Although perceived online racial discrimination is one of the most common forms of online victimization, few researchers have examined this growing public health concern. One of the first to explore this phenomenon, the PI and colleagues developed the Online Victimization Scale (Tynes, Giang, &Williams, 2009) to assess general, sexual and race-related online victimization. Focusing on race-related subscales of the measure, with a sample of 264 diverse 14-18-year-old adolescents, Tynes and colleagues (2008) found perceived online racial discrimination was associated with depression and anxiety symptoms over and above measures of offline racial discrimination and perceived stress. Evidence that offline racial discrimination during early adolescence places youth at increased risk for problem behavior and individuals'likelihood to be victimized in chat rooms and other online contexts at greater frequencies underscores the need to examine perceived online racial discrimination during both early and mid-adolescence. Recent qualitative and mixed methods studies of the nature of race on the Internet and online racial discrimination have often focused on website and online community discourse rather than individuals. These methods do not permit examination of individual and contextual factors that may heighten risk and buffer against online victimization-associated negative psychological outcomes. Rapid psychological and social changes and frequent shifts in youth Internet activities also suggest a need for a longitudinal, mixed methods design. Survey and qualitative interview data would enhance understanding of the nature of online racial discrimination, its antecedents, psychological correlates and adolescent coping strategies used to deal with these experiences. The study has four core aims, to: (1) Examine the nature and frequency of perceived online racial discrimination, how it differs from discrimination in offline contexts and across racial/ethnic groups, age and time;(2) Determine the risk of first exposure to online racial discrimination;(3) Test and refine an integrative model of the effects of online racial discrimination;and (4) Qualitatively assess online racial discrimination to better characterize the antecedents, nature and perceived consequences of online versus offline experiences. The Teen Life Online and in Schools Project is proposed to address these aims. Online survey data will be collected at three time points over three years from a sample of 1000 African American, Latino and White 11- 16 year-old adolescents drawn from a major Midwestern metro area and outlying communities. One hundred participants will also be randomly selected to be interviewed via Instant Messenger. The proposed research will advance theoretical models of the Internet's role in the lives of the first generation raised with and sometimes by interactive media, and has translational value to inform Internet policies for schools and families as well as intervention and prevention programs.

Public Health Relevance

This study aims to examine the nature and frequency of online racial discrimination, a common form of online victimization that has to date received scant attention in research literature. It will identify risk and protective factors associated with race-related victimization and psychological adjustment. Ultimately, the proposed research will advance theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of online victimization, inform Internet policies as well as intervention and prevention programs for schools and families.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Esposito, Layla E
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University of Southern California
Schools of Education
Los Angeles
United States
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