The Role of Substance Use in Adolescent Girls’ Perpetration of Controlling Behavior with Dating Partners via Social Networking

tabletApproximately 20% of teenagers experience some form of dating violence (DV) (Shorey, Fite, Choi, Cohen, Stuart, & Temple, 2015). Advances in technology provide a new outlet for teen DV behaviors to occur though the platform of social networking or information technology (SN/IT). SN/IT DV is a vehicle for psychological aggression, with nearly 26% of teenagers reporting being a victim of cyber dating abuse (Zweig, Lachman, Yahner, & Dank, 2014). Prior research has associated physical DV with substance use; however, there is a paucity of research on the relationship between substance use and SN/IT controlling behavior.

The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between substance use (alcohol and marijuana) and SN/IT controlling behavior (i.e. checking a partners text messages) in adolescent girls with a history of DV perpetration. Results showed that there was not a significant relationship between lifetime alcohol use and SN/IT controlling behavior perpetration, χ2 (1, N=107) = .50, p > .05.

There was a significant relationship between marijuana use and SN/IT controlling behavior perpetration, χ2 (1, N=108) = .02, p < .05, with girls who reported using marijuana engaging in more SN/IT controlling behaviors. In terms of alcohol, the results were incongruent with previous research; it is possible alcohol use is more closely related to physical DV.

Our results suggest a relationship between marijuana and SN/IT controlling behaviors. This could be due to the easier accessibility adolescents may to marijuana since it is not government regulated. However, this study did not assess for the frequency of SN/IT use, which could assist in clarifying the discrepancy. Future studies should examine other types of SN/IT behaviors that may be associated with interpersonal DV, as well as using these data to develop preventative intervention.

Authors: Rachel Taylor, Meredith Joppa, Christie J. Rizzo, & Tiffany Marcantonio

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