July 8, 2022

Teen Dating Safety for the Digital World

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Teenagers and young adults increasingly live much of their lives in the digital world

Note: This article was originally posted on DomesticShelters.org to help educate domestic violence victims, survivors and professionals about how to stay safe when using technology. You can read the original article and find other educational resources here.

For teens, smartphones and tablets put the internet in the palm of their hand, second-screening illustrates their resistance to putting those devices down, and online platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok enable conversations with friends and exploration of interests and trends—all while remaining hidden from their parents.

Parents and caretakers naturally want to strike the right balance of trusting and protecting their children, especially regarding digital friendships and romantic relationships. While kids and teens sharing their lives online may seem typical of today’s youth, it also puts them at risk, from cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content, to engaging with ill-intentioned individuals and myriad other digital threats that could result in danger offline, as well as online.

Solutions available to parents as they look to ensure children and teens’ safety online include screen time monitoring, content, categories, and app filters for age-appropriateness, but tools that prevent violence or cyberbullying among friends or romantic partners, for example, are lacking.

As tech-powered tools that protect against a broader spectrum of online threats continue to evolve with features like artificial intelligence that identifies threats, parents can explore other ways to keep their kids and teens safe in their online lives. Start by fostering open and understanding conversations about safe online relationships and healthy boundaries before they start dating. Explain warning signs of abuse, and discuss what is normal/acceptable in friendships, as well as how technology can help/exacerbate fights and decrease privacy. This awareness and shared understanding lead to empowerment for kids and teens in their digital life and better online safety for everyone.

Below are a few tips to help from intelligent security company Aura, which has partnered with DomesticShelters.org to share digital safety advice for survivors and potential victims of domestic and dating violence.

  • New online safety tools like Aura, parental controls and privacy settings on social media sites can empower parents to establish healthy boundaries with teens and foster healthy and open conversations about safe online relationships. While digital security and parental controls can help protect your child from strangers online, often the risk of violence or bullying comes from someone they know.
  • Social media can be used to stalk, track and intimidate friends or partners. When you tag photos with locations and have a public account, it is important to remind your teen that anyone can see them.
  • Empower teens to evaluate any romantic relationships and create a dialogue with friends using the myPlan app/quiz to understand if a relationship is healthy or if a partner has the potential to be abusive. Things like partners demanding nonstop or constant contact can be a red flag, especially for people who are new to dating and relationships.
  • Remind your teen to not share their passwords with anyone, and to use not-easily-guessed passphrases instead of just passwords for added security.
  • Believe them when they share concerns—statistics show only a third do, so they must be taken seriously.

Aura has created a special offer for DomesticShelters.org: access a free two-week trial of Aura's all-in-one intelligent digital security solution, and if you like it, purchase a subscription at 40 percent off. Use these links to try the Individual Plan, Couples’ Plan or the Family Plan with this special offer. DomesticShelters.org does not receive any compensation for purchases through this offer.