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Universal Journal of Public Health




The number of Internet users around the word is at an all-time high. The majority of North Americans are internet users and over two-thirds participate in some kind of social network (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Social networks and mobile technology enable individuals to connect instantaneously or asynchronously, across geographic boundaries publicly or anonymously. Few studies exploring cyber harassment have been conducted, primarily because these technologies are relatively recent. The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine U.S. women's experiences with and attitudes toward cyber harassment by way of an anonymous electronic survey. A total of 293 adult women (mean age 24.6) recruited from popular social networking sites participated in the research. The majority of participants (58.5%) reported being a student enrolled at a college or university. Close to 20% repeatedly received an unsolicited sexually obscene message and/or sexual solicitation (excluding Spam messages for all categories) on the Internet. More than 10% (11.5%, n = 33) repeatedly received pornographic messages from someone they did not know. More than a third of those who did experience some form of cyber harassment reported feeling anxious. One- fifth indicated they noticed changes in their sleeping and eating patterns as well as feeling helpless because of the harassment. Implications and recommended strategies for health education and personal safety in the online environment are provided.


Copyright © 2015 by authors, all rights reserved. Authors agree that this article remains permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License. Article obtained from the Universal Journal of Public Health.