OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were (1) to investigate the prevalence and development of both online (OnSRB) and offline sexual risk behavior (OffSRB) in adolescence, (2) to establish whether OnSRBs and OffSRBs are related, and (3) to identify risk factors that determine problematic pathways of OnSRB and OffSRB.
METHODS: A 4-wave longitudinal study with 1762 Dutch adolescents aged 12 to 18 was conducted (mean age, T1 = 14.52, 49% girls). By using group-based modeling, developmental pathways for OnSRB and OffSRB were identified and the relationship between both behaviors over time was examined.
RESULTS: Substantial intraindividual differences in the development of OnSRB and OffSRB were found. The analysis revealed 3 developmental pathways of OnSRB: no risk (70.2%), moderate risk (23.7%), and high risk (6.1%). For OffSRB, we identified a no risk (90.6%) and an increasing pathway (9.4%). OnSRBs and OffSRBs were related and had common predictors (ie, sensation seeking, low educational level, gender).
CONCLUSIONS: Only a minority of adolescents shows sustained high OnSRB. This group is likely to consist of low-educated, high-sensation-seeking adolescents who spend more time communicating on the Internet and come from less cohesive families. These same adolescents are also more likely to engage in OffSRB. Preventions should focus on these adolescents.
- APP —
- average posterior probabilities
- BIC —
- Bayesian Information Criterion
- OffSRB —
- offline sexual risk behavior
- OnSRB —
- Online sexual risk behavior
- Accepted August 9, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics