Internet Psychology, Cyber-ethics, and Citizenship in the Emerging Digital Milieu


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Digital life on the Internet appears to carry with it a variation of real world psychology. In this presentation, I examine and discuss research and theory on the specialized nature of Internet psychology, how that psychology influences ethical behavior online, and further, how these features are manifesting in the way young people are experiencing citizenship locally, nationally, and globally.

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  • Background to citizenship/digital citizenship The abstract psychology of the Internet yields opportunities and challenges that come from these features of being online:
  • As a result, we speculate that one likely contributor to declining empathy is the rising prominence of personal technology and media use in everyday life. (p. 188).Indeed, people today have a significantly lower number of close others to whom they can express their private thoughts and feelings (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, & Brashears, 2006). Alternatively, the ease and speed of such technology may lead people to become more readily frustrated or bored when things do not go as planned (e.g., O’Brien, Anastasio, & Bushman, 2010), resulting in less empathic interactions. Furthermore, people simply might not have time to reach out to others and express empathy in a world filled with rampant technology revolving around personal needs and self-expression.Fewer others with whom we are close and the conditioning of instant gratification through technology that can fuel frustration with time consuming personal relationships, “people simply might not have time to reach out to others and express empathy in a world filled with rampant technology revolving around personal needs and self-expression.” (p. 188).
  • Fully 95% of those ages 12-17 use the internet. Eight in ten online teens use some kind of social media. Twitter is still not in the same league as Facebook, which attracts 77% of online teens. Still, 24% of online teens now use Twitter, a figure that is up from 16% in 2011 and 8% the first time we asked this question in late 2009. Teenagers’ use of Twitter now outpaces that of adults; just 16% of online adults are Twitter users, up slightly from the 12% who were using Twitter in 2011.13
  • 30% of television-owning households in the United States now contain at least four TVs
  • Having empathy for others is associated with ethical behavior
  • From 1979 to 1999, Konrath et al. found little change in the EC scores of college undergraduates. However, from 2000 to 2009 they report a 48% decline in EC and a 34% decline in PT. These are steep declines at both ends of the empathy spectrum. Empathic Concern (EC) measures people’s other-oriented feelings of sympathy for the misfortunes of others - a more emotional component of empathyPerspective Taking (PT) is a more cognitive or intellectual component, measuring people’s tendencies to imagine other people’s points of view. Konrath, S., O’Brien, E., & Hsing, C., (2011)
  • Is anyone here suffering from a lack of information?Is anyone working hard to keep up with the amount of information?Decline in EC and PT correlated to increase in personal ty use. Lets look at one piece of personal ty use that affects all of us: Identity.Sara H. KonrathResearch Center for Group DynamicsInstitute for Social ResearchUniversity of Michigan
  • Cyberethics education is addressiing . . .Click to add em 630 core virtuesToday’s focus on empathy
  • The story of Matthew Bent and his son Shiloh. Desar, L. (2013, April 16). Anti-Bullying Facebook Post Goes Viral. Retrieved from Ortiz, Erik. (2013, April 15). Wisconsin dad’s viral Facebook post against bullying gets results. New York Daily News, Online edition. Retrieved from
  • Matthew Bent, whose son, Shiloh, was being victimized at school, posted a message saying he ‘stands behind my son in the fight against bullying.’ The reaction was enough to get the Kaukauna Area School District to notice.The story of Matthew Bent and his son Shiloh. Desar, L. (2013, April 16).Anti-Bullying Facebook Post Goes Viral. Ortiz, Erik. (2013, April 15). Wisconsin dad’s viral Facebook post against bullying gets results. New York Daily News, Read more:
  • “Bully” received a “PG-13” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after
  • the National Day of Civic Hacking is a national event that, “brings together citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs from all over the nation to collaboratively create, build, and invent new solutions using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, out states and our country” with the goal of “work[ing] together to improve our society” (National Day of Civic Hacking website)
  • After over 84,000 people signed her petition, Julia delivered it to the executive editor of Seventeen magazine who not only agreed to Julia’s request, she went a giant step beyond it; committing not to alter the body size or face shape of the girls and models in the magazine and to feature a diverse range of beauty in its pages. (Klisanin, 2012).
