National trends in exposure to and experiences of violence on the Internet among children

Research Project: Growing Up With Media

Ybarra ML, Mitchell KJ, Korchmaros JD. National trends in exposure to and experiences of violence on the Internet among children. Pediatrics. 2011;128(6):e1376-1386. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0118

OBJECTIVE:  To examine rates of technology-based violent experiences (eg, bullying, harassment, unwanted sexual experiences [USEs] perpetration, and victimization) and exposures (eg, hate sites) from 2006 to 2008 among US children.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: One thousand five-hundred eighty-eight youth aged 10 to 15 years were surveyed nationally online in 2006, 2007 (76% follow-up rate), and 2008 (73% follow-up rate).

RESULTS:  All other things equal, rates of Internet-based violent exposures and experiences were stable. Of exception, harassment perpetration and exposure to violent cartoon sites reduced by 26% and 36% over the 2 year period (P < 0.05), respectively. In contrast, several rates of violent experiences via text messaging increased over time, specifically: harassment victimization (aOR = 1.6, p = 0.001) and perpetration (aOR = 1.4, p = 0.03), and USE victimization (aOR = 1.9, p = 0.02). Increases in bullying victimization were suggested (aOR = 1.5, p = 0.06). Text messaging USE perpetration did not significantly change, however. General technology use (i.e., intensity and frequency of Internet and text messaging) was consistently influential in explaining the odds of almost all violent experiences and exposures both online and via text messaging; as was age for many exposures and experiences online.

CONCLUSIONS: Ongoing surveillance of text-messaging-based experiences is needed to understand trends as population usage rates begin to stabilize. General technology use is a predictive factor for almost all technology-based violent experiences and exposures. Age is also influential in explaining involvement in Internet-based experiences and exposures. Prevention programs should focus on reducing risk as youth age into later adolescence and to help heavy technology users manage their risk for violence involvement.

PubMed ID: 22106074 

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