Do digital abusers lack self control ?

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Crossing Boundaries Online in Romantic Relationships: An Exploratory Study of The Perceptions of Impact on Partners by Cyberstalking Offenders

Young adults and adolescents have come to rely on the Internet in many aspects of their life, communications and forming relationships are not an exception. The intrusive level of access provided by technologies such as GPS and location tracking can become an ‘electronic leash’, and a means to violative, unlawful behaviour. Cyberstalking and cyber-harassment can be a recurring problem between romantically involved young adults.

Marcus, Higgins, and Nicholson surveyed students from a mid-sized, American university to better understand the young people engaging in illicit behaviour on the web. From a group of 500 thousand, 890 randomly chosen students completed a survey questionnaire. The survey was designed to assess the level of self-control of the participant, learn about the activities of their peers and record their perceptions of the possible consequences of cyberstalking behaviours. The resulting analysis showed support for the idea that those with lower self-control were less likely to foresee negative consequences, such as a break up, if their cyberstalking were discovered by a partner. Those that used social networking sites more frequently were less likely to think that partners would be angry about being cyberstalked. Younger people appeared to be less inclined to believe online harassment could harm their relationships. The results showed no clear link between the activities of peers and considering the effects of their actions, however there has been shown to be a link between self control and peers in other studies.

It appears that frequent users of social networking, a large group in today’s digital world do not anticipate negative consequences from stalking behaviours. People with lower self-control were also less likely to foresee the anger and rejection as a consequence of their cyberstalking activities.

The emergence of the abuse of technology in intimate relationships is troubling, even though some perpetrators acknowledged this behavior would upset their partners, it still happens.