Social media is an indispensable tool in our modern world, especially instant messaging. The most widely used apps like WhatsApp and Telegram have caused cell phones to no longer be used for what they were designed to be: making calls.
It is much easier, faster and more convenient to send a message than to call, which is why people prefer to use the former form of communication. Moreover, with Whatsapp, you can send audios, images, emoticons, videos and all kinds of media resources.
With all progress there are risks and abuses, with cyberbullying being the result of the misuse of new technologies. There are several types of abuse through WhatsApp and similar apps that can be seen in conversations. using these apps, then we’ll explore them.
Types of abuse via WhatsApp
WhatsApp abuse is a form of cyberbullying and other forms of emotional abuse. These terms refer to a series of behaviors aimed at controlling, denigrating, manipulating and harming a person, especially a partner, through the use of new technologies. In this case, we are going to focus on one of the most used instant messaging apps in the world, but it also applies to Telegram and any instant messaging app.
While much progress has been made in raising awareness of psychological abuse, the truth is that not everyone today considers this type of virtual dynamic to be a true form of abuse or harassment. Many people, and worryingly many teens, assume that if couples are controlling their cell phone use or wanting to know who they are talking to, this is a way to show affection.
New forms of abuse and ill-treatment that have arisen with the expansion of new technologies are not uncommon. In fact, there are already studies that show that the number of individuals who have suffered from it is very high. One example is a study carried out by the Autonomous University of Madrid (2015) which indicated that 50% of the population aged 18 to 30 have experienced some form of cyberbullying, including abuse via WhatsApp.
The main forms of this type of abuse are as follows.
1. Urgency to receive a response
Phrases like “why don’t you answer me? Or “what are you doing?” are common in couple WhatsApp chats, being this one of the most recurring experiences for people who end up initiating an emotional relationship of any kind. And not just with the partner, as it can also happen with friends or family who demand that we respond to messages instantly. If they are repeated systematically, they can be considered a form of harassment.
2. Stop being online and not talking about it
There are people who are not very good at seeing their partner who is online and online, but who does not talk to them. This situation can lead to very toxic feelings for the relationship such as mistrust, anger or jealousy.. The fact that the other person didn’t open them to greet them, at least, causes them a lot of frustration and they don’t hesitate to demand that they tell them who they are talking to.
This can make matters worse, forcing her to send you snapshots of who she was talking about or audios she has shared, to make sure no one else is in her life or angers her.
3. Block after a chat
Another type of abuse via WhatsApp is applying what is known as the “ice law”, something common after an argument or anger.. One of them decides to cut off contact with the other, not to speak, to distance himself and even block him from the contact list for a few hours or days. This behavior shows great immaturity and greatly alters the blocked person, who feels that he has no option whatsoever to explain or receive explanations. The relationship is simply severed unilaterally.
This should not be confused with the sound technique of zero contact after a rupture. This technique is used to, after breaking up with someone, avoid suffering when seeing that person on social networks., in addition to avoiding the temptation to speak again and open the healing wounds. In the case of blocking, it is a form of abuse when the relationship is still active and is done as a kind of punishment for the other party.
Another form of abuse consists of resorting to the famous “gaslighting”. In this particular case, involves sending confusing and suspicious messages to the partner, friend or victim in question to confuse them and make them doubt their own memory.. It can also consist in sending messages implying that one is proud of a blow or of a step taken by the other person, then to tell him that he / she made the wrong discussion and that the message does not. was not for her.
5. Force sexting
Sexting is a very common practice that involves exchanging sharp photos and videos. This exchange of intimate material is lawful if both parties agree and if there is a commitment that they will not pass it on to third parties.
However, especially among young people, It may happen that one of the members of the couple asks the other to do it, even if he does not want to, either because he does not like it or because he does not feel at home. ‘easy..
Sexting has become one of the most common forms of abuse on WhatsApp and is evident in phrases like “if you wanted to do it to me” or “of course you did it with your ex, but you didn’t. don’t want to do it with me because you don’t love me… ”The person who demands it, if this desire is refused, can ridicule, criticize and even threaten the other party.
