Cyber safety – A teenager perspective in relation to ethical disengagement
Mirriam Lorato Molubi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TOC o “1-3” h z u 1.Chapter 1: Introduction and Problem Statement PAGEREF _Toc523080850 h 31.1.Objective of the study PAGEREF _Toc523080851 h 51.2.Research questions PAGEREF _Toc523080852 h 51.3.Research outline PAGEREF _Toc523080853 h 52.Chapter 2: PAGEREF _Toc523080854 h 53.Chapter 3: Literature Review PAGEREF _Toc523080855 h 53.1.Introduction PAGEREF _Toc523080856 h 53.2.Aim of the Chapter PAGEREF _Toc523080857 h 63.3.Online ethical disengagement defined PAGEREF _Toc523080858 h 63.4.Challenges of online ethical disengagement PAGEREF _Toc523080859 h 73.5.How do we intervene PAGEREF _Toc523080860 h 93.6.Social media, another social conundrum PAGEREF _Toc523080861 h 114.Chapter 4: Research Design PAGEREF _Toc523080862 h 124.1.Research paradigm PAGEREF _Toc523080863 h 134.2.Research approach PAGEREF _Toc523080864 h 134.3.Research method PAGEREF _Toc523080865 h 144.4.Research technique PAGEREF _Toc523080866 h 144.5.Validity and reliability PAGEREF _Toc523080867 h 144.6.Sampling PAGEREF _Toc523080868 h 154.7.Ethical consideration PAGEREF _Toc523080869 h 155.Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc523080870 h 156.ttt PAGEREF _Toc523080871 h 167.References PAGEREF _Toc523080872 h 17
Abstract: The rise of smart mobile devices usage and easy access to the internet has presented a new paradigm of communication and relationship building to our everyday lives. Due to the convenience presented by these affordances that are inherent to the evolution of technology, more teenagers find themselves being predisposed to the risks associated with being involved in the cyber-world. It is becoming more prevalent that teenagers are the ones who are at high risk, because they are overwhelmed with lot of functionalities, ranging from both social to academic activities. That being said, it is often assumed that, teenagers as they partake in online activities, necessary precautionary measures are undertaken in ensuring cyber safety at all times, however, that may not always translate into reality. Equally true, the issues of ignorance and intentions are often overlooked, when dealing with issues of ethical disengagement in relation to being cyber safe. This disjuncture thus contribute in creating a gap within teenagers themselves, in them acknowledging their obligatory roles and responsibility of incorporating cyber safety initiatives while they engage online. The role that parenting and society plays in the upbringing of kids into becoming responsible teenagers plays a major role in ensuring that ethical engagement is maintained both on and off line. This paper reviews diverse arguments about how teenagers use online platforms, and determines how this use comes contributes to a broader ethical disengagement discourse. This paper further alludes that the perception that teenagers are cyber safety is far from the truth.
Keywords: Cyberbullying, sexting, ethical disengagement, phishing, sexual violence, flirting, Information and Communication Technology, ICT, ontology, epistemology, methodology, positivism, interpretivism, plagiarism, Theory of Planned Behaviour, TPB, Plagiarism and Corporate Image, PCI, Intellectual Property Infringement, academic dishonesty, Turnitin, academic integrity, teaching and learning.
Chapter 1: Introduction and Problem StatementThe evolution of online technologies it is providing a new paradigm of engagements to our day-to-day lives. This is further supported by the convenience presented by mobile devices to allow for technology to become an integral part of our society. The increase of smart devices and easy access to the internet, further affords users access to online platforms, and that in itself exposes us to the risks inherent to these online engagements such cyberbullying and ethical disengagements.
(Faccio, Iudici, Costa, & Belloni, 2014), refers to cyberbullying as the use of information and communication technologies, specifically mobile phones or the internet to support deliberate behaviour to harm others. Faccio et al. (2014), further states that cyberbullying is a phenomenon which is developing very rapidly in correspondence with new technologies and new fashions (such as particular social network sites).
Because the use of online technologies is so well entrenched in our lives, as such we see a diverse range of users spanning from teenagers, professionals, adults as well as businesses. That being said, user’s involvement in online activities comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
Teenagers are born in the era of technological advancements, as such; they are inundated with many opportunities that are presented by these advancements. New technology advancements have accentuated risks exposures to teenagers due to their increased and frequent levels of online engagements. With the use of online technological, it is now becoming more convenient to build relationships regardless of geographical locations; share online user generated content, exchange selfies as well as sexting at times.
