Female adolescents and sexual behaviors on the Internet
The Internet is a widely used tool today. The accessibility of a World Wide Web, has brought great opportunities. However, the use of the Internet by teenagers has been a topic of fear and concern by many educators, parents, and law enforcement officers. Researchers have found as many as 84% of youth use the Internet (Albon and Williams, 2002). This raises questions about their reasons for using the Internet and the dangers which may be present online. The accessibility of pornography on the Internet (Baker, 2002) and the potential danger of pedophiles contacting children on the Internet are well documented (Fontana-Rosa, J.C., 2001, Bremer, J. and Rauch, P.K., 1998).
Social isolation (Mesch, 2001), low self-confidence (McKenna, et al., 2001) and family conflict (Mesch, 2003) may increase online relationships, especially for females who have been more likely to form close online relationships (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2002) and participate in cybersex online (Cooper, Morahan-Martin, Mathy, & Maheu (2002).
This retrospective quantitative study utilized Ecosystemic theory to examine the online relationships of college females ages 18 to 25. They were asked to respond as they would have during adolescence. Consent forms were signed prior to involvement in the study and anonymity was ensured.
This dissertation suggests that girls are more susceptible to sexual behaviors online and examined how this affects their offline sexuality. The researcher found that females who spent more time in chat rooms were more likely to provide their addresses and phone numbers online, which presumable makes them more vulnerable to sexual predators. However, there did not appear to be one particular personality factor leading to increased sexual behaviors online. Female adolescents may be equally susceptible. Therefore, it is important that all teens are monitored online, but parents may be reassured by the finding that involvement in online sexual activity does not necessarily lead to increased offline sexual behavior.
0620: Developmental psychology
0708: Mass media