If there is a generational divide today it is definitely digital. It’s not like parents don’t know how to use smartphones and understand how to use social media—they do (mostly). The generational divide is a mentality. Parents send texts and make posts on social, but they fail to realize that online, digital life is the main life that matters to their teens. What’s worse is, parents sometimes seem blissfully unaware of some of the dangers that left unchecked and unsupervised, can get their teen into serious trouble. And if they don’t understand the dangers, they can’t possibly be talking to their teens about them.
Dating Violence in the Digital Age Pop Quiz:
- You probably know what “sexting” is, but what is “sextortion?”
- How many clicks is PornHub, a porn site filled with often violent porn, from Snapchat?
- Define “sexual bullying.”
- What percent of teens who experienced digital abuse also experienced physical abuse?
- True or False: If you aren’t dating, you are less likely to be abused and harassed.
- “Sextortion” is using threats or pictures already in your possession to get an individual to send more (often more explicit photos or videos) or sometimes even money to ensure you don’t send out pictures to the school or family members on social media.
- 5 clicks from one of the most popular teen apps. And pornography is often teaching boys (and girls) about human sexuality and what is acceptable and normal behavior—even if it is violent.
- “Sexual bullying” is the name-calling, psychological, and often physical abuse suffered by someone who has had a compromising photograph shared around the school. It has caused victims to have to switch schools and even commit suicide.
- 52% of teens who have experienced digital abuse will also experience physical abuse.
- False. Not being in a dating relationship does not spare someone from the potential abuse physically or online.
★ Here is one more sobering statistic—while 25% of teens are harassed or abused digitally, only about 9% seek out help. (And it is rarely from parents or teachers.)
Based on the data, if parents want to help guide and guard against things like this happening to their children, they really need to get educated and be willing to initiate conversations with their children. Otherwise, you’re leaving your teen to navigate a Digital City with creepy people and dangerous back alleys.
A. Be a parent that is approachable, askable, and relatable.
Don’t freak out over what you hear. Steer clear of interrogating your teen with a million questions. If you can’t keep your emotions in check, your teen won’t talk to you about the digital part of their lives for a really long time. (Also, realize your teen could do nothing wrong and something explicit could be sent to their phone.)
Smartphones, the internet, video games, and social media all have their benefits and their dangers. Fortunately, there are tons of resources available on the internet to educate yourself.
B. Be aware of the signs of dating abuse and harassment.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. They have an excellent list on their website of warning signs.
Have you noticed any of these warning signs in your teen?
- Their boy/girlfriend calling to check where they’re at and who they’re with.
- Demanding to be the first person called and the last person called each day.
- Checking cell phones, emails, or social networks without permission.
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Constant belittling or put-downs.
- Explosive temper.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Making false accusations.
- Constant mood swings. (A quiet teen might become talkative. A talkative teen may become withdrawn. Look for changes in behavior.)
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way.
- Telling someone what they can and cannot do.
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex.
C. Help your teen be aware of the short-term consequences AND long-term.
Not only could your teen become the victim of mental, psychological, and physical abuse, but a simple nude photo sent to their boyfriend or girlfriend puts their future at significant risk. The internet is forever, no matter how much they may think something is deleted. When a future employer or the school of their choice Googles their name, what’s going to come up?
Use these resources below to help you start the conversation about dating violence in the digital age…
How Do I Get My Teen To Talk To Me?
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***