American Sociological Association

Toxic Ties: Networks of Friendship, Dating, and Cyber Victimization

We examine instances of youth cyber aggression, arguing that the close relationships of friendship and romance substantially influence the chances of being targeted. We investigate networks of friendship, dating, and aggression among a sample of 788 eighth- to twelfth-grade students in a longitudinal study of a New York school. Approximately 17 percent reported some involvement in cyber aggression within the past week. LGBTQ youth were targeted at a rate over four times that of their heterosexual peers, and females were more frequent victims than males. Rates of cyber aggression were 4.3 times higher between friends than between friends of friends. According to both an exponential random graph model and a lagged, network MRQAP regression, electronic attacks emerged far more frequently between current or former friends and dating partners, presumably due to competition, revenge, or attempts to fend off romantic rivals.

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Diane Felmlee and Robert Faris





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