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Weekly Doses of Pop-up Psych

We all make cringey mistakes and deserve to move on, rather than feel confused or regretful after an icky social situation. Each week, I will dissect a murky social, life cycle, or pop culture topic to help you understand, learn, and move on. As a former academic, I am a super-picky consumer of research (and you should be too) as well as the content I create and share, so those new solutions, data and/or additional resources have certainly met my approval.

Preventing Cyberbullying: Tips to Promote Good Digital Citizenship

How often do you see this? People trying to validate others via social media. For instance, someone who is new in town is looking for a dog walker. They receive a recommendation for Pat, who has a dog walking business through word-of-mouth. They want additional feedback so they post a question on the community Facebook page, “can anyone give me feedback about Pat the dog walker?” An hour later, a slew of comments emerge about Pat that run the gamut-from negative to positive, including personal information about her, “she was reliable until her daughter had behavioral issues” or “she is better since her accident”. It’s not like Pat solicited the feedback. What seems like an innocent act of crowdsourcing, has emerged into a textbook example of cyberbullying. 

Photo 133406104 © Stevanovicigor |

Cyberbullying occurs through sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else through social media, chatrooms, blogs, books, talk shows, and other forms of digital platforms. It includes sharing personal or private information causing embarrassment or humiliation. Cyberbullying has increased through the years and is related to low self-esteem. Here are the subtle and not-so subtle ways that show up as cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying shows up through the exclusive photo.


This is the digital version of purposely leaving out someone by editing them from a photo or not including them all together.

Cyberbullying shows up through aggressive liking.


Digital ridicule comes in many forms. The target receives excessive likes from people as a form of mockery, rather than support.

Cyberbullying shows up through catfishing (also known as imping and false impersonation).


This is the creation and use of a fake online identity to deceive people.

Photo 29404939 © Carsten Moeller Thomsen |

Cyberbullying shows up through trolling.


Digital troublemakers and cheerleaders who will randomly post controversial comments or information to provoke a negative reaction, like causing an argument.

Cyberbullying shows up through happy slapping.


This is comparable to having people hang flyers about someone all over campus or their community. It is posting or publishing embarrassing photos or videos to damage someone’s reputation.

Cyberbullying shows up through cyberstalking.


This is the digital version of harassment by publicly making accusations, threatening, blackmailing, slandering, embarrassing, vandalizing, as well as stealing someone’s identity.

Cyberbullying shows up through doxxing.


This looks like an invasion of someone’s privacy through posting personal information about them online. When people call out other people, they typically share information that’s not meant to be public.


Cyberbullying shows up through exclusive threads, pages, platforms, chatrooms, and blogs. 


These are usually done behind the Target’s back to exclude, ridicule, shame, share negative comments, as well as spread gossip and rumors. 


Think before you post


In the publishing world, there is always a confirmation message before you hit send/post/publish. For instance, my articles for Psychology Today Blog, Research Notes: Exploring Icky Situations, are posted through a submission portal. I don’t open the portal until I am 100% happy with the blog. When the blog in the portal with all the appropriate info has been included, it’s time to hit “publish”. Then, a message comes up, “are you sure you are ready to publish?” That always makes me proofread at least twice.  Why doesn’t that happen before info is put out there on social media, chat rooms, and all the other digital platforms?

Photo 4846173 | Hollywood © Dan Breckwoldt |

For anyone passing by, content ending up on the Hollywood Sign is the equivalent of going viral. Here is a little checklist to ensure good digital citizenship and device intelligence.


  • What is my personal gain by trying to put out content about other people?

  • How would I feel if I were in his/her/their shoes?

  • How likely am I to initiate a private and direct resolution without an audience?

  • How much am I doing this for attention?

  • How likely is it that I am doing this because of my own unresolved wounds and issues?

  • How prepared am I for any anticipated backlash for my post, such as tarnishing my own personal or professional reputation?

  • How much will my actions impact my family, friends, and anyone associated with me?

  • What if someone self-harmed or attempted suicide because of something I initiated?

  • How likely will I want to make the same post tomorrow?

Hi, Beautiful Readers and thank you for reading this! I'm Dr. Joanne Broder, Media Psychologist, Author, and Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Please consider me to help you write your memoir, blogs, speeches, e-books, as well as coach you on your dissertation or thesis.  Click here so we can connect!

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