Teens use technology as a way of stalking, abusing, and blackmailing others. In most relationships, Instant Messaging, texting, and social networking places such as My Space are convenient ways to communicate. But in a growing number of teen relationships, technology is being used as a potent weapon against one another. For example, if either the boy or girl friend is not comfortable having a sexual relationship, the other may threaten to wage cyber war by spread rumors and pictures via texting and the internet.

The Teenage Research Unlimited Survey of 13-18 (2008) uncovered the following statistics regarding cyber abuse.

  • 71% of teens recognize the seriousness of using cell phones and social networking in spreading rumors
  • 68% see problem with sharing embarrassing pictures/videos on computers and phones
  • 24% of teens in a relationship text or talk hourly between midnight and 5:00am
  • 30% say they receive text messages wanting to know where they are, what
  • they are doing, and who they are with from their boy/girlfriend 10-30 times per hour

Cell phones and text messaging are a means for a teenager to be independent of their parents and give them assess to others at all times day and night. Consequently many parents have no idea whether their teen maintains constant contact with another nor if they are subject to cyber abuse. Parents need to be on the alert for this possibility and limit late evening cell phone and computer use.

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Author: Evelyn Wenzel, MSW, LCSW, CAP