Cyberbully

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Cyberbully Movie Poster Image
Emotional movie raises issues of online safety for teens.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 87 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 162 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykdiggity July 18, 2011

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... Continue reading
Adult Written byCocoChanelLove July 20, 2011

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... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycarpediem3111 July 20, 2011

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 thei... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysummer rocks July 17, 2011

Very good movie, but only for kids + 13

i just finished watching this movie with my mom and we both liked it. Lesson was never give out personal info, and stick up for yourself or a friend.It does hav... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love high school issues

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate