Behind the Keyboard: Cyberbullies and How It Can Affect Students with Dyslexia


In today’s era of digital technology and social media, the internet has become an integral part of our lives. Though it has brought numerous benefits, it has also contributed to troubling phenomenon for example, cyberbullying. Unlike traditional bullying that typically occurs in person, cyberbullying occurs in the virtual world, making it a pervasive and insidious concern. Nevertheless, both types of bullying have worrying consequences, highlighting the significance of addressing and preventing them in today’s interconnected world.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of digital communication tools, such as social media, text messages, emails or online forums to harass, threaten or intimidate others. This is a prevalent problem in schools as the anonymity and distance provided by the internet can embolden bullies which in turn facilitates them to target their peers. It can take many forms such as harassment, impersonation, doxing, exclusion, trolling and others. 


Why do bullies bully?

Bullies often engage in malicious conduct due to a desire for power, low self-esteem, peer pressure and a lack of empathy. Moreover, family influences, modelling, a need for attention or unresolved mental health issues could also play a part. Bullying is a multi-faceted behaviour that often results from a combination of personal, social and environmental factors. However, none of these factors justify or excuse bullying. 

How does Cyberbully impact an individual?

The impact of cyberbullying can be distressing, both mentally and emotionally. Victims of cyberbullying often experience emotional distress which can lead to anxiety, depression as well as low self-esteem. Cyberbullying can also disrupt one’s ability to concentrate, leading to poor academic or professional performance. In addition, victims of cyberbullying may withdraw from social activities and relationships often feeling humiliated or unsafe. Furthermore, the stress of cyberbullying can manifest in physical health problems for instance, headaches, sleep disturbances, and/or even self-harm. Similarly, perpetrators of cyberbullying may face serious consequences which includes legal action, school discipline or damaged personal relationships.

How does Cyberbully impact Students with Dyslexia?


Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects an individual’s ability to read, write and spell accurately. It is not related to intelligence and individuals with dyslexia often have above-average intelligence in other areas. Dyslexia can lead to difficulties in processing written information and this impact one’s self-esteem and confidence which makes individuals with dyslexia much more vulnerable to cyberbullying.


Cyberbullies can have a profoundly detrimental effect on students with dyslexia. These students are already facing unique challenges in the current academic settings and cyberbullying aggravates their struggles even more.

To begin with, cyberbullying can erode their self-esteem. Students with dyslexia often grapple with feelings of inadequacy and online taunts simply reinforce these negative perceptions. This can lead to depression and which could hinder their academic progress.

Additionally, cyberbullying can disrupt their learning environment. Students with dyslexia require supportive and pleasant environment to succeed, but online harassment could create a hostile online atmosphere, making it arduous for them to concentrate and engage in learning. This could also affect their mental health. These students are already vulnerable to mental health issues and cyberbullying can intensify feelings of isolation and frustration, potentially leading to severe emotional distress. 


An anecdote of a student with dyslexia cyberbullying real-life experience 

“One afternoon when I reached home after school, I received a text on my hand phone in the class group chat. Some classmates of mine whom I do not mingle much with, continuously kept correcting my spelling. I was talking to my friend and I thought he was just being nice to me and correcting it for me. However, after a few occasions it has reached to the point where it personally annoyed me as he would not stop correcting me. I confronted them about it and kindly asked them to stop. They sneered and mocked that I should learn to spell properly instead. When I read this, it made me upset hence I decided to explain to them that I could not spell properly as I have dyslexia in hope that they would understand. Instead of showing empathy, they were not bothered and threatened me with options to stop talking or learn how to spell. When I read that comment, I felt mix of emotions like anger, sadness and embarrassment as it affected my self-esteem. I did not want to trouble anyone, hence I kept quiet about it.”


Schools and Parents as Advocates to Combat Cyberbullies

It is vital for schools and parents to work together in combating cyberbullying effectively. This could be done by forming a safer online environment through education, awareness and strong anti-cyberbullying measures. It is only through these collective efforts that cyberbullying could be curb thus protecting the mental and emotional health of students who use the internet.


Schools and parents should educate children regarding the consequences of cyberbullying as well as promoting responsible online behaviour. Having an open communication is important. This is to encourage victims to speak up and report incidents of cyberbullying to trusted adults or authorities. Apart from that, teaching young people how to protect their online privacy and security, including setting strong passwords and understanding privacy settings on social media platforms. Schools and online platforms should implement and enforce strict anti-cyberbullying policies. Support systems should also be in place so as to offer emotional support and counselling to victims including intervention programs for bullies to address the root causes of their behaviour.



In a nutshell, cyberbullying is an escalating issue in today’s modern digital age which can affect any individual of all ages. The consequences can be severe, with lasting impacts on the mental, emotional and physical well-being of victims. The impact of cyberbullies on students with dyslexia is profound and concerning too. Educators and parents must work together to provide support, guidance and create a safe online environment to protect these vulnerable individuals from the harmful effects of cyberbully. By taking proactive measures and creating awareness to address the issue of cyberbullying, students with dyslexia can be protected and ensure that they have a safe and supportive learning environment both online as well as offline.

Written by:
Zaidah M J
Senior Educational Therapist
RETA Associate Fellow

Article published on 8 Dec 2023