Young Adult Perceptions of Internet Communications and the Grooming Concept

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Research of young people shows a lack of understanding of the term grooming in online communications and that internet risks are taken because internet literacy is poor for this group. However, limited research has investigated the perceptions of young adults in this context. The aim of this study was to understand young adults’ perceptions of risk, their internet behaviors, and understanding of the grooming concept. Furthermore, to understand the types of risk behaviors young people engage in online, whether they perceive these behaviors as risky, and what implications this has for vulnerability to negative experiences. An examination of internet communication perceptions and the grooming concept focused on 10 young males and females aged between 18 and 23 years. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at open access youth organizations in the North West of England, UK, and the duration of each interview was approximately 30 min. The data were transcribed and analyzed using thematic analysis. Emergent themes were (a) grooming as a concept, (b) virtual lives, and (c) perception of risk. The findings concur there is limited understanding of the term grooming but that explanations may not be simply confined to literacy. Risks being taken online were not always perceived as risky. Recommendations include the need for a more nuanced definition of the term grooming and that more information is available to children and caregivers. Further work should focus on younger participants’ perceptions of grooming to address wider issues, together with a focus on risk taking behaviors among other vulnerable groups.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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