The role of technology in Adolescent Dating Violence and Abuse

  • Karlie Stonard

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The present research was undertaken to examine the role of Electronic Communication Technology (ECT) in Adolescent Dating Violence and Abuse (ADVA) or what has been termed Technology-Assisted Adolescent Dating Violence and Abuse (TAADVA) and potential correlates using a quantitative research design. This is the first detailed study of TAADVA that has been conducted with British adolescents in the United Kingdom (UK). A new set of questions to explore TAADVA was developed and piloted with adolescents using a robust framework. Adolescents (n = 469; 52% (n = 245) female; 59% (n = 277) who had past year dating relationship experience) aged 12-18 years recruited from secondary schools, youth clubs and via snowballing methods, completed a battery of questionnaires regarding their personal experience of TAADVA, physical and controlling ADVA, friend experience of ADVA and TAADVA, attachment style, relationship experience, and relationship closeness. It was found that TAADVA was prevalent (73% for victimisation and 50% for instigation across 12 types of behaviour) and was experienced via a range of ECT methods, often encompassing multiple behaviours. Although there was some overlap between ADVA and TAADVA, TAADVA was more prevalent than ADVA. Additionally, it was found that ECT appears to create new victims and/or instigators of TAADVA only as around two-thirds of adolescents who experienced TAADVA did not also experience ADVA offline. Adolescents reported experiences of TAADVA (and ADVA) victimisation and instigation. Females however, reported more sexual TAADVA victimisation (i.e. sexting pressure) and victimisation-only experiences of sexual TAADVA than did males. Females involved in TAADVA and ADVA reported having more friends with dating violence experience (as either victims or instigators). In contrast, only males who reported ADVA involvement reported having more friends who instigated dating violence. Avoidant attachment independently predicted TAADVA involvement for males, and further analysis revealed that TAADVA involved males reported higher avoidant attachment to a mother and friend than those not involved in TAADVA. Females involved in TAADVA reported higher avoidant attachment to a mother and father and this was also the case for ADVA in terms of anxious attachment. Furthermore, avoidant attachment to mother mediated the relationship between friend historical dating violence (victimisation and instigation) and self-reported TAADVA for females. Moreover, paternal anxious attachment mediated the relationship between friend current dating violence instigation and self-reported ADVA for females. Implications of the findings are discussed and recommendations are made for future policy, practice and research.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorErica Bowen (Supervisor), Shelley Price (Supervisor), Kate Walker (Supervisor) & Tony Lawrence (Supervisor)


  • adolescent dating violence
  • abuse technology control impact

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