by Anique Scheerder and Alexander van Deursen
In a study in which 48 families (24 lower educated and 24 higher educated) were interviewed, it was investigated whether and why these families experience negative outcomes from the Internet and how they deal with this. The results show that the confrontation with the negative outcomes of internet use is comparable in both groups. This suggests that any internet user could become a victim of, for example, online fraud or exposure to harassment or offensive content. However, the way people deal with negative outcomes differs considerably between people from low and high educated families. In highly educated families, users often take matters in their own hands, for example by looking at the cause, by figuring out how to prevent the negative outcome in the future, or by better protecting their children. In contrast, people in the lower educated families often took little action. They often blamed a particular institution or the internet in general, which resulted in a passive reaction (in contrast to the higher educated who looked much more critically at their own role and usually applied reactive coping strategies). To conclude, the position of the lower educated is also under pressure due to the fact that they are less able to cope with the negative results of internet use.