  • what are traditional ideas of citizenship and how has the digital age affected them?What are the effects of increased levels of and access to education worldwide on both the governed and the governors in all kinds of societies? Focusing on digital citizenship, we ask: how is the global Internet, access to all the world’s information through the WWW, and all kinds of electronic communication affecting what people do and how they think about being citizens?Is digital citizenship separate from political citizenship or is it an extension of citizenship behaviors and practices to the digital realm?
  •  Though “there is no direct, one-to-one relationship between years of schooling and political sophistication, nonetheless, Research regularly links education to a citizen’s level of political knowledge, interest and sophistication” (Niie, Junn, & S-B, 1996) (see note 13 chapter 1, Dalton, 2008). Over the past several decades, education, politically relevant skills, and resources of the average American have increased dramatically” (Dalton, 2008, p. 10).The “network” allows people to find and communicate with others who share their interests, allowing them to pursue their own interests rather than being told what to do or being channeled into activities and beliefs by established institutions such as political parties.
  • Traditional 18th and 19th century
  • Digital networked world: facilitating changes in citizenship behavior“Younger generations have disconnected from conventional politics and government in alarming numbers” this trend is not just in the U.S. “also occurring in Germany, Sweden, and UK (in addition to US)” (Bennett, 2008, p. 1)Technology and social changes are affecting beliefs and practices of citizenship
  • Generational changes in social identity”“Growing importance of peer networks and online communities” “Empowerment of youth as expressive individuals . . . frees young people to make their own creative choices.” (Bennett, 2008, pp. 2-3).
  • An emerging concept, facilitated by cyberspace recognizing:traditional definitions of citizenship disregarded the complex cultural identities represented in their school community (Banks, 2008; Kymlicka, 2004) and failed to capture the shared human experience that informed many of their students' notions of citizenship (Noddings, 2005; Nussbaum, 2002).” (Alviar-Martin, 2010/2011, p. 46).
  • Internet Psychology, Cyber-ethics, and Citizenship in the Emerging Digital Milieu

    1. 1. Internet Psychology, Cyberethics, and Citizenship in the Emerging Digital Milieu University of Strasbourg February 10, 2014 90/64/6470/H5PH100Z/posters/carol-mike-werner-concept-of-man-in-cyberspace.jpg
    2. 2. Cyberspace Psychology (Background to cyberethics, citizenship/digital citizenship) Abstract Features:  Intangibility  The sense of Invisibility  The appearance of Anonymity  Reduction or Absence of Time Referents  More Control of time and pace of interactions  Geographic Transparency  Tunnel Vision 2/10/2014
    3. 3. Challenges to Cyberethics • Online interaction is more abstract, more cognitive than face-to-face interaction. • Important affective social cues and non-verbal communication that help to trigger ethical behavior absent or degraded. • Computing can be seen as “mentally rich” but “perceptually . . . impoverished” (Davy, 1984). EM-630 Cyberethics
    4. 4. Computing as “Tunnel Vision” EM-630 Cyberethics
    5. 5. When online, Social Cues are Reduced This may provoke: • A shift in attention toward the task rather than the recipient. • Increased private self-awareness and reduced public self-awareness. • A flattening of normal social hierarchy (Shin, 2008). EM-630 Cyberethics
    6. 6. The consensus of norms online - rules and desirable behaviors - is lower than offline Shared norms for behavior online have • lower regularity than offline. • lower authority than offline (Shin, 2008) . EM-630 Cyberethics
    7. 7. Time social networking is up 82% as of 2009 (Whitney, 2010). Cell phone use has risen dramatically: The average American teen now sends and receives around 1,500 text messages per month, and uses their phones for functions other than talking (Pew Research Center, 2009). Such technology is easy and pervasive: More than 100 million people access Face- book with their cell phones (Media Literacy Clearinghouse, 2010) 2/10/2014