According to (Powell ; Henry, 2015), the interface between technology and sexuality has become an important subject of public debate in recent times, with much attention focused on how young people negotiate their sexual identities and encounters through various technologies and online platforms. Henry et al. (2015), further agrees that discursive representation of young people and their sexuality in cyber safety campaigns are often problematic.
The new phenomenon of social engagement, not only does it make teenagers vulnerable to risks in the cyber world, it also opens another paradigm of ethical disengagement. The rapid shifts in communications technology and the opportunities these technologies provide for sexual communication and interaction (especially via Internet-enabled ‘smart’ phones and social networking sites) have led to widespread concern regarding the potential risks that these platforms pose to young people (Henry et al., 2015).On the other hand, could it be the question of teenagers wanting to belong and remain relevant, as such, the pressure that comes with the standards that society has set them is so hefty that they sometimes forget about values and ethics.
Cyber safety is borne on the premise of empowering diverse group of users to be diligent at all times when they engage on online activities. Equally important, cyber safety is not only limited to cyberbullying, it also touches on other aspects such as phishing, online frauds, unequivocal sexual content, child pornography, human trafficking, identity thefts and at times ethical disengagements.
The technological platforms in which teenagers use for social engagements and use as an entry to cyber world, at times may be the same platforms that provides affordances for ethical disengagements. As suggested by (Runions ; Bak, 2015), the distinct aspects of online communication constitute important features that interact with the agent to facilitate acts of cyber-aggression and cyberbullying via mechanisms of moral disengagements. Runions et al., (2015), further notes that by stripping communication of emotional content, use of ICT media may be necessarily structurally dehumanizing.
Being cybersafety savvy remains the responsibility of each individual, making sure that they take sufficient precautionary measures in mitigating risks associated with being involved in cyber world. Measures such as OS/Software updates, running anti-virus software, protecting login credentials and using firewalls can be some of the of the initiatives employed in addressing cybersafety. However, with all these measures in place, a new phenomenon of social engagement still creates a gap in addressing the issue of ethical disengagement.
Often individuals who find themselves in the midst of online ethical misconduct never really recognizes that their actions are unto what. Instead, they may offer some explanation to their perspectives and situation in them trying to qualify their behaviour, as such; this may increase their exposure and vulnerability because they may not be aware of the dangers inherent to their actions.
The disjuncture between individuals conduct and their awareness of any ethical disengagement will continue to render Cybersafety a problem amongst teenagers. Today’s youth is the guardian and teachers of the future, and teaching them to be responsible digital citizens will have a massive impact on the establishment of a cyber-secure culture (Solms et al., 2014). The establishment of the cyber secure culture that is well entrenched with teenagers will go a long way in trying to address the issue of ethical disengagement in relation to cybersafety.
Objective of the study
The aim of the study is to develop a conceptual framework that aims to understand what contributes to the disconnect between teenagers and the potential risks they expose themselves to because of their continued online activities engagements.
The objectives of the study are as follows:
To understand whether teenagers are taking initiatives to ensure that they incorporate cybersafety initiatives in their engagements in online platforms
To determine whether teenagers understands their roles in upholding ethical engagements when making use of online platforms
Can pressure from society be attributed to ethical disengagement of teenagers when creating social engagements using online technologies?
Research questionsThe main questions the research seeks to find out are:
Are teenagers aware of the risks associated with being involved in the cyber world, if so, are they taking the correct actions in minimizing those risks?
Can the issue of ignorance be attributed to the phenomenon of ethical disengagement among teenagers who are actively involved in cyber world?
Research outlineThe remainder of the research will proceeds with the following structure: the literature review section on online ethical disengagement behaviour that are most prevalent amongst individuals more so teenagers and definitions of online ethical disengagements as referred by other scholars. Literature review section will further look at some of the challenges that are inherent to the behaviours that are associated with online ethical disengagement, and also look at some of the intervention that can be applied with the intentions of curbing this behaviours.
Chapter 4 of the research will look at research design, paying more emphasis on the inquiry strategies and techniques to be employed in conducting this research. At the end of this paper, a conclusion is provided that will give a summary of all the elements deliberated and probable perceptions future research could contribute to towards.
