Are Social Networking Sites a Source of Online Harassment for Teens? Evidence from Survey Data
Media reports on incidences of abuse on the internet, particularly amongst teenagers, are growing at an alarming rate causing much concern among parents of teenagers and legislations aimed at regulating internet use among teenagers. Past studies have found that one in five youth were exposed to sexual solicitation, one in seventeen were harassed or threatened and only a fraction reported these cases while more than 63% reported being upset, embarrassed or stressed as a result of these unwanted contacts. Social networking sites (SNS) have been blamed to be a major source of harassment for teen users. Despite several media reports, there is a serious paucity of research in this area that explicitly identifies risk factors that make teens prone to internet abuse, and strategies for prevention and intervention. This study examines the extent to which internet use and having SNS site memberships result in incidences of stranger contact and online harassment for teens in the United States. We also determine the characteristics of teens that make them more likely to be victims of online harassment. Using parental background information, we also seek to shed light on the relationship between parental awareness and teen abuse on the internet. We use 2006 round of Pew Internet™ American Life Survey for this study. Since data on social networking has been collected fairly recently and we do not have any past information, the limitation of this study is that we cannot draw causal links between internet use and online harassment.
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