6. Location control
Many couples agree to share their locations with each other by mutual agreement and without suspicion. If there is reciprocity on the part of both or is used with the intention of making sure the other person is okay or if something happens to them to know where to go and get them, it is legal and respectable. However, it is not uncommon for location management to be used as a control and harassment strategy, ensuring that the other person is not in an ex or friend with whom they have a cheating.
Wanting to know where your partner is at all times and sifting through questions about their reasons is another obvious form of emotional abuse committed through this instant messaging app.
7. Message bombardment
Over the years, more and more evidence that social media and mobile apps can negatively affect our mood if used irresponsibly. Messaging services help us convey our mood directly and in real time to others, whether in writing, with emoticons, with audio, or directly through video conferencing.
A very recurring form of abuse through WhatsApp is that they send us a lot of messages in a short period of time, say 30 in less than an hour. The content of these messages can be very varied, ranging from messages of affection such as how we miss them or how much they want us to go through to toxic and desperate comments, such as that we are not talking to them or that we should be. no longer waiting or her.
Because so many messages are being said in such a short period of time, it is difficult for the other person to take the time to respond to all of them, which causes the sender to despair and anger. The longer it takes to respond to everything, the more catastrophic scenarios multiply the one who sent the messages. This is when the strategy of sending messages begins and soon after deleting them so that the other party can see them and be more attentive to their cell phone for fear of losing something (FOMO).
Later, the sender of these messages can go from effusive to critical or aggressive in no time, with phrases like “I am not. not a priority for you ”,“ I see that it is more important to make you deign to answer me ”,“ if you care so much for yourself, why don’t you read everything I send you? ”…
8. Request mobile passwords
Couples and friends who trust each other and maintain good communication with each other do not need to know who they are or are not talking to. anybody. Therefore, when a person asks for another person’s cell phone unlock password or pattern, it can be interpreted as a sign of mistrust, jealousy and fear. Failure to respect a person’s privacy is abuse.
Requiring the password is not a form of abuse via WhatsApp itself, but it may involve this application. Anyone interested in getting this password may want to gossip on their victim’s WhatsApp, as well as other apps like Telegram, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or the image gallery to see if there is a photo. of an ex or a rising photo of someone. outside of the relationship.
Conclusions and final reflection
New technologies are great advancements for humanity, but, as always, advancements come with certain risks that must be identified and addressed. WhatsApp is a very useful instant messaging application, almost indispensable in our everyday life and has brought down the main utility of cellphones, which is nothing more than calling other people. Instant messaging is a more direct, faster and impersonal means of communication.
However, with all that is good, there are different types of abuse through WhatsApp, relatively common cyberbullying behaviors among young people, especially teens, who make less responsible use of new technologies. Ironically, these are the same digital-native teens whose ICT skills are far superior to those of previous generations, including young adults in their twenties.
Education and awareness are essential to prevent a generation that uses new technology more skillfully than the next from using it so irresponsibly that even most adults cannot avoid its negative consequences for relationships and mental health. .
- Borrajo E, Gámez-Guadix M, Calvete E. Cyber-dating abuse: prevalence, context, and relationship to offline dating aggression. Psychological reports. 2015 ; 116 (2): 565-585. doi: 10.2466 / 21.16.PR0.116k22w4
- Dimond, JP, Fiesler, C., Bruckman, AS (2011). Domestic violence and information and communication technologies. Computer Interaction, 23, 413-421.
- Muñoz, Ria, Marina (2015). Courtesy violence: reality and prevention. (Pyramid)
- Woodlock D. Technology Abuse in Domestic Violence and Harassment. Violence against women. 2017, 23 (5): 584-602. doi: 10.1177 / 1077801216646277
- Picard, P. (2007). Study on the abuse of technology in adolescent relationships. Love is respect.
- Romo-Tobón, Ricardo J., Vázquez-Sánchez, Valeria, Rojas-Solís, José L., & Alvídre, Salvador. (2020). Cyberbullying and Cyberbullying Among Students at Mexican Private Universities. Purposes and representations, 8 (2), 305. https://dx.doi.org/10.20511/pyr2020.v8n2.303