Virtual Environment and Lying: Perspective of Czech
Adolescents and Young Adults
Masaryk University, Czech Republic
The goal of our study was to find out how the frequency of lying varies in diverse
environments of the internet, who is the most frequent recipient of lies and what are
typical motivations for lying. We were interested in how these variables partake in the
frequency of lying in various areas of the internet (e-mail, chat rooms, discussion forums,
instant messengers, computer games). We have taken into account the effect of various
environments on various subjects of lies: lying about one’s age, gender, employment,
education, income, appearance. Results were compared based on gender as well as age
groups – 914 respondents in total were divided into three age groups, namely
adolescents (12-18), emerging adults (19-26) and adults (27+). We have studied who
are the most frequent recipients of lies and have found no significant differences between
women and men in this respect; lying to individuals of the same gender is however more
frequent for women, whereas lying toward the group of people is more typical for men.
For various age groups, we can thus differentiate various areas about which they feel the
greatest urge to lie – for the youngest group this includes age and physical appearance,
most often in chat rooms. The middle group sees a shift of priorities towards “stable
manifestations of adulthood” – such as their work or income. This is true especially for
men; women do not feel the urge to lie about their age, but on the other hand more
often lie about their appearance. The oldest age group then focuses on income for men,
appeal and appearance for women and one’s age for both genders.
Keywords: lying, adolescents, emerging adulthood, virtual environment
The history and development of the internet indicates that what draws people to
the internet is not the enormous amount of easily-accessible information, but
rather other people (Biocca, 2000). Thanks to an increasing level of internet
penetration and computer literacy, the feeling of anonymity on the internet can
lead people to believe that there is no outer control of his/her behavior. The
environment of the internet is characterized by a lack of visual and auditory
hints commonly used in face-to-face communication. So, the internet allows us
to emphasize the parts of our personalities which we consider most important as
well as to suppress those which we are ashamed of. We can present ourselves
as rich, successful, humorous, younger or older (Doring, 2002). In accordance
with Bargh, McKenna, and Fitzsimons (2002), the visual anonymity of the
internet has a direct influence on the amount of self-disclosure and sincerity.
The feeling of anonymity can lead users to behavior impeaching common social
norms which would remain hidden in the real world (Reid, 1991).
The question of lying on the internet was not, in our opinion, described in proper
detail with relation to the specific communication environment of the internet.
We have thus decided to take these environments into account and also to try
and emphasize the effect of age on various subjects of lies. We also consider the
composition of samples problematic in previous studies, since they often were
conducted on students and were not large enough. For this reason we have
decided to carry out our research on a representative sample with a sufficient
number of respondents, allowing the inclusion of not only gender but also other
independent variables, such as the online environment (or forms of
communication) and also various age groups. We focused on the 5 most
frequent online environments in our study – email, chat, forums, instant
messengers (IM-ICQ/MSN) and computer games. We excluded the environment
of weblogs because lying there was already precisely described by Blinka and
Smahel (2009). We also chose age as an independent variable for the variability
of the importance of some subjects of lies in various age groups. In our study
we focus on adolescents and young adults, whereas results are confronted with
the age group of 27 and above, where a lesser level of computer knowledge can
be expected as well as a lower frequency of internet communication use.
Our goal was to document the level of deception of others on the internet in the
Czech Republic, where the internet penetration in 2006 was about 50% of users
over 18 years of age (Galacz & Smahel, 2007). We especially focus on how lying
in various environments of the internet differs, who is most often the recipient
of lies and what are the most common motivations for lying.
How many people lie?
By lying, we usually mean misleading someone, both on a conscious as well as
unconscious level (not in psychoanalytic terms). In the following paragraphs we
will focus only on purposeful misleading of others. In 1992 lying on the internet
was still considered rather uncommon (Curtis, 1992). After two years of
observation of social interactions of more than 3500 players on MUD servers,
which are used to meet people and play various roles in a fictive world, Curtis
ends the study with a statement that suspicion of lying was most often
expressed towards women playing woman characters. These were often
aggressively requested to “prove” that they are not actually men in real life.
The share of lying in communication tends to differ in various studies. Cornwell
and Lundgren (2001) made a comparison of “misleading” in virtual
environments and real life. 22.5% (5% in real life) lies about their age, while
27.5% (12.5% in real life) lied about their physical appearance. 15% (20%) lied
about their hobbies and 17.5% (10%) about their job and, education. The
relatively large age spread of 18-55 (with an average of 26) could however be
considered a certain drawback of the study.
