What Is Digital Dating Abuse? - Part 2

Last week, we looked at the description of what Digital Dating Abuse is and what it can look like. This week, we’re looking at solutions and prevention of Digital Dating Abuse.

What Can Teens Do If They Feel They’re A Victim Of Digital Dating Abuse?

Teens should know that their boyfriend/girlfriend should always respect the healthy boundaries that they set in their relationships. Teens should feel safe turning off their phone or “unplugging” for a while and hanging out with friends, without facing any reprimands later. Teens should know that they don’t have to send any texts or pictures or do anything that makes them uncomfortable in their relationships; because once those pictures are out in “cyberspace,” they can be posted or used anywhere or sent to other people.

If teens feel like they are a victim of digital dating abuse, they can and should:

  • Reach out to a trusted adult for help.
  • Reach out to a reputable organization for help. LoveIsRespect.org is a wonderful organization that supports teens who may feel like they need help.

What Can Parents Do About Digital Dating Abuse?

  • Notice the signs of their teen potentially being abused:
    • Checking their cell phone, email, or social networks compulsively and not wanting to be “offline” or without their devices.
    • Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
    • Constantly being put-down or belittled by their significant other.
  • Model and talk about healthy relationship boundaries and respect.
  • Realize that just “pulling the plug” on technology doesn’t solve the underlying issue.
  • Keep current with the technology your child uses. If you need help figuring out what apps are useful and what apps should be avoided, check out our Resource Center For Parents.
  • Keep communicating with your teen about what they’re using technologies for and who they’re having conversations with. When necessary, monitor their use.
  • Keep checking their cell phone and internet activity. Review text messages and internet histories. Let them know that you will be checking them because you want to help them protect their digital reputation. (For more on this, see our blog posts on Digital Tattoos and Digital Citizenship.)

What Can Educators Do About Digital Dating Abuse?

As educators, you often have more contact on a daily basis than parents do. How can you help notice the signs of Digital Dating Abuse for the students you see every day? And what can you do if you see the symptoms? In her article on neaToday.org, Mary Ellen Flannery notes:

“At best, we’re talking about students distracted from learning. At worst, we’re remembering the teen who retired Ohio teacher Deloris Rome Hudson will never forget: The one strangled to death by her boyfriend, one month before her high school graduation.
      Today’s educators need to be alert to the signs of teen dating abuse. But stopping abuse isn’t enough. We equally need to prevent it. And that can happen from the youngest grades on up, when we help students understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and know that they deserve that instead. Learning how to develop and maintain positive relationships is part of the social and emotional learning that keeps us all safe and happy - and leads to academic success.”

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Smart Girl Society, Inc., is an Omaha-based nonprofit working to educate and inspire Smart & Confident girls, women, & families. Through educational workshops, civil outreach programs, and technology & social media research, we work with girls, parents, & educators to authenticity on social media and in real life. We educate how to remain safe on social media and how to avoid becoming a target of sextortion. We also inspire action for students to focus on their personal brand development, leadership, educational opportunities, and healthy social skills. Interested in learning more? Check us out!


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