Talking to your kids about online exclusion and being a bystander


With bullying still so much top of mind, it is an important time to talk to our t/weens about more subtle types of bullying, where being a bystander (and an upstander) has an equally important role, particularly ONLINE EXCLUSION.

ONLINE EXCLUSION refers to situations when our tw/eens are kicked off a group or blocked permanently, repeatedly excluded from online invitations or even just left out of a chat group or intentionally not tagged in photos where everyone else is tagged.

We see this being played out all the time, particularly on a primary school level. It is safe to assume that most kids feel a level of fear around this – social exclusion is a brutal act and our teens are all too alive to the possibility.

Remember, as always, to keep the conversation light, curious and non-judgmental. Really listen without being alarmed (even if you are dying inside!) Your t/ween will shut you down immediately if you aren’t open to just hearing.

Having these conversations before an incident occurs to your child personally, makes it much easier for them to come to you when and if it does. They will say ‘remember I told you about ‘Pete’ well now he did it to me. It becomes an easy way for your child to report an incident without feeling ashamed.

Here are some useful conversation starters


  1. I’ve heard that a lot of bullying happens online by excluding others / blocking etc. – does this happen a lot in your school?
  2. How often in a week do you see others getting blocked or excluded?
  3. Why do you think this happens?
  4. Why would you or a close friend be excluded from a chat/event/party?
  5. In which of your groups would you feel most comfortable/ least secure to stand up for yourself/ someone else?
  6. If you could wave a magic wand for one day, what would you love to do/say/post online in one of your group chats that you have never done before?
  7. What stops you from doing it?

We will be sharing more content on what to do if it emerges that your child is the victim of online bullying, but if, through these conversations your child imparts that for the most part your child is a BYSTANDER, relay that you have only two expectations of them in situations like this:

  1. Step up for the person with basic words like “it’s not cool” or “no dude; or
  2. Exit the group when things like this happen so that they are not part of it.

Stay connected
Sarah and Pam

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