The Prevalence of Unwanted Online Sexual Exposure and Solicitation Among Youth: A Meta-Analysis

Sheri Madigan, Vanessa Villani, Corry Azzopardi, Danae Laut, Tanya Smith, Jeffrey Temple, Dillon Browne, Gina Dimitropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The objective of this meta-analysis was to provide a synthesis of studies examining the prevalence of unwanted online exposure and solicitation of a sexual nature among youth, and to determine if prevalence varies by youth age, gender, year of study data collection, or study geographical location. Method: Eligible studies from January 1990 to January 2016 were identified utilizing a comprehensive search strategy. Included studies examined the prevalence of unwanted online exposure and solicitation in youth who ranged from 12 to 16.5years. Two independent coders extracted all relevant data. Random-effects meta-analyses were used to derive mean prevalence rates. Results: Thirty-one (37,649 participants) and nine (18,272 participants) samples were included in the syntheses on unwanted online sexual exposure and solicitation, respectively. For online exposure, the mean prevalence rate was 20.3% (95% confidence interval: 17.1–23.4). For online solicitation, the mean prevalence rate was 11.5% (95% confidence interval: 9.4–13.6). Moderator analyses indicated that prevalence rates for unwanted online exposure and solicitation have decreased over time. Prevalence varied as a function of gender (solicitations were higher for males), but not age or geographical location. Conclusions: Approximately one in five youth experience unwanted online exposure to sexually explicit material and one in nine youth experience online sexual solicitation. Educational campaigns to raise awareness of Internet risks and safety strategies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Adolescent
  • Internet
  • Meta-analysis
  • Solicitation
  • Unwanted exposure to explicit material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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