need to know about self-cyberbullying

This trend is called self-cyberbullying or digital self-harm. Self-cyberbullying or digital self-harm is defined as posting, sending or sharing hurtful content about oneself anonymously online. Like other forms of self-harm, self-cyberbullying is worrisome because it may indicate a risk of suicide later on.

The most recent study surveyed children and teens between the ages of 12-17 years. Of the children surveyed, 6 percent reported engaging in the practice of self-cyberbullying. Slightly more boys engaged in this practice than girls. And the risk for engaging in this behavior was associated with children and teens that had previously been bullied by others in real life or online.

Since children are bullying themselves, they can selectively choose content that is very personal or hurtful to create a dramatic impact. They can use this practice as a way to draw attention to issues they are dealing with privately, such as depression or anxiety. They may also use this form of self-harm to seek support from family or friends about issues that they have trouble discussing openly, such as being gay or transsexual. Or they may use digital self-harm to release pent up frustrations that are common during pre-adolescence and adolescence related to the complex and extensive developmental changes occurring during this period of growth.

Learn how you can detect and understand why your child may be self-cyberbullying

Children and teens that practice self-cyberbullying shared various reasons for engaging in this behavior. For some, self-cyberbullying was a way to express their self-hate. These children often had a history of self-harm in real life such as cutting, scratching, or hitting themselves. Digital self-harm was another way to make their inner pain become real.

Other children expressed they felt depressed or suicidal as the reason for engaging in self-cyberbullying. These teens felt alone and isolated and the act of self-cyberbullying was a way to express their feelings and needs.

Some children reported self-cyberbullying so they appeared to be victims to justify cyberbullying others. They used this practice to draw attention away from their own bullying activities towards others.

And, other children and teens reported wanting attention, trying to be funny, or simply being bored.

Regardless of the reason for engaging in digital self-harm, it is important that parents are aware that this practice occurs. Teaching children and teens that they have parents who are open and willing to listen to their concerns, doubts, and feelings can help children feel more secure addressing their needs in real life rather than using this negative online activity.

Self-harming activities are generally associated with feeling powerless or having a lack of control in certain environments or situations. Empowering children and teens to reach out to adults to find real solutions may help reduce their desire to act out in self-harming ways in online environments. More importantly, teaching children to reach out to adults may help them find better, more appropriate solutions to the issues that are driving them towards self-cyberbullying.

Finally, no matter what age or situation, parents should monitor their children’s online activities and teach their children to be respectful and use shame-free communication in online environments.

How are you empowering your children and teens to reach out to adults to find real solutions to help reduce their desire to act out in self-harming ways in online environments? Share your advice here below:


  • Patchin, J.W. & Hinduia, S. (2017). Digital self-harm among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent health, 61(6), pp, 761-766. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.06.012
  • Doyle, L. (2018). Attitudes toward adolescent self-harm and its prevention: The views of those who self-harm and their peers. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, (Epub ahead of print). doi: 10.1111/jcap.12186


© 2018 Deanna Marie Mason

Related Posts



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Captcha Image

FREE Monthly Advice

subscribe and participate


I agree with the Privacy Policy and the + INFO

Article Search

Contact Information

Dr. Deanna Marie Mason

Calle Téllez, 26, 28007 Madrid
T. +34 912 192 862

Payment Methods

Paypal allows you to pay directly with your credit card. You can also pay directly with your card through our secure BBVA payment portal.

logo paypal tarjetas

medios pago

Want to predict the future of your children?

Subscribe here to learn how to guide them and prevent the most common behavioural problems. And, you’ll receive my E-book full of helpful advice for FREE!

E Book EN Banner

I agree with the Privacy Policy and the + INFO