229775 Using Social Networking Sites to Explore Cyberabuse among U.S. Women

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Sloane C. Burke, PhD, CHES , Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Ashley Walker, PhD, CHES , Community Health Program, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO
Jody Early, PhD, MS, CHES , College of Health Sciences, Walden University, Minneapolis, MN
Alice Yick-Flanagan, PhD , Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Capella University, Minneapolis, MN
Latest data from Internet World Stats and a 2009 Nielson report indicate that 74% of North Americans are internet users, and 2/3 of these internet users participate in some kind of social network (i.e. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Social networks and mobile technology enable individuals to connect instantaneously or asynchronously, across geographic boundaries or locally, and publically or anonymously. Consequently, this shift has led to a new form of interpersonal violence known as cyberabuse. Few studies exploring cyberabuse exist, primarly 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 abuse 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 and 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 abuse reported feeling anxious and one- fifth indicated they noticed changes in their sleeping and eating patterns and feeling helpless as a result of the harassment. Implications and recommended strategies for health education and personal safety in the online environment will be shared.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session the participants will be able to: explore the phenomenon of cyber abuse and its prevalence among women who actively participate on social networking sites identify women's online behaviors that may put them more at risk for cyber abuse discuss strategies for program development that may lead to safety prevention in the online environment.

Keywords: Women's Health, World Wide Web

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 10 years research experience in women's health and intimate partner abuse.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.