Since there is still a need for a better understanding of how adolescents use the internet and their susceptibility to exposure to risks in the online space, we conducted a cross-sectional online survey of a convenience sample of 733 8th and 9th grade students in Utah, using questions regarding students’ exposure to three types of online risk scenarios: content risk, contact risk, and criminal risk.
In the last decade, readily available electronic devices have created unprecedented opportunities for teens to access a wide variety of information and media–both positive and negative–on the internet. Despite the increasing number of initiatives taking place worldwide intended to assess and mitigate the online risks encountered by children and adolescents, there is still a need for a better understanding of how adolescents use the internet and their susceptibility to exposure to risks in the online space. Independent variables included students’ online behaviors, use of social media and private messaging apps, and adult supervision of online activities. Logistic and negative binomial regression models indicated that gender, social media use, and chatting with strangers were associated with exposure to multiple risky online scenarios. Our results provide critical information to educators involved in the development of initiatives focusing on the reduction of youth online risk by identifying correlates of risky online events, allowing them to tailor their initiatives to meet the needs of potentially vulnerable populations. (Publisher Abstract Provided)