Chapter 3: Literature ReviewIntroductionWith the increased usage of online social media platforms and easy to the internet in today’s life, it’s somewhat of a concern that research into teenager’s perspective on online ethical disengagement in so far as cybersafety is concerned, is not really much documented. Much research has been documented to provide evidence that technological advancements have brought out more affordances and options on how society can build relationships and connections, more so teenagers, because they are born into technology. Although, it is also worth noting that the issue of ethics and morality remains a challenge because technology does not have mechanisms to enforce these values.
An undisputed point may rise that suggest that, an increase in the usage of digital technology and mobile devices has accelerated teenager’s access to the cyber world, thus exposing them to the risks associated with cybersafety and more the issues of online ethical disengagements. Adding to this, irresponsible and potentially, harmful use of the Internet is escalating alarmingly (Oxley, 2010). Lately we also witnessing that, (Salter, Crofts & Lee, 2013) friendships and relationships, including sexual relationships, are increasingly initiated and mediated by the use of online and digital technologies.
Maybe the phenomenon of initiating sexual relationship signals an element of social ill that widens the gap and adds to the complexities of online ethical disengagement as another form of cybersafety, because it is affects both adults and teenagers, however, the discourse and dominance is mostly around teenagers. Social norms inform individuals in a given society about what is right and wrong, and it is through their environment (and its symbolic elements) that people learn how to behave morally (Scarpati et al., 2017).
Concerns are becoming more pervasive given the usage of online technology, that is, compromising content such as explicit images and videos of teenagers are supposedly being circulated on social media platforms with or without their permissions. Because of this, there is a likelihood that teenagers can withdraw from society, due the embarrassment that follows as the consequence that could possibly lead to both social and mental problems.Given the rise in the usage of online applications amongst teenagers, it is becoming more obvious that they do not consider safety measures when they are active online and equally important, they are not inclined with their obligatory roles in ensuring that they take full responsibility for displaying good ethics and morality as they engage online. Oxley (2010) argues that responsible and ethical use of the internet is not something that teenagers, in particular, consider to be more important, and serious consequences are beginning to emerge as a result of this careless and offensive online behavior.
Aim of the ChapterThis chapter focuses on the literature around the subject of cybersafety in relation to ethical disengagement from the viewpoint of teenagers, paying more attention on what other scholars have done in various context of the subject. The chapter further tries to discover how teenagers understands and define ethical online engagement, sexting and are they are aware of inherent outcomes. Furthermore, we look at the efficacy of some of the mechanisms put in place to address the issue of online ethical disengagement such that they create awareness in teenagers in them appreciating their roles and responsibilities of upholding moral values and ethical behaviours when interacting on online social media platforms.
Online ethical disengagement definedOnline ethical disengagement within the context of this paper refers individual behaviour that are immoral and yet fail to recognize them as such. The inability for an individual to fail to recognize their obligatory role and responsibility in maintaining an ethical and responsible online conduct thus contribute to the issue of become cybersafety while engaging online. Although cybersafety can imply to many aspects of online conduct, ranging from protecting one’s online identity and not falling victim to online predators, the one dilemma that is becoming more prevalent amongst teenagers in them wanting to fit in and remain relevant, is sexting.
The role of digital technologies, such as mobile phones with camera capabilities, that enables the self-manufacture and distribution of naked erotic sexts by teenagers, has been the subject of sustained media attention and public concern (Salter et al., 2013). Sexting is commonly understood to refer to the creation and distribution of sexually explicit text, videos and/or picture messages, often via mobile phones and increasingly via social media platforms (Henry ; Powell, 2014). (Lim, Vella, Horyniak ; Hellard, 2016), sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit material via communication technologies.
To further elaborate to the definition of sexting (Salter et al., 2013), refers to ‘sexting’ as a term widely used to describe sexual material being it text or images in emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communication. Having to acknowledge that sexting has an element of immorality; it is therefore befitting to define online ethical disengagement as a gap in teenager’s perspective on what really constitutes a moral and ethical online conduct, and in them understanding and acknowledging their roles and responsibilities.
