This study sought to better understand youth exposure to hateful material in the online space by exploring predictors of such exposure, including demographic characteristics (age, gender, and race); academic performance; online behaviors; online disinhibition; risk perception; and parents/guardians’ supervision of online activities.
Today’s youth have extensive access to the internet and frequently engage in social networking activities using various social media platforms and devices. This is a phenomenon that hate groups are exploiting when disseminating their propaganda. The current study implemented a cross-sectional study design, using a paper questionnaire in two high schools in Massachusetts (USA), focusing on students 14 to 19 years old. Logistic regression models were used to study the association between independent variables (demographics, online behaviors, risk perception, parental supervision) and exposure to hate online. Results revealed an association between exposure to hate messages in the online space and time spent online, academic performance, communicating with a stranger on social media, and benign online disinhibition. In this study sample, benign online disinhibition was also associated with students’ risk of encountering someone online that tried to convince them of racist views. This study represents an important contribution to understanding youth’s risk factors for exposure to hateful material online. (Publisher Abstract)