The same study concluded that teenagers who commit cyberdating violence are also more likely to be victimized by it, and that victims are more likely to commit cyberdating violence.
The findings were published in the Journal of Youth and Adolesence.
“While researchers have explored teens’ use of technology to perpetrate dating violence, little is known about how traditional in-person and cyber abuse are linked, and this is the first study to examine their relationship over time,” said Jeff Temple, an associate professor at the medical branch’s department of obstetrics and gynecology and the lead researcher for the study.
The study defined cyber dating abuse as “monitoring, controlling, harassing or otherwise abusing a dating partner via technology” and specifically pointed at sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The study collected information from 1,042 high school students as a part of a six-year study of teen health in several public schools in Texas. The same information has been used in previous studies published by medical branch researchers, on things like sexting habits and sexual behavior.
Teens are more likely to use technology to communicate, according to the study. The researchers cited previous findings that showed 92 percent of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 used the Internet daily, and that nearly three quarters of teens had access to smartphones, which they use to send up to 60 texts per day.
The medical branch’s study looked at whether teens who suffered or conducted one form of abuse were involved in cyber abuse the following year.
The researchers found that cyber dating victims are likely to commit cyber dating abuse themselves over the next year and that teen abusers are themselves likely to become victims. Victims were also likely to become victims and abusers were likely to continue abusing, the study shows.
The findings show the connections between traditional and cyber dating abuse and suggest that the line separating online and offline relationships is becoming increasingly blurred, Temple said.
“It’s important for parents, teachers and health care providers to be aware that victims of cyber dating abuse may be experiencing other forms of dating abuse as well,” Temple said. “Speaking with teens about their online behaviors could provide some insight into their other relationship behaviors.”