Participation in social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook is not exposing children to a torrent of sexual victimization or other harrassment, a new study in Pediatrics reports.
The researchers surveyed 1,588 children aged 10 to 15 years old and found that 15 percent experienced an unwanted sexual solicitation over the past year – “defined as unwanted requests to talk about sex, provide personal sexual information, and do something sexual.” Internet harassment was defined as “rude or mean comments, or spreading of rumors.”
- Fifteen percent of all of the youth reported an unwanted sexual solicitation online in the last year; 4% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically.
- Thirty-three percent reported an online harassment in the last year; 9% reported an incident on a social networking site specifically.
- Among targeted youth, solicitations were more commonly reported via instant messaging (43%) and in chat rooms (32%), and harassment was more commonly reported in instant messaging (55%) than through social networking sites (27% and 28%, respectively).
The authors conclude that broad claims about an increased risk of victimization on social networking sites “do not seem justified.”