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Coping Strategies and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Victims of Cyberstalking: A Questionnaire Survey in an Italian Sample

Department of Psychology, Università di Torino Via Verdi, 10-10124 Torino, Italy
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Future Internet 2020, 12(8), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/fi12080136
Received: 28 July 2020 / Revised: 10 August 2020 / Accepted: 11 August 2020 / Published: 12 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Cybercrime Detection)
Aims: In the last decade, the use of smartphones, computers and devices has progressively increased, and prolonged use of technology and the internet has generated new arenas (and tools) for victimization. The first aim of this study was to analyze the use of coping strategies in young adult self-declared victims of cyberstalking. The coping strategies were categorized as proactive behavior, avoidance tactics and passivity. To better understand these strategies, they were analyzed in light of the experience of victimization in terms of incurred misconduct. The second aim was to analyze the coping strategies and the consequences (in terms of depression and anxiety) that occurred in victims; a comparison was made between males and females. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to over 433 young adults living in Italy. The questionnaires were filled out by 398 (92%) subjects, 41% males and 59% females. Their ages ranged from 18 to 30 years (M = 23.5, SD = 2.76). Respondents took part on a voluntary basis and did not receive any compensation (or extra credit) for their participation. Results: Findings from this investigation confirmed that among victims, females were more prone than males to experience cyberstalking (respectively, 65% and 35%), with females experiencing a higher percentage of more than one form of cyberstalking behavior than males. Young adult male victims used the internet principally for online gaming, and for this activity, they experienced more cyberstalking behavior than females. In most cases, the perpetrator was a male, and the victim–cyberstalker relationship was a friendship or an acquaintance. For the coping strategies adopted, the findings indicated that the victims were more prone to use avoidance tactics than proactivity behavior and passivity strategies. Young adults involved in this investigation mainly used avoidance tactics to cope with the stressful situation, which implies that they preferred to decrease the use of the internet or stop online contact than collect evidence and try to contact and reason with the cyberstalker or increase the misuse of alcohol of psychotropic substances. Moreover, females were less prone to use proactive behavior than expected. Our findings suggested that males were more prone than females to adopt passivity strategies, while females were more prone to adopt avoidance tactics. Moreover, the data showed that proactivity behavior was adopted more in the case of online contacts and online identity fraud, while passivity strategies were adopted in the case of online threats. Conclusion: Findings from this investigation show the importance of improving the knowledge about the coping strategies that could be suggested to victims and the impact on their psychological health. View Full-Text
Keywords: coping strategies; cyberstalking; young adults; harassment; gender difference; depression; anxiety coping strategies; cyberstalking; young adults; harassment; gender difference; depression; anxiety
MDPI and ACS Style

Begotti, T.; Bollo, M.; Acquadro Maran, D. Coping Strategies and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Victims of Cyberstalking: A Questionnaire Survey in an Italian Sample. Future Internet 2020, 12, 136. https://doi.org/10.3390/fi12080136

AMA Style

Begotti T, Bollo M, Acquadro Maran D. Coping Strategies and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Victims of Cyberstalking: A Questionnaire Survey in an Italian Sample. Future Internet. 2020; 12(8):136. https://doi.org/10.3390/fi12080136

Chicago/Turabian Style

Begotti, Tatiana, Martina Bollo, and Daniela Acquadro Maran. 2020. "Coping Strategies and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms in Young Adult Victims of Cyberstalking: A Questionnaire Survey in an Italian Sample" Future Internet 12, no. 8: 136. https://doi.org/10.3390/fi12080136

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