From Ignoring Strangers’ Solicitations to Mutual Sexting with Friends: Understanding Youth’s Online Sexual Risks in Instagram Private Conversations
Online sexual risks pose a serious and frequent threat to adolescents’ online safety. While significant work is done within the HCI community to understand teens’ sexual experiences through public posts, we extend their research by qualitatively analyzing 156 private Instagram conversations flagged by 58 adolescents to understand the characteristics of sexual risks faced with strangers, acquaintances, and friends. We found that youth are often victimized by strangers through sexual solicitation/harassment as well as sexual spamming via text and visual media, which is often ignored by them. In contrast, adolescents’ played mixed roles with acquaintances, as they were often victims of sexual harassment, but sometimes engaged in sexting, or interacted by rejecting sexual requests from acquaintances. Lastly, adolescents were never recipients of sexual risks with their friends, as they mostly mutually participated in sexting or sexual spamming. Based on these results, we provide our insights and recommendations for future researchers. Trigger Warning: This paper contains explicit language and anonymized private sexual messages. Reader discretion advised.