    8. 8. 2/10/2014 Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project Teen and Parent Surveys
    9. 9. Think TV has gone away? More Americans now than ever before report using television and the Internet  Television viewing recently reached an all-time high (Reisinger, 2010; Media Literacy Clearinghouse, 2010). 2/10/2014
    10. 10. Screen Time Media a Full Time Job Young people spend 7 hours, 38 minutes a day on computer, phone, TV, games and other screens. “Media are a full-time job plus overtime for children 8 to 18, a Kaiser report says.” “They devote 53 hours a week on screens, one hour 17 minutes more Rubin, B. (2010). LA; See also: Generation M2: than five years ago.” (2010). Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-YearOlds,; (Rideout, Foehr, and Roberts, 2010), 2/10/2014
    11. 11. 2/10/2014
    12. 12. 2/10/2014
    13. 13. Digital Life introduces Cyberbullying Prevalence of Cyberbullying Abstract psychological nature of cyberspace Empathy and Empathic Concern (EC) is Inhibited in Cyberspace Perspective Taking (PT) is Inhibited in Cyberspace 2/10/2014
    14. 14. Empathy is: A sense of shared experience, including emotional and physical feelings, with someone or something other than oneself. ... More than feeling compassion or sympathy “for” another person, empathy puts you in their shoes to feel with them or as one with them. EM630 Cyberethics
    15. 15. Ø Empathy? “ Didn’t you get my email? ” EM-630 Cyberethics
    16. 16. Declines EC and PT 1999 to 2009 120 100 Measuring Empathy 1999 80 2009 60 EC 2009 PT 40 20 0 1999 2009 From 1979 to 1999, little change in the EC scores of college undergraduates. From 2000 to 2009 Konrath et al. report: 48% decline in EC and 34% decline in PT. (Konrath, et al., 2011) 2/10/2014
    17. 17. Total information outside of work has increased 350% compared to 30 years ago (Bohn & Short, 2009). “We speculate that one likely contributor to declining empathy is the rising prominence of personal technology and media use in everyday life” (Konrath, et al., 2011, p. 188). Sara H. Konrath Institute for Social Research 2/10/2014 University of Michigan
    18. 18. 2/10/2014
    19. 19. 2/10/2014
    20. 20. December 06, 2013 2/10/2014
    21. 21. Combatting Cyberbullying through Cyberethics Education – Respect Addresses the problem from the bottom up. Virtues for – Responsibility Cyberethics: – Honesty What ethics do you practice online in – Empathy general? particular and in cyberspace in –Trust 2/10/2014
    22. 22. Who is a cyber-hero? Rather than setting out on an epic adventure to far away lands and encountering life-threatening dangers, as in the traditional heroic narrative (Campbell, 1949/1972), the cyberhero, both stays at home and sets off--into cyberspace with the goal of benefiting others. (Klisanin, 2012). 2/10/2014
    23. 23. Who is a cyber-hero? A cyberhero is someone who acts for reasons beyond her or his personal gain A cyberhero’s action also must be courageous. Without taking a risk or a bold action that has the potential to make others uncomfortable or angry, an action should not be called heroic. A cyberhero should be creative. Anyone can type a status update on Facebook or write an angry email to a school Superintendent. Cyberheroes think outside the box, and use the power of the Internet in creative ways. (Turner, C., (2013). 2/10/2014
    24. 24. Who is a cyberhero? “I stand behind my son in the fight against bullying.” Matthew Bent and his son Shiloh 2/10/2014
    25. 25. Who is a cyberhero? Katy Butler More than 500,000 people -- including 35 members of Congress and celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Meryl Streep -- joined a Michigan high schooler’s campaign on Katy Butler, a 17 year-old who was bullied in middle school, launched the petition when she learned that the MPAA was sticking by its "R" rating of "Bully." 2/10/2014
    26. 26. National Day of Civic Hacking A “civic hacker is one who uses their skills in solving technical problems for the good of society as a whole.” Stephen Kennedy, EM630 summer 2013 2/10/2014