Perhaps the reason why sexting continues to be more popular amongst teenagers is that, there is no broader definition of what sexting really is. Henry et al. (2014) in their view, believes it is advantageous to have a broader definition of sexting, in that, certain behaviours can be conceptualized along with a continuum, with consensual behaviours at one end, abusive and exploitative ones.
Challenges of online ethical disengagementWhether or not it can be argued that the rise in the increased usage of technology has heightened the risks and harms associated with online activities, what remains prevalent of lately, is the dire issue of online ethical behaviours, particularly true amongst teenagers. While technology does not produce new criminal offences, it does however provide a new platform for the facilitation of these behaviours (Henry & Powell, 2015).
It cannot be contested that, the rapid shifts in technology developments, and the opportunities new technologies provide for sexual communication and interactions, have led to the widespread concern regarding the potential risks that various online platforms pose to young people, argues (Henry & Powell, 2015). Those at risk of seeing or receiving sexts are older adolescents, who score higher on psychological difficulties, sensation seeking, and risky online and offline behaviour (Smith, Thompson & Davidson, 2014).
Although sexting has received some press attention, until recently there has been little empirical research (Davidson et al., 2014). However, there has been conflicting views on this one. Sexting is the most recent mobile and online risk to gain public and research attention, because just like pornography, both teenagers and adults may not agree on where to draw the line between acceptable sexual exploration between peers and inappropriate or abusive messaging (Livingstone & Smith, 2014), which may contribute to another affordance of online ethical disengagement.
A serious concern is that, to date, much of the warnings have been far too reminiscent of victim blaming discourses, as though there was only one party responsible for unethical online behaviours, including but not limited to the following, sexual violence, bullying and harassment (Henry et al., 2014). A key problem with current debates and responses to sexting is that they often blame the victim while minimizing the role of others in perpetrating harm, adds (Henry et al., 2014). (Scarpati and Pina, 2017), further suggests that, when individuals are nurtured in a culture that provide them with the justifications they need to blame the victim, moral disengagement mechanisms may not be easily accessible and applicable.
Contrary to what is being reported on media, perhaps the issues of online ethical disengagement it is an indication of an ill that is embedded in society. It remains possible that perhaps technology is displacing older forms of risk, equally true is that, technology has become so embedded in everyday communicative activities that when experiences becomes aggressive or inappropriately sexual, online and mobile communication platforms are more likely to be implicated (Livingstone et al., 2014).
We further witness that the current amount of prevention and education programs also fails to position sexting as additional practice of unethical online conduct within its society and cultural context (Salter et al., 2013). As agreed by (Henry et al. 2014), is that discursive representations of young people and their sexuality in cyber safety campaigns are often highly problematic. Particularly true, there is less research specifically on the impact of sexting on victims, separate from the broader topic of cyberbullying, Livingstone et al. (2014).
It is of vital importance not to undermine a possibility that the issue of online ethical disengagement may have many complex dynamics, ranging from behaviour to attitude that can be stimulated by different motivations. As a situated process, moral disengagement is seen as dependent not only on the characteristics of the individual, but on the context in which an individual is acting (Runions et al., 2015), which confirms that attitude and behaviour are linked.
Given the complex dynamics for different motivations, there is a suggestion that, among sensation seekers or those facing problems, the internet affords particular opportunities for adolescents to experiment with risky or transgressive behaviour (Livingstone et al., 2014) which speaks to online ethical disengagement. Perceived positive outcomes of consensual sexting reported by young according to a study conducted by (Lim et al., 2016) included fun, flirting and sexual experimentation, often in the context of improving a current relationship or initiating a new sexual relationship.
Adding to other possible motivations, might be the need to intentionally embarrass, hurt, humiliate, offend, get revenge, have fun and/or exert power over others (Carter, 2013) adds further. Perhaps it can be argued on the other hand that, anonymity can be attributed to the issue of online ethical disengagement, with the perception that, whatever teenagers get involved with online, it is within their span of control and thus can remain hidden from other people.
Accordingly, motivations such as perceived anonymity, unrestricted and easy access to electronic communication, and contact without physical interactions (Carter, 2013) might also contribute to the dynamics. Youth may hold the erroneous belief that the information they post and share with others in online platforms remains under their own control, adds (Meter & Bauman, 2015). However, conflicting opinions may arise, with some arguing that the behaviour was actually intentional. The question of intentionality further confuses (Livingstone et al., 2014).
