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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Feb;17(2):61-7. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0231. Epub 2013 Oct 9.

Cyberstalking in a large sample of social network users: prevalence, characteristics, and impact upon victims.

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1
Central Institute of Mental Health , Mannheim, Germany .

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of cyberstalking victimization, characteristics of victims and offenders, and the impact of cyberstalking on the victims' well-being and mental health. An online survey of 6,379 participants was carried out, involving users of the German social network StudiVZ. Subjective mental health status was assessed with the WHO-5 well-being index. The prevalence of cyberstalking was estimated at 6.3%. In various aspects, cyberstalking was comparable to offline stalking: cyberstalking occurred most often in the context of ex-partner relationships; most of the victims were female and the majority of the perpetrators were male. Compared to non-victims, victims of cyberstalking scored significantly poorer on the WHO-5 well-being index. The prevalence of cyberstalking is considerable. However, if stringent definition criteria comparable to those of offline stalking are applied, it is not a mass phenomenon. The negative impact of cyberstalking on the victims' well-being appears similar to that of offline stalking. Hence, cyberstalking should be taken as seriously as offline variants of stalking by legal authorities and victim assistance professionals.

PMID:
24106979
DOI:
10.1089/cyber.2012.0231
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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