*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on StudyFinds.
A new study may make you long for the days of notes being passed back and forth in class stating “do you like me? Yes or no.” Life is infinitely more complicated for today’s youth than it was for generations past. Adolescents are constantly in contact with each other thanks to the internet, smartphones, and social media. While all of that technology can certainly be used in a positive way, oftentimes it leads to cyberbullying and harassment. Now, researchers from Florida Atlantic University are shedding light on yet another problem the internet has created for teenagers: digital dating abuse.
Defined as using technology to repeatedly harass a love interest, partner, or crush in order to coerce, control, intimidate, threaten, or just plain old annoy, digital dating abuse has developed into a disturbingly common phenomenon. The research team analyzed over 2,200 U.S. middle and high school students, and 28.1% admitted they had been subjected to a form of online dating abuse over the past year.
Perhaps surprisingly, the study also noted that boys (32.3%) appear to be experiencing this type of abuse more often than girls (23.6%). Across all variations, boys were more likely to have experienced a form of digital dating abuse. In fact, boys were also more likely to have experienced physical aggression from their partners. Besides these gender fluctuations, researchers didn’t find any significant demographic differences regarding the rate of digital abuse among varying races, ages, or sexual orientations.
Examples of digital abuse given by participants included their partner looking through their phone without permission, having their phone flat out stolen by their partner, being threatened via text, their partner posting something embarrassing or hurtful about them online, or their partner posting a private image online without their consent.
Besides online abuse, 35.9% of participants also said they’ve been a victim of offline dating abuse (being pushed, shoved, hit, threatened physically, called names, etc).
“Specific to heterosexual relationships, girls may use more violence on their boyfriends to try to solve their relational problems, while boys may try to constrain their aggressive impulses when trying to negotiate discord with their girlfriends,” says Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., lead author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, in a release.
The study is published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.