The internet has made it possible for human beings to make bonds among each other from across the planet. And it has allowed us to exploit these bonds and hurt others. In the US, almost a quarter of teenagers have faced a form of digital dating abuse.
The generation gap is so wide that parents can’t begin to fathom the digital world their children reside in. Loveisrespect.org reports that while more than 80% of parents claimed that they could tell when their child was being abused in a romantic relationship, more than 50% actually were not able to identify the abuse.
The hallmark of such abuse is a constant demand on the part of the abuser to ‘know where their partners are’. Other signs are a manipulation of the victim’s digital profile on social networks: this involves taking their passwords and controlling who to befriend.
A rather severe outcome of such relations is blackmail by threatening to release confidential information on the web. Jeff Temple, an associate professor who recently authored a paper in NASN School Nurse regarding Digital Forms of Dating Violence, suggests, “Digital dating abuse may be a warning sign of traditional abuse.” The two come hand in hand.
The authors argue that it is the job of a school nurse to know when a student is being abused in this manner and intervene. Obviously, for a nurse to be any effective in such matters, the nurse first needs to show proficiency in using the web.
On part of the young lovers, it would pay to have the mental ability to step away from the digital world when things start going downhill. The chief editor of the magazine Seventeen advises that “the most powerful thing you can do is just step away”.
If you know someone who is a victim of digital dating abuse, then it is worth considering that although this fix may sound simple, there are emotional stings which keep the victim glued to the net. A little bit of sympathy from you will go a long way if you decide to intervene.