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      Risky online behaviors among adolescents: Longitudinal relations among problematic Internet use, cyberbullying perpetration, and meeting strangers online

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          Background and aims

          This study aims to analyze the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationship between three major risky online behaviors during adolescence: problematic Internet use, cyberbullying perpetration, and meeting strangers online. An additional objective was to study the role of impulsivity–irresponsibility as a possible explanatory variable of the relationships between these risky online behaviors.


          The study sample was 888 adolescents that completed self-report measures at time 1 and time 2 with an interval of 6 months.


          The findings showed a significant cross-sectional relationship between the risky online behaviors analyzed. At the longitudinal level, problematic Internet use at time 1 predicted an increase in the perpetration of cyberbullying and meeting strangers online at time 2. Furthermore, meeting strangers online increased the likelihood of cyberbullying perpetration at time 2. Finally, when impulsivity–irresponsibility was included in the model as an explanatory variable, the relationships previously found remained significant.


          These results extend traditional problem behavior theory during adolescence, also supporting a relationship between different risky behaviors in cyberspace. In addition, findings highlighted the role of problematic Internet use, which increased the chances of developing cyberbullying perpetration and meeting strangers online over time. However, the results suggest a limited role of impulsivity–irresponsibility as an explicative mechanism.


          The findings suggest that various online risk activities ought to be addressed together when planning assessment, prevention and intervention efforts.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Risk Taking in Adolescence: New Perspectives From Brain and Behavioral Science

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            Incidence and correlates of pathological Internet use among college students

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              Online communication among adolescents: an integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks.

              Adolescents far outnumber adults in their use of e-communication technologies, such as instant messaging and social network sites. In this article, we present an integrative model that helps us to understand both the appeal of these technologies and their risks and opportunities for the psychosocial development of adolescents. We first outline how the three features (anonymity, asynchronicity, and accessibility) of online communication stimulate controllability of online self-presentation and self-disclosure among adolescents. We then review research on the risks and opportunities of online self-presentation and self-disclosure for the three components of adolescents' psychosocial development, including identity (self-unity, self-esteem), intimacy (relationship formation, friendship quality, cyberbullying), and sexuality (sexual self-exploration, unwanted sexual solicitation). Existing research suggests several opportunities of online communication, such as enhanced self-esteem, relationship formation, friendship quality, and sexual self-exploration. It also yields evidence of several risks, including cyberbullying and unwanted sexual solicitation. We discuss the shortcomings of existing research, the possibilities for future research, and the implications for educators and health care professionals. Copyright © 2011 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                01 March 2016
                March 2016
                : 5
                : 1
                : 100-107
                [1 ] Autonomous University of Madrid , Madrid, Spain
                [2 ] University of Deusto , Bilbao, Spain
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Manuel Gámez-Guadix; Autonomous University of Madrid, Campus of Cantoblanco, Madrid, Spain; Phone: +34-676347428; E-mail: mgamezguadix@
                © 2016 Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 43, Pages: 25
                Funding sources: Funding for this study was provided by Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MEC; Spanish Government) grant PSI2012-31550.
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