Online harassment in context: Trends from three youth internet safety surveys (2000, 2005, 2010)



Objective: The current study examines an increase in youth online harassment over the last decade in order to better explore the implications of the trend for prevention initiatives. Method: The Youth Internet Safety Surveys (YISSs) involved 3 cross-sectional, nationally representative telephone surveys of 4,561 youth Internet users, ages 10 to 17, in 2000 (n = 1,501), 2005 (n = 1,500), and 2010 (n = 1,560). Results: The increase in youth online harassment from 6% in 2000 to 11% in 2010 was driven primarily by a rise in indirect harassment-someone posting or sending comments to others about them online. Girls made up an increasing proportion of victims: 69% of victims were girls in 2010 compared with 48% in 2000. Furthermore, in comparison with earlier in the decade, harassment incidents in 2010 were more likely to come from a school friend or acquaintance and occur on a social networking site. Victims reported disclosing harassment incidents to school staff at greater rates in 2010 than in 2005 or 2000. Conclusions: The increase in online harassment can likely be attributed to changes in how youth are using the Internet, especially a disproportional increase in online communication with friends by girls, providing more opportunity for offline peer conflicts to expand to this environment. School-based prevention programs aimed at improving peer relationships and reducing bullying are recommended to reduce online harassment.



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Psychology of Violence


American Psychological Association

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