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 you, lowers your self-esteem, or manipulates you. You may be experiencing digital dating violence if your partner:

  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, or other sites
  • Sends you negative, insulting, or threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs, or other messages online
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and others to keep constant tabs on you
  • Puts you down in their status updates
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and/or demands you send some in return
  • Pressures you to send explicit videos or texts
  • Insists on being given your passwords, stealing passwords, or manipulating you into providing them
  • Constantly texts and making you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear of disappointing them or of being threatened or punished
  • Looking through your phone frequently, checking pictures, texts, and outgoing calls
  • Tagging you negatively in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
  • Using any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or settings on a phone) to monitor your whereabouts.

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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