According to Loveisrespect, nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a partner in a single year.
Aside from physical abuse, young adults (ages 13 to 21) are also experiencing digital dating abuse. This is the use of technology to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a current or former partner. These behaviors can include unwanted or excessive texting, harassment through social media and pressure to send or receive unwanted sexual photos or messages.
But how prevalent is digital dating abuse? According to a 2013 study from Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, one in four teens is harassed or abused through technology.
Tweens, teens and young adults use ever-changing technology to communicate and connect. Here are some of the latest trending apps:
Monkey is an app common among middle school and high school-aged students. Monkey is for ages 12 and up, and connects to an already-existing Snapchat account. It allows users to chat randomly with other users all over the world, without having each other’s phone number. randomly with other users all over the world, without having each other’s phone number. When a user is matched with a new person, the other user’s gender and age is displayed on the screen (no names or phone numbers). The user can choose to add more time to the video chat, or add the new person on Snapchat to continue the connection.
YOLO is a common phrase used among youth that stands for “you only live once.” This free and anonymous question and answer app is used within Snapchat. YOLO was meant for ages 12 and up. However, in 2019, it was rated 17+ in both Google Play and Apple app stores. Once a user has linked YOLO with an existing Snapchat account, they can also select the “Ask me anything” sticker, which invites followers to swipe up and give feedback or ask questions anonymously.
Similar to YOLO, Sendit also connects to a user’s existing Snapchat account and is rated 17+. In short, users can design a customized “sticker” for friends to see. Friends can answer anonymously directly through Snapchat. As of February 2020, Sendit has 4.8 out of 5 stars in the Apple app store (with nearly 60,000 reviews).
TikTok is a video sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos. Some people may recognize TikTok under its previous name, Musical.ly. TikTok boasts many of the same features, including lip sync and dance challenge videos. Users also have access to the “Special Effects” feature to help make their videos unique, including interactive filters, lighting and background effects. TikTok videos can be searched through hashtags. Aside from lip syncing and dancing, the app is commonly used to share videos of movement-based activities like gymnastics, cheerleading and parkour.
Yubo (formerly known as Yellow)
Yubo allows Snapchat users to connect with other Snapchat users by swiping right or left, similar to Tinder (a dating app). To create a Yubo profile, users must enter their Snapchat username, first name, gender and date of birth. Then they choose if they want to connect with boys, girls or both. The app encourages users to describe themselves using emojis, and finally upload a profile picture and up to five additional pictures. Yubo is often described as “Tinder for teens” because it uses technology to find other users nearby, meaning that users must enable their location on their device.
Discord is the only cross-platform app designed specifically for gamers. The free app is for ages 13 and up and was created to bring people together through a love of gaming. Teens can access Discord through a PC, browser or mobile phone. Users can join a chat they’ve been invited to, or create private servers and invite friends to play and discuss games by voice, text or video. They can also message each other individually or participate in group chats with up to ten people.
Unlike Discord, Twitch is the more well-known gaming app. Rated 17+ in the app store, Twitch allows users to watch live stream gaming and chat with gamers around the world. Twitch has more than 15 million active users daily. Users on this live streaming platform have created 9 million channels to stream their gameplay live. Additionally, users can also make their gaming videos available for people who want to view it later. The most popular gaming channel within Twitch is called Ninja. Ninja is headed by Richard Tyler Blevins (born in 1991), who has more than 10 million followers.
Most teens can be trusted and are capable of interacting with friends using apps. However, parents should be aware that popular apps may seem harmless, but can be used inappropriately and could ultimately lead to dangerous consequences.
We encourage youth and adults to visit EndTechAbuse.org. You’ll find resources such as a cyber safety plan, digital evidence collection guide, podcasts and more.
Follow loveisrespect and Break the Cycle on social media for information and updates to share with friends and family. When sharing posts to spread awareness, use hashtags #TDVAM20, #1Thing, #LoveisRespect, #TeenDVMonth and #OutrageIntoAction.
Learn more about teen dating abuse statistics with this loveisrespect downloadable sheet.