Digital Dating Abuse

  • New research suggests digital dating abuse is on the rise, and boys may be most at risk.
  • Experts say the research may be flawed in how it defines digital dating abuse, but that it still exists.
  • It’s important to talk to teenagers about the different types of abuse and what they should look out for from an early age.
  • If you suspect your teen may be a victim or perpetrator of any type of abuse, seek help from a mental health crisis center or local law enforcement.

recent study out of Florida is the first of its kind to take a deep look at digital dating violence as it applies to teenagers. The findings were surprising.

Of the 2,218 middle and high school students that participated in the research, more than a quarter (28.1 percent) of those who had been linked romantically in the past year said they’d also been subjected to digital dating violence.

Boys reported experiencing more of this abuse than girls, with 32.3 percent saying they’d been victims compared to 23.6 percent of their female counterparts.

The study defined digital dating violence as a romantic partner doing any of the following:

  • keeping them from using their devices
  • sending threats via text
  • posting content online to publicly make fun of, threaten, or embarrass them
  • posting a picture without permission
  • Laurie A. Couture is a licensed mental health counselor and trauma specialist for children and adolescents.

    She explained that digital dating violence often extends beyond what was mentioned in the study.

    “It could entail sending unwanted sexts or making unwanted and harassing sexual comments via text or social media. It could also entail more serious abuse such as stalking or catfishing,” she said.

    Couture, who’s the author of the book “Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons,” went on to say that “Unfortunately, digital dating violence is becoming increasingly common among adolescents and young adults. The more young people are moving their lives online, the more vulnerable they are to these dynamics.”