The Impact of Adolescent Internet Addiction on Sexual Online Victimization: The Mediating Effects of Sexting and Body Self-Esteem
Peris Hernández, Montserrat
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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(8) : (2021) // Article ID 4226
Adolescents’ problematic use of the internet and the risk of sexual online victimization are an increasing concern among families, researchers, professionals and society. This study aimed to analyze the interplay between adolescents’ addiction to social networks and internet, body self-esteem and sexual–erotic risk behavior online: sexting, sextortion and grooming. While sexting refers to the voluntary engagement in texting sexual–erotic messages, sextortion and grooming are means of sexual–erotic victimization through the use of the internet. Participants were 1763 adolescents (51% girls), aged 12 to 16 years (M = 14.56; SD = 1.16), from public (n = 1068; 60.60%) and private (n = 695; 39.40%) high schools in the Basque Country (Spain). We carried out structural equation modeling (SEM) using Mplus to assess the mediating effects of body self-esteem in the relationship between addiction to social media and internet and sexual–erotic risk behavior. The results showed that internet addiction predicts online sexual victimization; specifically, the best predictors of sexting, sextortion and grooming victimization were symptoms of internet addiction and geek behavior. Body self-esteem and sexting mediated the relationship between internet addiction and sexual online victimization in adolescents. These results highlight the importance of attending to adolescents’ mental health regarding their online behavior, considering the risk and protective factors involved, due to its close association with online sexual victimization.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).