Online Disinhibition/ Cyberbullying

What is disinhibition and how can it cause cyberbullying?

Spring 2021 Digital Citizenship Newsletter

Middle/High Edition


Cyberbullying is using digital devices, sites, and apps to intimidate, harm, and upset someone. We're going to start by watching a news story about someone who was recently cyberbullied.
'Stranger Things' star leaves Twitter after cyberbullying

Things to think about ...

  • What is your reaction to this story?
  • The news anchors made a point to emphasize that Millie is only 14. Why do you think they did that? Would this be not as big a deal if she were older?
  • Do you think the people who posted these mean messages would say them to her in person? Do people act differently when they're online?

Online Disinhibition

It's true that people sometimes act differently -- or even meaner -- when they're posting or sharing something online. And there's a reason why.

There is a phenomenon called the online disinhibition effect that makes it easier for us to say things online we probably wouldn't say to someone face-to-face. This can be bad (looking at you trolls!), but it can have some surprisingly good effects too. What do you think, is the Internet making us mean?

Is the Internet Making You Meaner?

Things to think about ...

Although online disinhibition can sometimes lead to positive outcomes, it can often cause people to make hostile or mean comments. These comments can cause toxic drama and can even lead to cyberbullying. To counter this effect, we can pause before we post and think about how online disinhibition -- anonymity, lag time, and lack of nonverbal cues -- might be impacting our ideas and words. Consider the table below to analyze how online disinhibition might be countered.
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As we see, there are many reasons for feeling disinhibition online. And there are many different outcomes -- both positive and negative -- that can result from us feeling this effect.
Credit: Online Disinhibition and Cyberbullying | Common Sense Education

Teachers, please visit the site above for the full lesson with lesson resources.

For more information about Cyberbullying, check out What is Cyberbullying? | How to Prevent Cyber Bullying? (

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