Caspi and Gorsky (2006) focused on participants of discussion forums, where
68% of respondents were women with an average age of 30. They found that
whilst online lies were considered a widespread phenomenon (73% of
respondents thought so), only one third admits to lying to others. They also
found that people who spend more time online lie more often, and the same can
be said about younger users (36% of users younger than 20 lie, while only
15.9% older than 31 do) and more experienced users. Respondents most often
mentioned “playing a different identity” as the reason for lying, followed by fear
of misuse of personal information. Whitty (2002) analyzed 320 chat users with
an age average of 21.3. Through a questionnaire of her own making, she
monitored the differences between the age groups of 17-20 and 21-55 as well
as between men and women for lying about age, gender, work, education and
income. She found that, except for lying about age, men lie more often than
women and that younger age groups lie more often about age and education.
Based on these studies we can conclude that younger respondents will lie more
often than older ones (hypothesis H1).
Context of lying
The potential for experimenting with various types of characters is almost
unlimited in online communication (Rheingold, 1993; Reid, 1991; Turkle; 1995;
Suler, 2000 etc.), gender-swapping isn’t uncommon either (Lea & Spears, 1995;
Wallace, 1999; Reid, 1995). However, there can be many other reasons for lying
to other users. Up to 80% of lies are made for better self-presentation of
ourselves (Kashy & DePaulo, 1996). We want to look better, smarter, more
capable, make a better impression than we believe our true character is capable
of (Whitty, 2008). We can thus expect that women will lie more often to men,
and vice versa (hypothesis H2). In this context we also expect men to lie more
often about their employment, education and income – to increase their appeal
to the opposite gender (hypothesis H3), while women will more often “alter”
their age and appearance (H4). We did not investigate the sexual orientation of
respondents, these hypotheses however assume the majority of respondents to
be heterosexual. Rowatt, Cunningham, and Druen (1999) describe the
motivation to be compatible with wishes and expectations of other people, to
avoid disappointment. Joinson and Dietz-Uhler (2002) consider the possibility of
psychiatric diseases which manifest on the internet as attention-seeking by
deceiving others or e.g. in the form of simulating an illness (or a problem) and
then enjoying the help of various support groups.
Another possible reason for (not)lying could be the wish to express one’s true
self. The internet could be considered a virtual laboratory for the discovery and
experimentation with various versions of self in relative safety. Higgins (1987)
distinguishes between the ideal, the ought and the actual self-concepts. The
ideal self contains those qualities which an individual is trying to attain, the
ought self those which he should attain and the actual self those which he
currently has. Bargh, McKenna and Fitzsimons (2002) in their research not only
expand on Higgins’ theory, but also on Carl Rogers and his concept of one’s true
self which includes some unexpressed qualities and characteristics, usually not
represented in front of others. The authors believe that internet communication
allows one to better express one’s true self. An individual’s true self is more
active during internet communication than when communicating face to face.
Based on Bargh et al. (2002), we feel a real need for being seen by others in the
same way we see ourselves, which is also supported by findings of Siibak
(2009). However, some people find it hard to express their true self in the social
environment in the real world, which could result in social anxiety. Interaction
through the internet can thus serve as a form of protection or manner for
temporary reduction of this anxiety. Amichai-Hamburger, Wainapel, and Fox
(2002) support the results of Bargh et al. and prove that it is mostly introverts
who have a greater tendency for situating their true self online. At the same
time, people who consider it easier to express their true self on the internet than
in real life are more open to creating close relationships with people they meet
online (McKenna, Green & Gleason, 2002).
Whitty and Gavin (2001) also considered lying about one’s identity for security
reasons, typical especially for women. Women can thus more explicitly express
sexual desires, without fear of negative consequences (forced sex, pregnancy).
Tyler and Feldman (2004) as well as DePaulo and Kashy (1998) noticed the
importance of the actual recipient of lies. It is easier and more common to lie to
individuals to whom we have no emotional link and who we are not familiar
with. On the other hand, it is harder to lie to those we consider close to us, or
who are members of a certain community (be it real or virtual) where we have
been meeting them for some time.
