Cyberstalking – the prevalence and motivations of young people who engage in online pursual behaviours

Investigating the prevalence and motivations of young people who engage in cyberstalking.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Sophia Malik
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

With 4.9 billion people using the Internet and 4.2 billion active users of social media (Statista, 2022), it is arguably inevitable that unsavoury behaviours occur online.

It is therefore vital to understand how social interactions are manifested online and use that knowledge to develop policies and practices to protect Internet users. 

One group that has a particularly strong presence online is young people (Ofcom, 2021). Social media use is so pertinent among young people, that it is now considered an important element of development for young people as they engage in interactions and form their identities offline and online (Bartsch & Subrahmanyam, 2015; Subrahmanyam & Šmahel, 2011). However, concerns have been raised about the potential adverse 
effects related to such extensive use of the internet and social media. One area of interest is cyberstalking and online pursuit.

In this study, online pursuit behaviours refer to repetitive unwanted contact and/or harassment that is conducted using social media and online platforms.

Several studies have revealed varying rates of unwanted online pursuit among young people (Kalaitzaki, 2020; Paullet and others, 2009; Reyns and others, 2012; Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002). Many researchers have investigated the prevalence of online pursual and the experiences of victims, however, there is a significant gap in the existing literature about the motivations of the perpetrators. Considering the relevance of online pursuit among young people, it is vital to the development of practices and education to understand what motivates individuals to engage in such behaviours.

This study aims to research the prevalence and motivations of young people who perpetrate online pursual. 

Research methodology

Participants will be young people aged 16 to 25 years. The sample size will be 50-100 participants and data is being collected through an online survey. 

Data will be analysed using SPSSS and correlations and possibly multiple regressions will be run. 

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