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The Impact of Digital Technology on Family Relationships

The Impact of Digital Technology on Family Relationships

With technology, we can now communicate not only with each other in person but also with “smart tech.” Smart tech includes smartphone and computer communications, such as email, text messages, and artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s SIRI. Such advances make our lives easier and more convenient but, when it comes to family relationships, they can be tools for harmful marital discourse and domestic abuse.

Access to and the use of technology can exacerbate relationship breakdowns, leading to cyberbullying, harassment, and digital privacy violations. Although there are many ways abuse and control can manifest in households, technology is providing more opportunities for abusers to control, harass, and stalk their victims.

The mobile phone, in particular, can provide a way of tracking and monitoring the activity of a partner or a child without their knowledge or consent. Internet-connected video doorbells and security cameras make it possible to watch what someone is doing at home from anywhere in the world. Sensors on doors can reveal when someone leaves the house, while the use of smart lightbulbs can detect their movements between rooms.

Another example of digital abuse is when one person in the household who is designated in charge of household equipment, like the heating system, washing machine, etc., takes advantage of this role for coercion and control. The ability to remotely manage household appliances, such as lights, door locks, and heating systems, can strip a sense of control from others in the home. If these devices stop functioning properly, only one person can put things straight again—a classic method of enforcing dependence.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of e-mail, websites, instant messaging, chat rooms, cell-phone text messaging, and digital cameras to antagonize and intimidate others. It may involve harassment on social media, through email, via SMS or messaging platforms, or any other place online. If it constitutes bullying and it takes place online, it is cyberbullying.

Harassment occurs when the offender engages in behavior that both annoys the victim and serves no legitimate purpose.

Types of Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying comes in many different forms.

Some of the most common types of cyberbullying someone may see or experience include:

  • Flaming – Online fights, name calling, and similar actions
  • Disparaging – Posts or messages that target someone, including posts that target someone based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or personal characteristics
  • Exclusion – Leaving someone out of a game, group chat, or any other social media activity
  • Outing – Sharing someone’s secrets or private information
  • Trickery – Tricking someone into telling you something private and then outing it.
  • Impersonation – Pretending to be someone you are not (also known as “catfishing”)
  • Harassment – Repeatedly sending malicious messages
  • Cyberstalking – Continuously harassing and disparaging including threats of physical harm

To learn more about cyberbullying, harassment, or other harmful conduct within a family setting, please contact Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. Our Long Island family law attorneys can help you understand and protect your rights.

Contact us online or call (516) 406-8500 today.

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