Particularities of virtual environments and possibilites of lying
The research of lies on internet servers cannot be carried out without first
looking at the specifics of individual virtual environments in which people are
most often found. Each of them can then influence the user with their character
to act a certain way. If the environment is interpreted as highly unreliable, the
user does not have many reasons to act differently either. This representation
is, in our opinion, one of the possible factors influencing behavior in such
environments. For some internet groups, the norms could be apparent and
unambiguous. An important role is played by the consistency of a group as well
as the frequency of meetings. If the group has existed for some time and the
members of the group do not change too often, norms are “clearer”. On the
other hand, groups meeting ad hoc or short-term groups and collectives
generally have less clear norms (Reicher, 1987). These groups are quite
frequent on the internet; open communities are common on the internet. We
come in contact with such open communities commonly on the internet, much
more often than with closed groups.
The most typical and also oldest representative of internet communication is the
well-known email. It is common to have more than one e-mail address, whereas
the difference lies usually in the amount of information these addresses provide
about their owners. As Utz (2004) points out, people intentionally distinguish
which email address to use for specific situations. Various email addresses can
also be used for experimentation with one’s identity, especially during
Chat rooms are unambiguously the least reliable source of information about the
user. The created accounts do not usually serve a long-term purpose, and so
they are frequently used for experimentation with identities. This is also related
to the expectation of users about the reliability of provided data, which are not
usually very high. However, Rollman, Krug, and Parente (2000) claim that
gender had no influence on the communication in chat rooms – their results
originate from monitoring the reaction speed of males to messages from
females and from the absence of common courtesies between men and women.
The authors explain these results by the near-impossibility of verifying the
actual gender of other users. We can thus expect chats to be the least reliant
source of information of all our environments (H5).
Discussion forums typically focus on a certain specified area of problems or
subjects. They can focus on the resolution of certain types of problems, hobbies
etc. Here, similarly to the situation on “self-presentation servers”, users most
often represent themselves, especially if they wish to remain active on the
server for a longer period of time. Reputation systems are not uncommon either
– if the user helps someone, he will receive positive feedback on his profile,
leading to a gradual increase in respect. This also forces users to behave in
accordance with proper social conventions. Motives often include the wish to be
admired and respected by others (Ekman, 1997; DePaulo, Kirkendol, Kashy,
Wyer, & Epstein, 1996). In contrast to chats, discussion forums can thus be
expected to be relatively reliable (H6).
The environment of computer games is special by its often competitive character
and by the relatively large representation of men in this environment - Griffiths,
Davies, and Chappell. (2004) claim that up to 81% of players are men.
According to Blinka (2008), 96% women play a character of the female sex, but
only 77% men play a character of the male sex. Since online computer games
can be considered typically masculine, we can expect this to effect behavior to
women – playthings. Women or girls are relatively rare in such environments,
and thus can receive special attention and benefits. We presume that boys will
lie more often than girls in playing computer games (H7).
Instant messengers (e.g. ICQ, MSN) form a very popular form of synchronous
communication. This manner of communication has a more private character
than the other environments. Communication most often occurs between people
who already know each in real life – friends, family, peers. Instant messaging
can be used as another level of communication e.g. after meeting someone in
the other community environments. Norms are not explicitly listed here,
however thanks to a limited feeling of anonymity and the possibility of recording
communication (Jeffrey, Jennifer, & Thompson, 2004), we can expect a
relatively stable environment with a low frequency of lies. We expect IM to be
one of the more reliable means of communication, contrary to chats (H8).
The various aforementioned motives usually do not strictly occur only in the
individual types of listed environments – such motives can blend together.
Method and research sample
The presented research was realized by the survey, which is part of the wider
framework of the World Internet Project: Czech Republic 2007. Data of the
survey was collected by face-to-face structured interviews. The respondents
were asked to select the appropriate answer for our created questions related to
the respondents' lying online. The original selection sample included 1692
individuals of 12 and older, and is representative for the Czech Republic by the
criteria of gender, education, age, region and domicile of the respondent. Of this
sample, we have selected those who have answered positively to the question
“Do you personally use the internet, meaning web sites, e-mail or any other part
of the internet at home or any other location?” The results were elaborated for
914 users of the Czech internet, which form 54% of the original sample. Of
these respondents, we have selected for in-depth analyses those who positively
answered to the question: “Sometimes people lie on the internet. Have you told
anyone a lie on the internet in the last 6 months?” We have also asked the
respondents: “Who have you most often lied to? To a man, woman, or everyone
in the appropriate environment?” For measuring the level of occurrence of
various subjects of lies, we have asked about lying in each of the various
communication environments separately. The environments were: e-mail, chat,
discussion forums, IM, computer games. The list of chosen subjects included:
age, gender, work, education, income, physical appearance. The results were
compared for men and women as well as for the age groups of adolescence (12-
18), emerging adulthood (19-26) and adulthood (27 and older). The number of
men and women in individual age categories is listed in Table 1.
