Journal article Open Access

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants: Exploring Online Harassment Victimization by Generational Age

Logan Hans Stickel

K. Jaishankar

This exploratory study of online harassment in adult populations uses the sociological concept of generational age to examine theoretical contentions related to the formative effects of early life experiences with computer-mediation technologies on victimization. Utilizing an adaptive online survey, a total of 236 responses were collected through social networking sampling on Facebook and LinkedIn, measuring perceptions of reported incidents and routine online interactions to understand age-based victimization factors. Data were analyzed with a binary generational age macro variable to thematize measures, classifying respondents born on or after 1985 as digital natives and those prior as digital immigrants. Although statistical associative testing revealed that there was little generational division in most measured concepts, psychological stress levels and social networking site use frequency were demonstrated to be significantly related and have verifiable corollaries. Digital immigrants were more likely to report high psychological stress levels in victimizations and less frequent daily usage of social networking than digital natives, suggesting communicational interpretations more defined by proximal, face-to-face messaging. Nevertheless, although there are limitations given the exploratory nature of this study, the findings suggest that generational age and technological familiarity may determine interpretations of online victimization.

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