There is compelling evidence that parenting does contribute to vulnerability to online and mobile risks much as it does to offline risks (Livingstone et al., 2014). The issue of parenting is much relevant within the context of online ethical disengagement, as it speaks to the founding principles of molding children’s behaviour and attitude that will enable them to become responsible teenagers. Therefore, the more involved parents are, the more teenagers are aware with what constitutes right and wrong, more so when they engage online.
Looking at another factor that might deem important, is the issue of peer pressure and trust. Although it seems that youth may be learning from their previous mistakes, due to the widespread use of social media and normality of sharing passwords among young people, it is important to continue to educate youth about cyber safety and risky online behavior (Meter et al., 2015). This suggest another dynamic, teenagers may naively entrust their friends with their logging details yet forgetting that they cannot monitor and control what happens in their absence.
It can be suggested that, teenagers who mostly associate with friends that engage in risky unethical online bahaviours are also likely to do the same. Also true, is that, the more time teenagers spent online, the more likely they are either going to become victims or perpetrators of online ethical disengagement behaviours. Perhaps limiting time spent online may somehow be a successful strategy for decreasing behaviours associated with online ethical disengagement.
How do we interveneUnderstanding what constitutes an online ethical disengagement from a teenager’s viewpoint as far as cybersafety is concerned, is fundamental in developing multi-disciplinary approaches for addressing potential risks inherent with being active in online platforms. Understanding how young people sexting is a vital step in developing effective and relevant education, intervention and policy (Lim et al., 2016). In so doing, one would be in a better position to get a sense of what really motivates teenagers in finding themselves intertwined in the issues unethical behaviours.
Adding to this view, is (Salter et al., 2013) by stating that, acknowledging the range of sexting behaviour, and the different motivations and impacts of such behaviours, is an important starting point for the development of a more proportionate and appropriate response. Salter et al. (2013) note that, only when we recognize that sexting behaviours are varied and complex, and a component of broader social patterning and subterranean values, can we begin to meet the challenge of preventing aggravated sexting behaviours among minors and young adults alike.
Interventions to promote cyber safety regarding sexting, which may include using legislation, identifying those most at risk to target support and educational initiatives (Davidson et al., 2014) is beneficial. Most children and teenagers need to be taught ethical and responsible ways to behave when using the Internet, particularly as information online is out there forever (Oxley, 2010). Incorporating cyber safety in teaching and learning of teenagers can also assist in defusing the current discourse, therefore, teachers’ needs to be provided with relevant resources that will empower them with knowledge regarding cyber safety (Solms et al., 2014).
In order for individuals to engage in immoral behaviours and yet still act in a way that is consistent with their moral standards, they must change the way they view, a) the behaviour, b) the agent’s responsibility, c) the target of the behaviour and d) the outcomes, Runions et al. (2015). (Scarpati et al., 2017), whilst on morality, argues that there is another form of moral domain which has not been sufficiently explored, thus advocating for mechanisms to be put in place such that other elements pertaining to morality are covered.
Scarpati et al., (2017) believes that even though moral standards work as effective self-regulatory mechanism, they might also provide the justification needed to both, a) engage in immoral and/or harmful behaviours, as well as, b) morally disengage from the consequences of their actions. It is therefore important for teenagers to acknowledge that they are responsible for how they behave online and they must account for their actions, for them to do so, it something that needs to resonate.
As alluded by Runions et al. (2015), individuals could also morally disengage by changing their perceptions of their own personal responsibility for the behaviour through displacement or diffusion of responsibility to other. Instead of justifying immoral behaviors that threaten an individual’s perception of the self as a moral agent, research suggests that defenders are more likely to act in ways that are consistent with their views of right or wrong, adds Runions et al. (2015).
Because parenting plays a major role in influencing behaviours and attitude of teenagers, therefore, the role that parent plays in opposing online ethical disengagement that mostly speaks to the elements of morality, culture and values, is very important. A strategy that is often suggested to parents, is being in a position to be able to monitor the internet usage of teenagers (Faccio, Iucidi, Costa and Belloni, 2014), and thus ensuring that their activities are in line with ethical values and norms. Proactively and regularly access to cybersafety resources designed for parents, will help in becoming familiar with emerging technologies and online trends (Faccio et al., 2014).
