Purpose: The purpose of this research was to explore the trends in youth reports of unwanted online sexual solicitation, harassment, and exposure to pornography over time.
Methods: The study was based on three separate cross-sectional national telephone surveys of approximately 1,500 youth Internet users, aged 10 through 17 years. Data were collected in 2000, 2005, and 2010.
Results and conclusion: Nine percent of youth reported an unwanted sexual solicitation in 2010. This continued the decline in unwanted sexual solicitations that occurred between 2000 (19%) and 2005 (13%), resulting in a total 50% decrease between 2000 and 2010. Twenty-three percent of youth reported an unwanted exposure to pornography, a decline from 34% in 2005, following an increase between 2000 and 2005 (25% to 34%). However, marking the only trend to show an increase over the past 5 years, 11% of youth reported an online harassment experience, which was an increase from 9% in 2005, and 6% in 2000. Some differences in these trends were noted for subgroups of youth across age, gender, and race. The trends in unwanted experiences online over the past decade identified by three Youth Internet Safety Surveys may contradict impressions that the general population, professionals, and the media have about what is happening. Trends provide evidence for some optimism that protective adaptations to the online environment have been successful; however, online harassment appears to be increasing for youth, particularly girls, and may require additional mobilization.
Copyright © 2012 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.