This study constructed a structural model which consists of social demographic factors, experience of victimization, opportunity factors, and social context factors to explain the public’s fear of crime on social networking sites (SNS). The model is based on the risk interpretation model, which predicts that these factors influence users’ fear of crime victimization. Using data from 486 university students in South Korea, an empirically-tested model suggests that sex and age have direct and significant effects on fear of victimization, supporting the vulnerability hypothesis. Among opportunity factors, the level of personal information and the number of offending peers have significant effects on fear of victimization through the medium of the perceived victimization risk, although the effect of SNS usage time is not significant. In addition, it was revealed that experience of victimization has a direct effect on fear of victimization. Furthermore, findings indicate that bridging social network has a direct and indirect positive effect on fear of victimization, and collective efficacy has an indirect effect on fear of victimization. Results show that incidents in SNS have the strongest effect on fear of victimization among various factors in this model without being mediated by the perceived victimization risk. Overall, this study supports a structural model for the fear of victimization.

Note on the Author(s)

Kyung-shick Choi works at Department of Criminal Justice, 10 Shaw Road, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA 02325, USA. E-mail: kchoi@bridgew.edu