Media is often used to report behaviours of online ethical disengagement. It is important to also the same media to promote and educate the public about self-protection online proposed as a system level behaviour directed at online safety and curbing exposure or perpetration to cyberbullying (Carter, 2013).
Perhaps it is worth acknowledging that, maybe the issues of online ethical disengagement behaviours has partly to do with the ills that are somewhat embedded on our society. It therefore makes it important to put in place mechanisms that will address issues that are pertinent amongst society, such that we have we have a society that is inclined with their obligatory roles of maintaining morality, values and ethics both online and offline at all times.
Psychosocial education programs with a specific focus on building social and emotional resilience and satisfying needs in helpful and constructive ways is also advocated (Carter, 2013). This approach will assist in trying to close the gap of moral and ethics perception amongst individuals within society, yet not forgetting the dynamics towards subjectivity as it could be informed by other external factors.
Addressing the issues of ethical behaviour online, requires not only formulating mechanisms that will assist in dealing with such behaviours, but also to understand the diverse views of teenagers of how they understand online ethical behaviour. Henry et al. (2014), elaborates further by stating that, it is indeed important to engage both young men and women in discussions about what it might mean to be an ethical user and consumer of technology, and an ethical spectator.
The solicited views from teenagers will then contribute in informing what strategies to put in place to curtail behaviours on online ethical disengagement. Parallel to that, it is worth noting that, we should not ignore educating young people about the possibilities for exploitation through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) or even fail to caution them against potentially damaging representations in various online and digital platforms, (Henry et al., 2014) adds.
It is important to always remember that, it remains the responsibility for every person to maintain a good ethical conduct while engaging online. However, the opposite is true, because we are seeing the issues of online ethical disengagement becoming more prevalent. Developing a responsible culture that will heighten values and ethics, is of paramount importance. According to (Oxley, 2010), developing a digital citizenship program is critical, because it will assist greatly in addressing three of the biggest problems facing young people today, which are; 1) perceived anonymity, 2) accumulated digital footprint and 3) legal implications of malicious or thoughtless actions. Young people should be encouraged to create a positive digital profile and to use the Internet for good and worthwhile projects (Oxley, 2010) adds.
The perceived anonymity that teenagers have, often lead to them thinking that they operate in their own universe, thus making them forget that the comments and posts that they online are available for public consumption and/or distribution. Therefore, young people must be empowered with strategies that will enable them to stay in control and be able to manage risks when using online and digital technologies (Salter et al., 2013).
Another unfortunate consequence resulting from unethical online behaviour, whether intentional or coerced, is that, teenagers not always consider the fact that, in the near future they will look for employment so that they can earn a decent living and contribute to the economic activities of the country. Of lately, most employers are now checking potential candidates on Google before they offer interviews, and that, there might be legal implications that may follow malicious online activities, because according to (Oxley, 2010) freedom of speech does not equate to freedom from consequences.
It is of paramount importance that everyone and more so teenagers, put in place sufficient measures in curbing risks that are inherent with being involved in cyber world, thus making them responsible digital citizens. This point then highlights the need to indoctrinate the culture of digital citizenship in order to minimize and/or avoid the risks inherent to the behaviours. Thus, the establishment of a culture of cyber safety through education and empowerment is therefore a vital part of addressing the growing threats of Internet usage (Solms ; Solms, 2014).
Social media, another social conundrumWith the progressions of online technology platforms, the rise in the usage of mobile devices and easy access to the internet, another form of social conundrum became a reality. Because cybersafety is not only limited to the prevention of cyberbullying and protecting teenagers from online predators, it further extends to other areas such as phishing, online fraud, unequivocal sexual content, child pornography, human trafficking, identity thefts and ethical disengagements.
New technological developments not only has it offered easy access to online generated content and content sharing platforms, it is now acting as a facilitator to cybersafety risks exposures as a result on the inherent increased levels of online social engagements. Accordingly, as social media sites are becoming more integrated to the lives of adults, systems and behaviours directed towards protecting oneself from cyberbullying need to be identified (Carter, 2013).
It is worth appreciating that, unrestricted and easy access to the internet and electronic communication has transformed how teenagers build social engagements, relationships are now more than ever becoming more easily formed without the need for any physical interfaces and regardless of geographical locations.
