Mixing the teenage mind, text messaging, and social media can be a recipe for dangerous miscues in the communication age, experts say.
A study released this month and co-written by a Florida Atlantic University professor casts new light on the dangers of cyber bullying among teenagers—and how a simple text message or Facebook post taken out of context can lead to violence.
The study looks at the phenomenon of “electronic dating violence,” a growing subset of cyber bullying.
As in any generation, teenagers use relationships as status symbols, experts say. But with text messages and social media, relationships are more about keeping tabs and less about giving space, said FAU professor Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.
A generation ago, when people spoke face to face or on landlines, there was less misunderstanding, he said.
“Online, all you’re left with is your interpretation of that text,” Hinduja said. “Are they flirting? Is he cheating?”
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A generation ago, there also was a parental buffer, he said. A parent might have picked up the house phone and not liked someone calling a child all the time.
But now, a teen sends out an average of 3,000 text messages a month, said Hinduja, who teaches criminology at FAU’s Jupiter campus.