Asymmetrical third-person effects on the perceptions of online risk and harm among adolescents and adults

Buglass, S.L. ORCID: 0000-0002-1079-8461, Binder, J.F. ORCID: 0000-0002-1083-7109, Betts, L.R. ORCID: 0000-0002-6147-8089 and Underwood, J.D.M. ORCID: 0000-0002-6895-0251, 2020. Asymmetrical third-person effects on the perceptions of online risk and harm among adolescents and adults. Behaviour and Information Technology. ISSN 0144-929X

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Although research has identified a range of opportunities, risks, and harms related to online social networking, the public debate on online risks follows a set pattern by which members of older age groups (parents, regulators) hold a picture of members of younger age groups (teenagers, digital natives) at a uniformly high level of risk. Perceptions of online risk, however, are prone to third-person effects in which individuals perceive risks to be more apparent in others than themselves. This study investigated third-person effects across age groups to further our understanding of the set positions found in current public debate. Multivariate analysis was used to compare adolescent and adult users' personal and third-person perceptions of common psycho-social risks associated with social networking engagement in a sample of 506 UK-based Facebook users (53% male; 13–77 years). Results indicated that rates of exposure to online vulnerabilities were similar for both age groups. However, differences in adult and adolescent perceptions of risk highlighted apparent mismatches between reported exposure to risk and an individual's perceptions, with adults demonstrating lower personal perceptions and higher third-person perceptions of risk than their adolescent counterparts. The research considers the implications of risk perception on an individual's online vulnerability.

Item Type: Journal article
Alternative Title: Perceptions of online risk and harm [running head]
Publication Title: Behaviour and Information Technology
Creators: Buglass, S.L., Binder, J.F., Betts, L.R. and Underwood, J.D.M.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Date: 17 March 2020
ISSN: 0144-929X
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 24 Mar 2020 09:29
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:05

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