The issue of online ethical disengagement is very complex, and adding to the dilemma experienced by teenagers are the issues of social impact that are heightened by the sophistications that are offered by technological evolutions. This has proven particularly significant where cybersafety is concerned, following that, lately it is becoming rather too easily for teenagers to utilize technology and mobile devices for the facilitation of sexual content without them considering their ethical obligations. This behavior and attitude confirms a clear indication that teenagers not only do they consider ethical and responsible usage of the internet and online social media platforms essential, they are not inclined with the risks linked with this obliviousness.
Online ethical disengagement seems to becoming a social norm, we see media reports more every day some of the examples of the misuse of social media platforms because individuals is more like they tend to forget about their ethics and moral values. That being said, the online context provides structural affordances for moral disengagement that can potentially increase the use of specific moral disengagement mechanism, thereby enabling cyber-aggressive bahaviour, (Runions ; Bak, 2015). Adding to this view, (Runions et al., 2015) further states that ICT communications is increasingly social on nature, and this contributes an affordance for moral disengagement by facilitating diffusion and displacement of responsibilities.
Chapter 4: Research DesignThe emphasis of this chapter will touch on research methods to be employed in this study, namely: research paradigm, research approach, research method, research technique, validity and reliability, and research sampling.
Fig 4.1 Research Approach and Design
Research paradigmAs defined by Cuba (1990), a paradigm is an interpretative framework, which is guided by a set of beliefs and feelings about the world and how it should be understood and studied. As such, a research paradigm should be able to talk to the following three dimensions; Ontology – what is reality, epistemology – how do you know something and methodology – how do you go about finding it out.
Gephart (1999), describes research paradigms in to three ideological different classifications, namely; positivism, interpretivism and critical post modernization. Positivism regards human behaviour as passive, controlled and determined by external environment (Ong, 2016). Given the existing literature and the intent of this study, the positivism paradigm was chosen, because of its association with quantitative research, its theories can be confirmed scientifically and it involves hypothesis testing.
To further support the choice of the paradigm, as according to a French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857) who came up with the idea of positivism, goes to qualify his philosophy by stating that a researcher’s approach should be empirical and generalised.
Research approachResearch approaches can be either qualitative or quantitative in nature. As such, qualitative research are often subjective because there is not much social gap between the subject being studied and the researcher. While on the other hand, qualitative studies are objective, unbiased because there is no social and emotional connection because the subject being studied and the researcher.
For the sake purpose of this study and the choice of the positivism paradigm, a quantitative approach will be employed. The employment of the approach is informed by the objective of this study and the numerical nature of the adopted research approach. To further qualify the approach, quantitative research are neutral and unbiased.
Studies that are quantitative in nature are actual and substantial in that, they are able to give tangible answers and not just unconfirmed thoughts. Seeking understanding as to why teenagers may want to expose themselves to the risks associated with cybersafety and divorcing themselves from their contribution to ethical disengagement in their participation in online activities is by far the most difficult concept to apprehend.
A survey research is one of the numerous approaches that can be functional in doing research. This strategy is best qualified for studies that have individuals that can represent subjects that can be used.
Some of the inherent benefits and strengths of a survey research, are but not limited to the following: 1) they are good in observing a variety of unobservable data; 2) they can used for remotely collecting data if the sampled group is too large to observe directly; 3) some respondents prefer questionnaires because of the convenience they offer; and lastly, survey research are very economical in terms of the researcher time, effort and cost.Given the positivism position adapted in this study, a careful consideration was done taking appreciation of available literature around research strategies. A survey research approach was considered the most appropriate to employ because it can provide a research with a systematic way to collect and analyze data, it can further assist a research in gaining an in-depth understanding of a subject of interest.Research technique
A research technique is an instrument that the research seeks to employ to collect data. Given the survey research position the study is seeking to adopt and in addition, the simple random sampling direction the study is going to following, a questionnaire technique was chosen as an instrument to be used to solicit data.
For the purpose of this study and what it seeks to realize, a structured questionnaire is deemed an appropriate tool and thus will be utilized to gather information regarding the use of online media platforms in relation to teenagers understanding of online ethical disengagement. The questionnaire as an instrument will need to test the constructs of the TPB model, i.e. attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioral intention and behavioral intention of the research subject.
