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A recent UK parliamentary inquiry into online child protection prompted a resurgence of moral panics about children and adolescents’ Internet use, despite the fact that little empirical evidence of actual harm is brought to bear in public and policy discourses. This article makes a key contribution to the field by reviewing the available evidence about the scale and scope of online harms from across a range of disciplines and identifying key obstacles in this research area. The findings are based on a review of 271 empirical studies. We identified three main types of harms: health-related harms as a result of using pro-eating disorders, self-harm or pro-suicide websites, sex-related harms such as Internet-initiated sexual abuse of minors, and cyber-bullying.
Presented at the International Communication Association Annual Meeting, 2013, London.