Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

E-Safety in the Use of Social Networking Apps by Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning

E-Safety in the Use of Social Networking Apps by Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Article excerpt


Following the widespread use of social networking applications (SNAs) by children, adolescents, and young adults, The study sought to examine from their point of view (a) Characteristics of SNA usage; (b) the e-safety of SNA; (c) gender differences between age groups; (d) habits of use; (e) hazards and solutions; and (f) sharing with parents and parental control.


Safety has become a major issue and relates to a range of activities including online privacy, cyberbullying, exposure to violent content, exposure to content that foments exclusion and hatred, contact with strangers online, and coarse language. Cyberbullying is defined as an activity aimed at harming another person by means of verbal or visual messages, using video, audio, and software programs (Genachowski, McDowell, Copps, Clyburn, & Baker, 2009; Livingstone & Gorzig, 2014; Livingstone & Smith, 2014; Ringrose, Harvey, Gill & Livingstone, 2013). The common forms are harassment, flaming, denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, exclusion, cyber stalking, cyber threats, the spreading of viruses, attacks against websites, breaking into computers, and more (Genachowski et al., 2009; Livingstone & Gorzig, 2014; Livingstone & Smith, 2014; Ringrose et al., 2013; Zilka, 2017, 2018a, 2018b).

Social Networking Apps (SNAs), such as WhatsApp and Facebook, are the most popular online apps used by Children and adolescents (Alexa Internet Inc., 2011; Knight & Weedon, 2014; Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010; Miller, 2008; Stevens, Gilliard-Matthews, Dunaev, Woods, & Brawner, 2016; Zilka, 2016). The fabric of our social interactions has recently extended to integrate SNAs, which are now widely used as a medium for communication and networking (Boyd, 2014; Brettel, Reich, Gavilanes, & Flatten, 2015; Valkenburg & Peter, 2009). SNAs allow people to connect with each other and to form new connection interactions (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Sheldon, 2008). According to estimates, 81% of online teenagers use social media sites (Madden et al., 2014).

The number of children and youths using social networks is on the rise. Children report spending about 39 hours/month online (Norton Online Living Report, 2009), and although young people use the Internet for both instrumental and communication purposes, the latter is particularly salient in their lives (Dowdell, Burgess, & Flores, 2011; Subrahmanyam & Greenfield, 2008; Zhang & Leung, 2014). By 2006, more than 90% of American teenagers (ages 12 to 17) were using the Internet, and 55% of them reported that they surfed social networking sites (Lenhart, Madden, & Smith, 2007).


Do children supplement face-to-face communication with online communication? Livingstone (2008) invited children to compare communication online and offline, finding that, for 50% of 11-16 year old internet users across Europe, it is a bit or even much easier to be themselves on the internet than face-to-face; further, 45% say they talk about different things on the internet than when speaking to people face-to-face, and 32% say that on the internet they talk about private things which they do not share with people face-to-face. For most children, then, face-to-face and online communication are not especially distinct, but for up to half, the internet offers possibilities for more varied, intimate or authentic communication--something qualitative research shows that teenagers especially can find difficult to manage in face-to-face situations.

As social creatures, individuals aspire to a sense of belonging to a social group, in order to gain recognition and affection from others. Interpersonal relationships play an important role in satisfying these basic human needs (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Maslow, 1943). …

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