Friendship, Dating & Cyberbullying in University Students

Tina Daniels & Alyssa Bonneville, Psychology Dept., Carleton University

Did you know that adolescents and young adults are most at risk of becoming a target of cyberbullying and/or excessive monitoring perpetrated by their friends and dating partners? The rates of such behaviour have been found to be seven times greater between those with a previous relationship compared to those who were never friends or intimate partners (Felmlee & Faris, 2016). Although this type of cyber abuse is often taken for granted and considered normal it is intimate partner violence and the emotional effects can be devastating! It can affect grades, mental health and relationships with others (Mishna et al., 2018). Those targeted report more suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than those who have not been cybervictimized (Hinduja and Patchin 2010). Acknowledging and addressing cyber-aggression is an important way to improve the mental health and wellbeing of university students who are experiencing these acts.


If your partner is stalking you online, following your posts, wants access to your phone or is excessively monitoring your whereabouts using an online app, don’t make excuses for them or tell yourself that you are overreacting. They may say this is a sign of love, or to keep you safe, but these are acts of control. Recognize what is happening and tell someone you trust so that you have a support person. Identify the problem. Name what is going on between you and your partner. If you are in immediate danger dial 911. There is no price for overreacting!

If you are in a relationship where there are high levels of cyberaggression and/or excessive electronic monitoring you can seek support and advice by clicking on the  following link or by calling 613-520-6674 or you can contact the Crisis Line by clicking or by calling 613-722-6914.

Felmlee, D. & Faris, R. (2016). Toxic Ties: Networks of Friendship, Dating, and Cyber Victimization,” Social Psychology Quarterly, 79(3), 243-262.

Hinduja, S and Patchin, J. (2010). Bullying, cyberbullying, and suicide. Journal of the International Academy for Suicide Research 14(3), 206-21. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2010.494133

Mishna, F., Regehr, C., Lacombe-Duncan, A., Daciuk, J., Fearing, G. & Van Wert, M. (2018). Social media, cyber-aggression and student mental health on a university campus. Journal of Mental Health, 27(3), 222-229.