Social Anxiety and Loneliness in Adults Who Solicit Minors Online

A Schulz, Emilia Bergen, P Schuhmann, J Hoyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examined the association of social anxiety, loneliness, and problematic Internet use (PIU) with the online solicitation of minors. Within a convenience sample of adult Internet users from Germany, Finland, and Sweden (N = 2,828), we compared the responses of participants who had not interacted sexually with strangers online (n= 2,049) with participants who sexually interacted with unknown adults online (n=642), and both groups with adults who sexually solicited unknown minors online (n=137). Online sexual interaction with adults was associated with higher levels of social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU compared with not sexually interacting with strangers online. Sexually soliciting minors online was associated with higher levels of social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU compared with sexually interacting with adults and not sexually interacting with strangers at all. Interestingly, compared with those with adult contacts, loneliness was specifically pronounced for participants who solicited children, whereas social anxiety and PIU were pronounced for participants soliciting adolescents. These findings suggest that social anxiety, loneliness, and PIU may be among the motivators for using the Internet to solicit individuals of different age groups for sexual purposes. These factors emerged as specifically relevant for adults who sexually solicited minors and who reported greater impairments compared with adults who sexually interacted with adults. These characteristics may thus be important to consider for assessment and treatment procedures for individuals soliciting minors online.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)519–540
Number of pages22
JournalSexual Abuse
Volume29
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • online sexual solicitation
  • social anxiety
  • problematic Internet use
  • loneliness

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