Identifying risky Internet use: Associating negative online experience with specific online behaviours

14 April 2020

Experiencing negative outcomes online is increasingly common, with more people active online and the continued presence of aggressive online behaviours. This study sought to uncover the underlying factor structure of negative online consequences. It investigated how experiencing negative outcomes is associated with engaging in specific online activities. Australian adult Internet users (N = 1773, mean age = 42.5 years, 54.8% female) completed an online survey. An underlying factor structure was identified with subgroups of negative outcomes identified relating to hacking/identity theft, abuse/harassment, non-targeted scams and targeted scams. Victimisation was associated with engagement with online pornography and forums; use of multiple discussion forums, dating, and gaming sites; and expenditure on gaming, dating and pornography sites. Results suggest that overall Internet involvement does not predict victimisation, but specific activities are linked to certain harms. This research creates a framework to inform policy and practice to minimise online victimisation and guide ongoing research.