Cyber Dating Abuse: Investigating Digital Monitoring Behaviors Among Adolescents From a Social Learning Perspective

Joris Van Ouytsel, Koen Ponnet, Michel Walrave

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Just as with other forms of abuse such as bullying, dating violence is no longer limited to physical spaces. Several forms of dating violence can also be perpetrated by means of technology. Few studies have used a theoretical perspective to investigate cyber dating abuse. This study addresses this gap in the literature by focusing on the perpetration of digital monitoring behaviors—a form of cyber dating abuse—from a social learning perspective. We investigate the extent to which perceived social norms about cyber dating abuse, witnessing controlling behaviors among parents, and endorsing gender stereotypes are linked with adolescents’ engagement in digital monitoring behaviors. The study draws on data from 466 secondary school students (71.0% girls, n = 331) aged between 16 and 22 years (M = 17.99 years, SD = 0.92) in Flanders, Belgium, who were in a romantic relationship. Linear regression analysis indicates that being female, being older, the perceived social norms of peers, the endorsement of gender stereotypes, and having observed intrusive controlling behaviors by the father are significantly and positively related to adolescents’ perpetration of digital monitoring behaviors. The findings have implications for practice and underscore the need for prevention efforts to address and lower the influence of these perceived social norms. Further implications include the need for prevention efforts to focus on diminishing the impact of gender stereotypical attitudes and the influence of witnessing controlling behaviors within the family context on cyber dating abuse perpetration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5157-5178
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number23-24
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • cyber dating abuse
  • dating violence
  • social learning theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cyber Dating Abuse: Investigating Digital Monitoring Behaviors Among Adolescents From a Social Learning Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this