Are social networking sites a source of online harassment for teens? Evidence from survey data
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Internet technology has provided social networking sites (SNS) like MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn and others in addition to instant messaging and online chat rooms as means to contact friends, acquaintances and socialize over the internet. SNS have become increasingly popular among teenagers (Mishna, Saini, & Soloman, 2009) and are also potential vehicles for adolescents to engage in risky and destructive behaviors (Duncan, 2008).
The internet has been an outlet for teens to share information with one another but some times they twist the game around and use it in a negative way.
It is commonly believed that social networking sites serve as a hub for sex offenders and cyber-bullies. This study, based on survey data of teens in the age bracket of 12 to 17 years fails to establish a strong empirical support to this widely held belief. This study rather finds support for the view that online attitudes and behaviors of teens, including the amount of information they disclose in the public domain, the way they use the internet (privately or publicly) and the manner in which they interact with people online play a key role in determining whether they eventually become victims to online harassment and cyber-bullying.
Whether or not you believe that cyberbullying and harassment can happen to you determines how safely you use the internet and what you choose to do with it.
The results suggest that teens that use their computers privately and away from their parent's watchful eyes are more likely to be bullied. Installing a monitoring system in the computers does not seem to have any significant association with the likelihood of being harassed or bullied for those who access SNS. These results emphasize the importance of parents' interaction with their teenage children.
Children that hide their internet lives from their parents are more likely to be bullied because sometimes kids don't know what to do with too much freedom.
One of the key determinants that may result in internet abuse is the online behavior of teen users and the information they disclose in their online profile. This primarily consists of their personal information (name, address, school name, city and state, cell or home phone number, and instant messenger id) and pictures of themselves or their friends.
Depending on what you post on the internet can lead to whether you do or do not get cyberbullied. If you don't disclose too much information about yourself there isn't much that someone can poke fun at, but if you post your entire life on the internet for everyone to see then the possibilities are endless.
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