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“Someone wants to connect with you”: Predicting Uruguayan kids’ replies to online friendship requests

Dodel, Matías, Menese, Pablo and Trajtenberg, Nicolas ORCID: 2021. “Someone wants to connect with you”: Predicting Uruguayan kids’ replies to online friendship requests. Global Studies of Childhood 11 (4) , pp. 344-357. 10.1177/20436106211027576

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Childhood and adolescence are critical periods for human development, involving an inherent tension between children’s development and autonomy and their safety and well-being. The digital mediation of children’s increasingly autonomous participation in the social world has been one of the most heated issues for parents and policy maker, generally guided more by intuitions and moral panics than actual evidence on children’s online behavior. Based on a representative sample of all Uruguayan kids between 9 and 17 years old (Kids Online Uruguay, N = 948), this article contributes to the understanding of contact-related online behavior by studying how children react to online friendship requests. Ordinal logistic models were fitted to study the factors predicting different responses to friendship requests based on the strength of the ties between the child and the friendship requester. Our model integrates predictors deriving from three sets of literatures. We found that differences in responses to friendship requests are significantly impacted by predictors deriving from computer mediated communications, self-efficacy and digital inequalities studies. Contrary to popular beliefs, most Uruguayan children report only accepting requests if they previously know the requester. Nonetheless, older and more digitally skilled children have particularly higher chances to accept requests from individuals with weaker or non-preexistent ties; but also, boys, children having preexistent episodes of offline risky behaviors and problems related to an excessive use of the Internet. Policy implications are discussed based on simulations of the chances of different types of responses, focusing on the need to contemplate both the risk and benefits involved in different types of digital social interactions according to children’s diverse developmental stages.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Symposium Journals
ISSN: 2043-6106
Date of Acceptance: 27 June 2021
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 10:06

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