Monday, January 25, 2016

Help, I Am Losing Control! Examining the Reporting of Sexual Harassment by Adolescents to Social Networking Sites

Sexual harassment is often encountered by adolescents on social networking sites (SNS). One option to cope with a situation of harassment on SNS is to alarm the provider by reporting the transgressive content. It is yet unclear what the determinants of reporting a sexual harassment situation on SNS are, as well as the subsequent actions to these reports from the part of the SNS provider. 

In this article, we seek to address these gaps, and in particular examine whether control-by-the-self over the situation and negative emotions play a role in the reporting of sexual harassment on SNS. Findings indicate that a low situational control-by-the-self, indirectly (namely through a higher experience of negative emotions such as anger and shame) increases the reporting of sexual harassment by the victim. Public visibility of the incident and the impossibility to remove the content reduce the situational control-by-the-self. 

Results further suggest that SNS providers often ignore reported situations of sexual harassment. The study concludes with suggestions for responses to reported harassment on SNS, which should be directed toward increasing behavioral control and thereby alleviating negative emotions.

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  • 1Department of Communication Studies, University of Antwerp , Antwerp, Belgium .
  •  2016 Jan;19(1):16-22. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0168.

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