For Adults Supporting Teens

Digital dating violence is a pattern of behaviours in which one partner controls, pressures, or threatens their dating partner using digital technologies. Digital dating violence is also known as technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV); in this toolkit, we use the term digital dating violence to reflect teen relationships. For more on dating violence, see What Is Teen Dating Violence?

Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices, and resources that generate, store, or process data. Digital technologies include social media, online games, multimedia, smartphones, and the Internet. Common examples of digital dating violence include harassing and threatening texting and the misuse of social media to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner.

In a healthy relationship, all communication is respectful whether in person, online, or by phone. It is never okay for someone to do or say anything that intimidates another, lowers their self-esteem, or manipulates them. Teens may be experiencing digital dating violence if their partner:

  • Tells them who they can or can’t be friends with on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, or other sites
  • Sends them negative, insulting, or threatening emails, texts, tweets, DMs (Direct Messages), or other messages online
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok to keep constant tabs on their partner
  • Puts them down in their status updates (e.g. name-calling, posting embarrassing information)
  • Sends unwanted, explicit pictures and demands similar pictures in return
  • Pressures them to send explicit photos or videos
  • Insists that they be given the person’s digital passwords, steals passwords, or manipulates a person to disclose their passwords
  • Constantly texts and makes them feel like they can’t be separated from their phone for fear of disappointing them or of being threatened or punished
  • Looks through their phone frequently, and checks pictures, texts, and outgoing calls constantly.

Digital Dating Violence is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing digital dating violence, you are not alone. Encourage them to chat with a trusted adult, connect with the Kids Help Phone to create a safety plan, or you can use to find a shelter/transition house near you to discuss options and create a safety plan. You don’t need to stay in a shelter to access free, confidential services and support.

Adapted with permission from BCSTH’s Technology Safety project, based on their resource What is Digital Dating Violence? For Adults.

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