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Anyone who has been in a relationship starting in the 21st century can most likely personally relate to at least some form of digital abuse from a significant other. Cell phones have become so prevalent in the daily lives of individuals, allowing users to form secret societies and even secret relationships in the online world. The generation’s high reliance on social media and technology is creating a whole new world full of concern and lacking of trust.

In an MTV Digital Abuse Study conducted in 2009, we learn of the key findings regarding digital dating abuse and how to recognize if you’re experiencing this abuse and what to do about it. Cell phones play a huge role in the manipulation and control of young people in relationships. The study highlights the common tendencies of young people in relationships both abusing and receiving abuse, stating, “Almost a quarter of young people currently in some sort of romantic relationship report that their boyfriend or girlfriend checks up with them multiple times per day, either online or on a cell phone, to see where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing.” Statistics in the study show how common it is for young people in relationships in the 21st century to complain about a significant other pressuring them to be in constant contact and know (or even track) their every move. This lack of trust has become a sort of normality in relationships now-a-days, yet where should we put the blame? A relationship should be built on trust and without trust there is no relationship (well no healthy one at that) no matter how hard one tries to convince oneself otherwise. With the rise of social media and technology taking place in today’s society, people are constantly feeling the pressure to be attached to one’s phone – especially when feeling obligated to chat every minute and update others non-stop from waking up to going to bed. Some relationships are often even completely dependent on technology such as FaceTime and Text Message. Of course in some cases this can strengthen a relationship, but it more cases than not the relationship can become overwhelming and completely consuming of your life when away from your significant other. Statistics in the study show that “22% say they feel like their significant other checks up on them too often, while 15% say that their significant other complains that they check up too often.”

Distance has often proved to make the heart grow fonder, and in the age of the digital era we find ourselves in, this still often tends to be the case – even if one can’t admit to it. As human beings, we need our alone time every once in a while; and this alone time doesn’t, well shouldn’t, necessarily involve being attached to one’s cellular device. Technology can play a positive role in relationships, keeping couples connected from a distance and allowing for maybe a greater communication between individuals. However, when and if the relationship begins to rely solely on interaction via cell phone or computer, trust can be put at stake.

Pictures, ‘likes’ and comments on social media such as Facebook and Instagram allow for individuals to keep tabs on the whereabouts and behavior of others – that can often times be misrepresented on the surface of the internet. The term “Facebook stalking” is widely known to the majority of society, where problems arise from the simple accessibility to profiles and pictures of almost anyone imaginable. The study also states, “More than 1 in 4 say their boyfriend or girlfriend has checked the text messages on their phone without permission.” The simple fact that almost every individual holds a cell phone, often considered sacred and private, is building a lack of trust between general individuals in society, whether in a relationship or not.

Sources:

http://www.athinline.org/MTV-AP_Digital_Abuse_Study_Executive_Summary.pdf

http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/digital-abuse

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