Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Identifying Potential Factors of Adolescent Online Victimization for High School Seniors

Academic journal article International Journal of Cyber Criminology

Identifying Potential Factors of Adolescent Online Victimization for High School Seniors

Article excerpt

Introduction

The idea of an electronic global communication system originated from J.C.R. Licklider of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the early 1960s (Licklider & Clark 1962, as cited in Leiner et al. 2003). His "Galactic Network" idea entailed an internationally connected set of computers that allowed for easy accessibility to information. Now known as the Internet, this inter-continental information highway has enabled people of all ages, especially youth, to drastically expand their social circles and improve their ability to communicate with friends and family (Roberts, Foehr, Rideout & Brodie, 1999; Rosenbaum, Altman, Brodie, Flournoy, Blendon, & Benson, 2000). Unfortunately, young Internet users are often unable to participate in online activities without the annoyance of uninvited communication from other online users.

Several studies on the Internet use by youth have found that increasing numbers of young people are experiencing the following types of victimization while using computermediated communication (CMC) methods: (a) unwanted exposure to sexual material, (b) sexual solicitation, and (c) unwanted non-sexual harassment (Mitchell et al., 2003; Mitchell, Finkelhor, & Wolak, 2007; O'Connell et al., 2002; Quayle & Taylor, 2003; Sanger et al., 2004; Wolak et al., 2002; Wolak et al., 2003; Wolak et al., 2004; Wolak et al., 2006; Wolak, Mitchell & Finkelhor, 2007; Ybarra, Mitchell, Finkelhor, & Wolak, 2007). However, majority of these studies are descriptive in nature, thus there is a lack of rigorous research that indicates what online behaviors may increase the likelihood of victimization.

Roncek and Maier (1991) suggested that Routine Activities Theory is excellent for the examination of predatory or exploitative crimes, which is precisely the type of deviant behavior examined in this study. According to the Routine Activities Theory, three elements must be present in order for a crime to occur:

* Exposure to motivated offenders,

* A suitable target, and

* Lack of capable guardianship (Cohen & Felson, 1979).

The purpose of this study was to investigate Internet usage in a sample of college freshmen, and to consider their experiences with online victimization, through variables representing the three constructs of Routine Activities Theory. The study is expected to provide significant contribution to the literature on adolescent online victimization, considering the overall lack of explanatory research on this topic.

Adolescent Internet Use and Victimization

Past empirical research on adolescent Internet use has demonstrated that Internet use by youth has increased drastically in the past 10 years (Addison, 2001; Izenberg & Lieberman, 1998; Lenhart, Rainie, & Lewis, 2001; Nie & Ebring, 2000; Rainie, 2006; United States Department of Commerce, 2002). Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the frequency and purposes of adolescent Internet use (Beebe, Asche, Harrison, & Quinlan, 2004; Lenhart, Rainie & Lewis, 2001; Mitchell, Finkelhor, & Wolak, 2003; United States Department of Commerce, 2002). Research suggests that the rate of Internet use in America is increasing, with adolescents becoming heavier users than adults (Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, & Gross, 2001).

The various mediums of communication available on the Internet have been a contributing factor to increased Internet use (Clemmitt, 2006; Kirkpatrick, 2006; Lamb & Johnson, 2006; Rosen, 2006; Simon, 2006; Stuzman, 2006). The mediums of communication available on the Internet, often referred to collectively as social technology (Lamb and Johnson 2006), have enabled people of all ages (especially youth) to expand their social circles and improve their ability to communicate with friends and family in an inexpensive manner (Roberts, Foeher, Rideout, & Brodie, 1999). Social technology generally refers to computer-mediated communication (CMC) devices that connect people for personal and professional information sharing. …

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