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Teen dating violence & the age of technology/social media

By Alyssa Fahrenkamp, Family and Youth Advocate at The Bridge to Hope in Menomonie, WI

Teenage years are often the years for dating, finding interests and connecting with friends. Most of these things involve the use of technology. Teens are on their phone constantly, whether it is to chat with a friend, look something up or to watch YouTube. With the constant use of technology, it is important to be careful online. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the theme this year is “Be About It”.  I want to “Be About It” and inform you about online teen dating violence.

According to, “We discovered in our 2022 Online Abuse and Harassment Survey that the most common setting in which online harassment occurred was on social media (70%) and via text or other messaging apps (78%)”. Harassment has historically happened at school but now it continues at home.

Some of the apps on teens phones could be dating apps. A few of the popular dating apps teens are using are: MyLOL, Skout, Yubo, Meet Me, and Tinder. If teens choose to use these apps, it is important to ensure the phone location is off, to limit matches to only people close to their age, and refrain from sharing private photos. 

Parents, it is important to have discussions about internet safety with your children. Start these discussions early. Your children are the experts of the apps they are using so approach discussions with curiosity instead of judgment. Let them teach you about what they know. Make sure to discuss that it is important to not share private information online, if it seems too good to be true it probably is, and what you send to others online stays there.

Tips for Teens

Always make sure not to share private information such as address, school, employment, etc. If you meet someone online make sure to do this in a public setting. Bring someone that you trust with you. If someone makes you uncomfortable online, or after meeting, block them. 

Once you start dating or simply chatting, consider telling a trusted adult or stopping communication, if the person you are talking with is excessively messaging you and/ or gets mad if you don’t respond; if they send negative messages that are insulting, intimidating or threatening or if they force you to share your location with them. These are all signs of dating violence/online bullying. 

It is also important to be cautious if someone tells you who to be friends with in real life, on social media, or if they make fake accounts to spy on you online. If they hack into your account to post on your social media/impersonate you and post negative, insulting or humiliating things about you online then it is important to report or block them and to consider telling a trusted adult. More concerning behaviors are if someone pressures you to send photos that are sexual, looks through your phone without your permission, sends you unwanted photos, or demand passwords. 

As the Family and Youth Advocate at the Bridge to Hope in Menomonie, I can talk to youth about cyber bullying/ teen dating violence. I can provide one on one meetings with youth and parents of youth to discuss their concerns. I am a listening ear and their support when they need someone free and confidential to talk to. We can create safety plans if they are currently in, ready to leave, or recovering from an abusive online relationship. The Bridge to Hope’s teen groups allow teens to discuss similar topics like this with other people their age.

Show your support for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and wear orange on February 7th. Tag “The Bridge to Hope” on Facebook when you do this.

Check out our Facebook page all February for more information on Teen Dating Violence.

The Bridge to Hope text and call line has an advocate available 24/7 and is free and confidential. You can text us at 715-505-3640 or call 715-235-9074 or 1-800-924-9918.


Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Online Safety Tips for Teens | NCDIT

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