Receiving online sexual requests and producing online sexual images: The multifaceted and dialogic nature of adolescents' online sexual interactions

Special issue: Internet and Sexuality

This article describes the prevalence of receiving online sexual requests and producing online sexual images among adolescents, thereby focusing on the differences between problematic and non-problematic incidences. Data was used from a national survey conducted in 2011 among 4453 Dutch adolescents (51.2 % male), aged from 11 to 18 (M = 13.9, SD = 1.48). Results indicated that receiving sexual requests is quite common and that producing sexual images is relatively rare. From adolescents’ perspective most of the incidences were non-problematic. Negative experiences were more likely to occur when adolescents interacted with people they did not know and when an intrinsic motivation for engaging in sexual interaction was missing. There was a strong relation between bothersome experiences and being cyberbullied. Adolescents with a higher level of online disinhibition and with low self-control were more likely to engage in both sexual communications as well as in sexting. Identifying which incident characteristics and characteristics of adolescents are related to problematic online sexual interactions is a prerequisite to design more personalized tools for vulnerable adolescents.

adolescents; sexual interactions; sexting; risk factors; characteristics
Author biographies

Joyce Kerstens

Author photo Joyce Kerstens (1965, the Netherlands) studied Social Sciences and graduated in 1995. After her graduation she worked as a researcher/consultant at B&A in The Hague and at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Since 2005, Joyce Kerstens is a senior researcher at the Cybersafety Research Group (NHL University and Police Academy). Her research activities focus on policy and evaluation research in the field of safety and security. She conducted research on the effects of CCTV on public safety. She also studied the technological and juridical implications of governmental filtering of websites with child pornographic content. Currently, she is a PhD-candidate and project manager of a national four-year research project on Youth and Cybersafety. The purpose of this research is to identify various risk factors related to cyber bullying, online sexual activities and online financial crime.

Wouter Stol

Author photo Wouter Stol (1958, the Netherlands) has been working as a chief of police in Amsterdam until 1992. Between 1984 and 1989, he studied Sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Between 1992 and 1995, he was a researcher at the Free University (Amsterdam), completing a PhD thesis on police patrol work and the use of information technology. In 1995 he started working at In-pact, a consultancy in the field of police and ICT, where he conducted research on law enforcement and ICT, police management and policing youth. In 2000 he and his team were transferred to the Police Academy. Currently, Wouter Stol is professor in Cybersafety at NHL University and the Police Academy and professor in Police Studies at the Open University. His main research theme is ‘safety and ICT’.

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