Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Troy E. Beckert


Troy E. Beckert


Kay Bradford


Elizabeth B. Fauth


Randall M. Jones


Brian K. Warnick


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between teenagers’ use of mobile Internet devices and their involvement in risky digital behaviors, including problematic Internet use, exposure to pornography, and participation in sexting. A sample of teens between the ages of 13-18 was used for this study.

It was found that teens who used smartphones as their primary source of Internet access were most likely to receive sexting requests, while teens using computers to access the Internet were most likely to intentionally view pornography. Additionally, teens who used multiple mobile devices to connect to the Internet and teens who had owned at least one mobile Internet device for longer periods of time were most likely to have higher levels of problematic Internet use.

While older teens predictably had higher rates of pornography exposure and requests to sext, along with a greater willingness to participate in sexting than younger teens, an important finding from this study was that younger teens who used smartphones as their primary source of Internet access were just as likely as older teens to have received requests to sext.

Parental factors such as monitoring teens’ use of the Internet and parent-child relationships were also examined in this study. It was found that teens who reported strong relationships with their parents were less likely to struggle with problematic Internet use and had lower rates of pornography exposure and participation in sexting. This finding underscores the important role that parents can play in guiding their teens to make healthy online choices.