    27. 27. Who is a cyber-hero? Teenager Julia Bluhm created an online petition at asking Seventeen Magazine to commit to printing one unaltered “real” photo spread per month. Julia wanted to “see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me.” the photoshopped, airbrushed, images of models were leading “some girls try to “fix” themselves. . . . lead[ing] to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem.” (Klisanin, 2012). 2/10/2014
    28. 28. Seventeen magazine vows not to alter images, to 'celebrate every kind of beauty’ By Greg Botelho, CNN updated 10:21 AM EDT, Fri July 6, 2012 2/10/2014
    29. 29. Who is a cyberhero? High school student reverse the harmful, bullying actions of others A student galvanized his peers into a 180 degree turn toward the positive (Facebook Stories: We Are All Daniel Cui 2/10/2014
    30. 30. Fabric of 21st Century Citizenship Weaving together Internet psychology + Cyberethics + [citizenship + digital citizenship = engaged citizenship] IP + CE + C + DC = EC 2/10/2014
    31. 31. Questioning 21st Century Citizenship What is citizenship today? How would you know if you are a good citizen or a bad citizen? How does digital life affect ideas and practices of citizenship? Is digital citizenship separate from political citizenship? 2/10/2014
    32. 32. Three Variables of Citizenship 1. The nature and practice of ones’ participation in society 2. Education 3. Digital life and how it has given birth to the concept of digital citizenship 2/10/2014
    33. 33. Three Categories of Citizenship The Dutiful Citizen The Engaged Citizen The Enlightened Citizen? 2/10/2014
    34. 34. The Dutiful Citizen Traditional concept of citizenship including: local involvement with their community, paying taxes, voting, and would act to defend their nation if necessary but who is otherwise rather passive. 2/10/2014
    35. 35. The Engaged Citizen The Engaged Citizen – Digitally literate people today Active in areas of their own selfinterest May not intersect with conventional political processes Increases in volunteer work High levels of sensitivity to “economic injustice in local and global arenas.” 2/10/2014
    36. 36. The Engaged Citizen Emphasizes: “Generational changes in social identity” “Growing importance of peer networks and online communities” “Empowerment of youth as expressive individuals . . . frees young people to make their own creative choices.” (Bennett, 2008, pp. 23). 2/10/2014
    37. 37. These shifts Ease “the overriding duty to participate in conventional government-centered activities” (Bennett, 2008, pp. 2-3). 2/10/2014
    38. 38. The “Enlightened Citizen” ? More diversity in each person’s origins in “locality, country, and the global community.” “Multiple affiliations, rights, and responsibilities” More fluid trans-national and cultural identity and socioeconomic status. Fueling activism and social justice advocacy. 2/10/2014 (Alviar-Martin, 2010/2011)
    39. 39. Internet Psychology, Cyberethics Education & Citizenship/Digital Citizenship David Whittier, Ed D For cyberethics education research and development, email at: 2/10/2014
    40. 40. References Banta, E., (2013). Everyday Heroes in Cyberspace. Unpublished manuscript, EM630, summer 2013. Bennett, W. L. (2008). “Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age." In Civic life online: Learning how digital media can engage youth. Edited by W. Lance Bennett. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Cohen, S., (2012). Teen petitions to change R rating for 'Bully' Dalton, R., (2008). The good citizen: How a younger generation is reshaping American politics. Washington, DC: CQ Press., Klisanin, D. (2012). The Hero and the Internet: Exploring the Emergence of the Cyberhero Archetype . Media Psychology Review [Online]. 4, 1. Konrath, S., O’Brien, E., & Hsing, C., (2011). Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review 15(2) 180–198. Olmeda, G., (2013). Ethical Guidelines. Unpublished manuscript, EM-630, summer 2013. Ortiz, Erik. (2013, April 15). Wisconsin dad’s viral Facebook post against bullying gets results. New York Daily News, Online edition. Retrieved from 2/10/2014