Understanding the Role of Technology in Adolescent Dating and Dating Violence

Abstract

A significant part of an adolescent’s day includes the use of technology, such as cell phone calls, instant messaging, and posts to social networking sites. Although studies have documented the benefits of technology use, there are significant downsides as well. For example, recent studies have shown that adolescents use technology to harass and abuse others, including dating partners. However, questions remain on how technology use and dating violence intersect at different stages in the couple’s relationship and whether this intersection is different for boys and girls. This article begins to fill these gaps by presenting the findings from focus groups with 39 high school aged adolescents, all of whom had experienced a problematic relationship in the past year. Results showed that adolescents used technology to initiate and dissolve dating relationships, often with text messages or posts to social networking sites. Technology use also caused jealousy, and it was used to monitor and isolate partners from others. Gender differences in the use of technology are highlighted. Finally, recommendations for prevention programs for adolescents and parents are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Susana Helm, Justin Ramos, James Charisma, Jaclyn Khil, Lorraine Coffinet-Smith, and Desiree Acosta for their help with data collection and analysis. Special thanks to Jeffrey Berlin for all of his help in coordinating this project. In addition, we would like to thank the providers for their help with recruitment, and, most of all, the youth who participated in the focus groups for sharing their experiences.

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Correspondence to Charlene K. Baker.

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Baker, C.K., Carreño, P.K. Understanding the Role of Technology in Adolescent Dating and Dating Violence. J Child Fam Stud 25, 308–320 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-015-0196-5

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Keywords

  • Adolescent dating
  • Dating violence
  • Cell phones
  • Social media
  • Prevention