Cyberbully

  • Review Date: July 17, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

Common Sense Media says

Emotional movie raises issues of online safety for teens.
  • Review Date: July 17, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie illustrates the dangers that can exist in digital life, including the relative ease with which bullies can target victims. Viewers see a teen struggle to overcome the emotional toll of being a victim; the movie offers coping mechanisms that translate to the real world. Peer pressure has real consequences when it leads a teen to go against her mom's advice, and there are empowering messages about self-confidence and standing up against bullying. Family and an unexpected group of peers become a source of strength for a teen.

Positive role models

A teen's mom is proactive in protecting her daughter's online safety, but teens view her as overbearing. Other parents turn a blind eye to their kids' involvement in bullying. A counselor offers teens reliable methods of coping when they're the victims of cyberbullying, which empowers them to stand up to the bullies. Some stereotyping surrounding the bullies (a mean-girl clique is at the heart of it) and victims (the pool includes gay and overweight teens).

Violence

No physical violence, but plenty of cyberbullying, and a teen's intended suicide is a major plot point.

Sex

Sex is frequently a conversation point among teen girls, who talk about "going all the way" and teen pregnancy. A girl makes it known that she regrets sleeping with her boyfriend. STDs and alleged promiscuity are used as cyberbullying tools, and teens call the victim a "skank" and a "whore." A minor character's homosexuality is mentioned as it relates to bullying.

Language

Teens use words including "ass," "bitch," "damn," "pissed off," and name-calling like "skank" and "whore." Much of the language is heard as well as seen in teens' online comments.

Consumerism

One reference to Facebook. The movie centers on a similar but fictitious social site called Cliquesters.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

In one scene, a teen intends to kill herself by overdosing on pills, but she's stopped before she can do so.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this TV movie takes a realistic and thoughtful approach to the issue of online bullying as seen through the eyes of a teen victim. Though the social website at the heart of the story is fictional, its similarity to Facebook and the like is implied, so you can draw real-world parallels between the characters' interactions and what your teens find online. The emotional content touches on issues like homophobia and suicide, so be prepared to discuss these themes as well. There's some strong language ("ass" and "damn") and a lot of name-calling ("skank," "whore," "bitch"), both face-to-face and online, and teens talk about their own sexual experiences and their views on premarital sex. There are some positive messages about tolerance, standing up to peer pressure, and turning the tables on adversity, but the movie's serious tone makes it best for teens and up.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Taylor Hillridge (Emily Osment) is thrilled when her mom gives her a computer for her 17th birthday and entrusts her with unmonitored access to the Internet. At the encouragement of her best friend, Samantha (Kay Panabaker), Taylor joins a popular social site called Cliquesters and weighs in on her classmates' gossip. But she soon finds herself the target of some nasty comments from some of the girls in her class -- and eventually some blatant lies from a mysterious admirer. The situation spirals out of control, driving Taylor to a breaking point; it's only with the support of her mother, Kris (Kelly Rowan), and the help of other victims that she's able to overcome the emotional trauma of the experience and use it to effect changes that will help protect other teens.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Relevant and thought-provoking, CYBERBULLY is a great jumping-off point for talking to teens about the very real dangers that exist online. The movie does a good job of working in most of the hot-button issues related to this topic, including the anonymity that exists online, the legal loopholes that enable cyberbullying, the social pressure on teens to partake in digital relationships, and the emotional devastation that bullying inflicts on its victims and their families. The story also looks at the situation from bystanders' point of view, showing how their indifference further enables the behavior and isolates victims.

 

There's some stereotyping among the characters (a posse of mean girls is at behind the bullying, and victims include a gay teen and an overweight girl), but a few plot twists serve as reminders that anyone is capable of contributing to the problem. It's true that the issue of online safety is as relevant to today's cyber-savvy younger kids as it is to teens, but this movie isn't the best way to introduce them to the subject due to its weighty subject matter, references to sexual relationships and STDs, and strong language. It is worth making a date to watch and discuss it with your teen, though; you might just be surprised at what you learn about this serious issue.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about online safety. Teens: What are your family's rules about using the Internet? Are there sites you're not allowed to visit? Why? How do these rules compare to your friends'? What are the dangers of sharing personal information online?

  • How has technology improved the quality of our lives? How has it changed how we communicate? Is there a downside to the fact that with cell phones and the Internet, we're always accessible?

  • Why is cyberbullying such a hot topic? Teens: Do you ever see this kind of behavior among people you know? Do you think it is exaggerated or underreported, or does the media portray it accurately? Have you been bullied or cyberbullied? What are your coping mechanisms? 

Movie details

DVD release date:February 7, 2012
Cast:Emily Osment, Kay Panabaker, Kelly Rowan
Studio:GAIAM
Genre:Drama
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13

This review of Cyberbully was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bycarpediem3111 July 20, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

completely unrealistic, don't waste your time with this

i go to a public high school and not one kid there would
A. accept a friend request from a complete stranger
B. create a fake account online just to teach their friend a "lesson"
C. not delete the account when the bullying started
D. be so overdramatic and break down in tears at every tiny insult

also, no one is mean to anyone else for no reason. the reason may be petty or superficial but it's still there.
also in high school, nothing is going to make the ENTIRE SCHOOL turn against you. this movie was laughable at best. insulting to teens at worst. we're not this stupid

Adult Written byCocoChanelLove July 20, 2011
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Wow Thumps up

Cyberbully is mainly saying if your being bullied you should stand up for yourself or tell someone like a teacher or parent or admistrator or etc... Take me for example.... I was bullied for 8 years EIGHT and it was as soon as i transferred to public school in the 3rd grade. It took until I got into Middle school for it to get realy bad. I got into a fight because of it and there was this group of girls who I hated, they was picking on me I mean everytime I show up at school they was always right there and they would tell me to do stuff like Lick the ice cream of someone shoe or eat my lipstick or carry our books and projects and they would call me fat, ugly, godzilla, acne face, jacka..., donlkey kong, donkey brains, swine...etc.... They would even put kick me signs on my back or Give me a $20 and I'll suck your......... But all im sayiong is dont wait as long as i did to get help help. I got help but it didnt do anything, one teacher hated me so he joined in too. But its never to late to get help!!! GET HELP DONT WAIT LIKE I DID.

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Adult Written bykdiggity July 18, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Brian dumbing

Terrible acting. Should have been an hour long, not 2 hours, but Taylor kept closing her laptop and running three feet to cry( this fills about one hour of the movie).

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