Cyberbullying rife among young people according to new research

New research from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation has found one in three young people have experienced someone spreading a rumour (33%) or posting mean or hurtful comments (35%) about them online.

The research, released today to coincide with National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, also finds one in two young people had been cyberbullied throughout their life (51%), an alarming rate that sadly remains unchanged since 2018. A further one in four experienced someone threatening to hurt them online (24%).

As a result of these concerning new findings, headspace will today launch a new “bullying isn’t banter” campaign aimed at creating safer online experiences for all young people.

Jason Trethowan, CEO of headspace said, “It is really worrying that the numbers of reported cyberbullying experiences in young people remain so high as the impacts of bullying and cyberbullying can be significant and long lasting. We can see from the research that things aren’t getting better in this space and now is the time to do more.

“Throughout the next month “bullying isn’t banter” will see us encouraging young people and their family and friends to help create a safer online experience for all young people, and help turn the tide on these statistics to make real change.

“At headspace we’re inviting young people to participate in an online cyberbullying group chat and encouraging them and their families and friends to visit our website to discover real actionable steps we can all take to protect our loved ones, and create a safer online community.”

Nick Duigan, Head of Clinical Leadership said the research highlights an alarming trend in online behaviour among young people.

“Research is telling us one in two young people have experienced cyberbullying. We know that being bullied is associated with an increased risk of experiencing anxiety, depression and selfharming behaviours. This is really concerning, but also presents us with an opportunity to help create change.

“Young people are going to interact online. The way this happens is going to continue to change rapidly and unpredictably. Young people rely on family and friends to role model appropriate online behaviour, and help them to build their skills in handling these challenges. So, we’re strongly encouraging young people, parents and carers to get informed, to start a conversation, and take some steps to make their experiences online safer. Visit the headspace website to learn more.”

headspace tips for parents to create a safer online experience include:

  1. Get informed. Read up on the headspace website about warning signs to look out for, and how to start a conversation.
  2. Talk with your young person about their experiences online regularly. This can include questions about the sites they use, what they enjoy, and when it’s helpful or harmful. Try to understand the language used and understand their experience. This can help them know you’re a safe place to go to for support if required.
  3. Take experiences of cyberbullying seriously. Listen to their concerns, and support them to take action. This might involve; reporting the incident to the platform, collecting evidence, seeking additional support from the eSafety Commissioner, involving the school or workplace, regularly checking in, supporting some screen free time, and helping them to do things in life that support their wellbeing.
  4. Learn about the available technology. Many platforms have built in additional features to support people to feel safe online. Understand how these can be used and support your young person to use them.
  5. Keep the conversation open. Regularly checking in about their experiences can help to take action earlier.

headspace is hosting a cyberbullying online group chat on Sunday 4 April at 7pm AEDT for young people. Register here.  

More resources and information on bullying isn’t banter.

For media enquiries please contact headspace Media & Communications: or 0413 025 385