Various scholars have suggested that a questionnaire as an instrument for soliciting data has many advantages. To qualify the statement further, (Gray & Malins, 2004), puts it that one of the many advantages that can be accredited to the use of a questionnaire, is its obscurity when it comes to responses from individual participants, as a consequence of that, respondents are most likely to be give authentic answers when responding. A use of a questionnaire in this study is further be authenticated by its granularity, which according to the some of the available literature, has proven to be beneficial and valuable for better decision making.
In order to solicit data for constructs of the adopted research model, a proposed five (5) point Likert scale will be utilised. A description of the scale degree to be used will be (1: Strongly Agree), (2: Somewhat Agree), (3: Neutral), (4: Somewhat Disagree) and (5: Strongly Disagree).Validity and reliability
Validity refers to the degree to which a measure sufficiently represents the construct that is supposed to measure, whereas, reliability refers to the degree to which the measure of a construct is consistent, reliable or dependable.
For the purpose of this paper, the study will test validity and reliability using thorough content and construct validity, as such, respondents will be asked to check and confirm questionnaire items prior to their participation.
For the purpose of this of study and what it seeks to achieve, simple random sampling of individuals will be used and the selected individuals will be used as research subjects for this study.
The use of simple random sampling of individuals is deemed appropriate for this study and this is appreciated by the fact that the use of mobile devices and easy access to the internet has simplified how relationships and engagements are built, thus becoming an integral part of our everyday communication and connection building platform.
In addition, the use of simple random sampling cuts across all demographics, therefore there will not be any biasness as individualities or unique features of selected participants will not be considered as a means of selection measure.
Given that this study is of a qualitative nature, and that a questionnaire is going to be used for data gathering. This approach has the potential to raise ethical concerns. Therefore, appropriate guideline will be followed to address ethical concerns.
The ethical issues in undertaking this study will be addressed as follows: subjects in the research study will be made aware of their voluntary participation, subjects in the research study will be ensured of their anonymity and confidentiality, a disclosure of the study is all about will be made provided and made available, and lastly, subjects in the research study will be guaranteed that their participation will not put them in any form of harm.ConclusionOver the years, technology has evolved to a point where it is embedded in our everyday lives, from how we communicate to how we build social engagements. Cybersafety needs to become an integral part of how we engage online, such that behaviours are restrained within ethical conduct. What we noticing of lately is teenagers becoming more and more associated with behaviours pertaining to online ethical disengagement, whereby sexting is most prevalent. There are many different dynamics as to why teenagers use online platforms for social engagements.
Therefore, it can be argued that, perhaps the use of online platforms is contributing to the discourse around the issues of teenager’s online ethical disengagement. Contrary to the perception that teenagers are cybersafe because they are born into technology, recent discourse suggests that, teenagers are not considering the issues safety and privacy, and are also not taking responsibility in ensuring that they online conduct does have any dire consequence that may have legal implications.
In order to address online ethical disengagement amongst teenagers and come up with programs that will sufficiently curb the behaviour, it is of paramount importance to understand the different dynamics that informs the motivations to carry out such a behaviour. It is also important to note that ethics, culture and moral values may also present other dynamics that may also add to the problem.
Equally true, individuals perceive ethics and moral values differently, as they are, inherently informed and influenced by the subject’s current environment and psychological state. As with ethics and morality, teenagers’ understanding of sexting is also different, therefore, their behaviours will inform their perceived attitude, hence the need to unpack different motivators.
To conclude, the objective of the research was to look at diverse dynamics contributing to the issue of online ethical disengagement, particularly amongst teenagers. Furthermore, the objective seeks to propose that, further research needs to look at whether or not the current interventions are significantly addressing the discourse of online ethical disengagement. Additionally to that, the implication of online ethical disengagement and conduct, and cybersafety must be understood from the context of teenagers, not forgetting to look at issues of culture, gender and social norms.
The issues of gender remains significantly relevant as suggested by a study conducted by (Lim et al., 2016) which found out from the participants that took part, that, sexting was considered to be risky, particularly for females, while on the other hand males had permissive sexting attitudes and thus perceived sexting to be less risky.
The gender disparity creates a challenge in that, certain online conduct will be justifiable on the bases of gender. As a result, detrimental behavior becomes socially and morally tolerable, and any inconsistent moral beliefs and behaviors are experienced largely without self-reproach (Scarpati et al., 2017) adds.
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