Cyberbullying: Direct VS. Proximity – What’s the Difference?

Written By: Ryan Smith, Megan Meier Foundation Intern

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Cyberbullying is defined as “the use of the internet and related technologies to harm other people in a deliberate, repeated, or hostile manner.”

Although helpful, this definition does not shed light on specific tactics or examples that an individual engaging in cyberbully activity might partake in.

The purpose of this particular blog post is to inform our audience of different ways cyberbullying harassment can occur and in the process, hopefully help educate and raise awareness on the topic as a whole.

Below are two ways that cyberbullying attacks can be categorized as. The most important thing to take away from this is that cyberbullying is much more complex than the typical person may assume, but by continuing to learn about the issue, we can help identify and put an end to such cases sooner.


 Direct messages that are sent from one individual (the bully) to another (the victim) is what we would consider a direct attack. The majority of cyberbullying cases fall into this category.

Examples of direct attack cyberbullying include:

  • Picture sending (email and cell phones)
  • Instant messaging/text messaging harassment
  • Stealing “hacking” passwords
  • Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Myspace/Blogs
  • Interactive gaming (Xbox Live or PlayStation Network)



When the bully has assistance from others to target the victim, we have what is known as “cyberbullying by proxy.” This type of cyberbullying becomes much more dangerous because there are multiple bullies and often times adults become involved as well.

Examples of cyberbullying by proxy include:

  • Cyberbully poses as the victim (the victim becomes the bully)
  • Hacking someone’s account and making up lies to destroy their image
  • Bully posts personal information about the victim’s life they may not want anyone on the internet to know (such as their home address)
  • Bully creates a hate group against the victim

Although direct attack cyberbullying is more common and easier to identity, cyberbullying by proxy is becoming more evident in today’s society. It is important for both children and their parents to be aware of the differences between the two and the warning signs they can pick up on to take action immediately.


You can help end the fight against bullying. Join the conversation using the hashtag #StopBullying and #BeTheChange


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