When parents attempt to turn their child against each other after divorce or separation, it could be parental alienation. While abuse like this is not new, some of the methods parents use to engage in it look different than they did a generation ago due largely to technology.
Digital shaming and reframing
A parent may turn online to manipulate how their children – and others – see their ex. Some ways they might do this include:
- Sharing embarrassing or misleading videos
- Posting sensitive information about their ex
- Fabricating stories and making false allegations on social media
- Creating fake profiles or accounts using an ex’s information
- Leaving hurtful, untrue, or abusive comments on an ex’s page or profile
These methods of manipulation can be effortless for a bitter, abusive parent to carry out; all they need is their phone or computer and the time to sign online.
While you may not follow your ex on social media or have any access to their online behaviours, you can keep an eye out for what your child might see.
You could block social media sites and restrict searches depending on your child’s age. You could also monitor their email and other online accounts to ensure your ex isn’t sending them material to manipulate them.
Using tech to track you or your child
An alienating parent could also use technology to surveil you or keep tabs on your child. They might:
- Put a tracking device in your child’s belongings when they go to your house
- Repeatedly call or text your child to disrupt your parenting time
- Hide a GPS on your car
- Install a spyware app on your phone or computer
- Have your child record you or leave their phone on so your ex can listen in on your parenting time
Parents engaging in digital behaviours like this often hope to make themselves look like the better parent and turn a child against the other parent. These tactics have the potential to cause considerable harm to the relationship between a child and parent, not to mention the victim parent’s reputation.
These damages do not go away just by clicking “delete.” They can and do cause long-lasting pain and suffering. As such, it is crucial to be diligent in preventing and stopping this abuse.