Second Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS-2)

Summary: The Second Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS-2) was conducted in 2005 and designed to update and expand upon the previous Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS-1) conducted in 1999/2000. This study involves telephone interviews with a national sample of 1500 youth Internet users, ages 10 to 17. The interviews measure changes in the frequency and nature of unwanted online exposures to sexual solicitations and pornography since YISS-1. Additionally, YISS-2 goes beyond the findings of YISS-1 by pursuing in greater detail topics about which we gathered initial data in the earlier study, including more details about the impact on youth of unwanted exposure to sexual solicitations and pornography and the use and efficacy of filtering and blocking software -- to what extent it achieves its goals and is well regarded by its users. YISS-2 also addresses the receptivity of young people to a variety of different messages about online safety and reporting.


The previous survey, YISS-1, established several important conclusions, including that large numbers of youth Internet users were exposed to unwanted sexual solicitations and pornography online; some youth were highly upset by these exposures; few incidents were reported to authorities; most parents and children did not know where to make reports; and the use of filtering or blocking software was not widespread. In addition, we found that, among other characteristics, frequent Internet users, chat room users, online risk takers and those who communicated online with people they had never met face-to-face were at greater risk for receiving both unwanted sexual solicitations and exposures to pornography. The goals of the YISS-2 stem from these findings.

Goals and Objectives

  • Determine whether the frequencies of online exposures to unwanted pornography, sexual solicitations and harassment have changed among youth Internet users, ages 10 to 17, since YISS-1 was conducted;
  • Evaluate the impact on youth Internet users of unwanted pornography, sexual solicitations and harassment;
  • Evaluate the use and effectiveness of filtering and blocking software and the factors associated with its adoption and discontinuation;
  • Assess youth receptivity and reactions to a variety of different prevention messages aimed at reducing risky behavior online and increasing the reporting of incidents.


The YISS-2 telephone interviews were designed and implemented similarly to those in YISS-1. Interviewers from a professional interviewing firm used random digit dialing to construct a sample of 1500 households with children, ages 10-17, who used the Internet at least once a month during the six months prior to the interview. Upon reaching a household, interviewers screened for regular Internet use by a child in the household age 10 through 17. Interviewers identified the child in the household who uses the Internet most often and then asked to speak with the parent who knew the most about the child's Internet use. Interviewers then conducted a short interview about use of filtering and blocking software and other prevention methods, as well as household demographic characteristics. At the close of the parent interview, the interviewer requested permission to speak with the previously identified youth. Parents were assured of the confidentiality of the interview, told that young participants would receive checks for $10, and informed the interview would include questions about "sexual material your child may have seen."

With parental consent, interviewers described the study to the child and obtain his or her verbal consent. Youth interviews lasted about twenty minutes. They were scheduled at the convenience of youth participants, and arranged for times when they could talk freely. Respondents were promised complete confidentiality and told they could skip any questions they did not want to answer and stop the interview at any time. The survey was conducted under the supervision of the University of New Hampshire's Human Subjects Committee and conformed to the rules mandated by research projects funded by the Department of Justice. Youth respondents received brochures about Internet safety as well as checks for $10.

The YISS-2 dataset has been archived at the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect.