Risky eBusiness: An Examination of Risk-taking, Online Disclosiveness, and Cyberstalking Victimization

Vol.6,No.1(2012)

Abstract
The expansion of online social networking sites and the relative accessibility to personal information provided by these sites has raised concerns about the risks for a variety of negative experiences, including cyberstalking. The present study investigated whether the theoretical concepts of Routine Activities Theory (RAT) could account for patterns of cyberstalking victimization among social networking site users. The study employed a self-report survey design using a convenience sample of 321 female undergraduate students. RAT was operationalized in the cyber context by measuring the level of online disclosure, frequency of internet use (online exposure) and general proclivity for risk-taking behaviours among participants. Personal experiences of cyberstalking were also assessed. Analyses specifically examined the relationship between RAT variables and cyberstalking outcomes and the extent to which a specific form of guardianship, online disclosiveness, served as a mediator between online activities and the risk for victimization. Online exposure and a proclivity for social risk-taking were associated with cyberstalking victimization. Levels of online disclosure demonstrated a direct positive impact on cyberstalking victimization, however our findings elucidating the role of online disclosure as a guardianship effort mediating the effects of exposure on cyberstalking victimization were mixed.

Keywords:
cyberstalking; routine activity theory; social networking; online disclosure
Author biographies

Andrew Welsh

Author photo Dr. Andrew Welsh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier Brantford). A graduate of the Experimental Psychology and Law Program at Simon Fraser University, he studied under Dr. James R.P. Ogloff. Dr. Welshs recent research has examined media constructions of crime and justice issues, including analyses of violence, gender, and victimization in popular media.

Jennifer A. A. Lavoie

Author photo Dr. Jennifer Lavoie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier Brantford). She completed a Post-Doctoral fellowship at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto where her work focused on examining health and forensic outcomes among homeless Canadians living with mental illness. Her research interests are mental health and justice, forensic psychology, prediction of violence and victimization, stress, coping and resilience, mental health in correctional settings, and quantitative research methods.
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