Table 1: Selected sample
In this chapter, we describe the frequency of lying on the internet in the Czech
population, emphasizing the differences between men and women and between
various age groups. We are aware that several other studies on a similar subject
were already carried out (Whitty Gavin 2001; Whitty 2002; Caspi & Gorsky
2006), however we have included this part due to some ambiguous results in
Our results indicate that approximately 18% of internet users list untrue
information about themselves, of that 21% are men and 15.8% are women, χ2
(d.f.= 1) = 4,122; p < 0,05. Relatively large differences can be seen in various
age groups, see table 2, χ2 (d.f.= 2) = 36,152; p < 0,001. About one third of
users below 26 years of age admit lying on the internet, whereas the ratio is
much lower for adults (12.3%) and notable differences can be seen between the
groups of adolescents and adults, χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 29,193; p < 0,001, as well as
the groups of young adults and users aged 27 and over, χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 20,596;
p < 0,001. Hypothesis H1 – that younger users would lie more often than older
ones – has thus been confirmed. Men aged 19-26 years are an exception, since
they lied more often than boys ages 12-18.
If we look at the structure by gender (Table 2), differences persist for men, χ2
(d.f.= 2) = 23,511; p < 0,001, as well as women, χ2 (d.f.= 2) = 15,735; p <
0,001. In accordance with the previous model, a higher frequency of lying can
be seen for men between 12 and 26 (although the frequency still slightly grows
in the period of “emerging adulthood”), and the typical decline after 27 years of
age. For women, the situation is different – there is an almost linear decrease in
frequency of lies with age. The difference thus manifests especially in the middle
group (in other words, while men keep their frequency of lies up until they
become adults, we see a gradual reduction of the frequency of lies for women).
Table 2: Frequencies and percents of liars for individual age groups by gender
Recipient of lies
It is noticeable that men lie most often to women, or eventually that their lie
has a “global character”, or in other words is not addressed to any individual but
rather everyone present in a given environment (Table 3). Women admit lying
to individuals of the opposite gender in a similar frequency, however they do not
tend to make “global lies” as often and have approximately only half the
frequency of men in this respect, χ2 (d.f.= 2) = 31,634; p < 0,001. This trend
can be seen in every age group in our study. Hypothesis H2 has also been
confirmed. Lying to the other gender is many times more frequent than lying to
the same gender.
Table 3: Recipient of lies
Subjects of lies and the internet environment
We have focused on comparing various age groups in our study; this might help
better understand possible developmental stages typical for each such stage.
When comparing general frequencies of lying between men and women on
various subjects, we have found no significant differences, except for the case of
men lying more often than women about their income, χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 6,009; p
< 0,05. However, due to the number of respondents we do not consider this
slight difference too significant.
Table 4 summarizes the basic differences between individual age groups for
each subject of lies. The highest rate of lying about one’s age is found in the
group of youngest women. In the age group of 12-27, the rate of lying radically
surpasses the rate of lying of adults. An exception would be the group of women
aged 19-26, where no differences were found, respectively were not significant,
χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 5,809; p = 0,016.
Our second monitored subject of lying was one’s gender (so-called gender-
swapping). This phenomenon was so rare in our study that the following results
are only listed for illustrative purposes. Men (χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 46,129; p < 0,001)
and women (χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 7,040; p < 0,01) aged 12-18 both lied about their
gender more often than adults (27 and over). While emerging adult men (19-
26) lied more often about their gender than adult men, χ2 (d.f.= 1) = 24,031; p
< 0,001, we did not see a similar effect for women.
In comparison with the group of adults, lying about one’s work or school is much
more typical for men and women in the age group of 12 to 26. The highest
representation can be seen in the group of men aged 19-26. Education is often
the subject of lies for men in the same age category, for women we found no
differences in this respect though. The same group of men aged 19-26 is also
the most frequent liar with regards to income.
Lying about one’s appearance is notable for adolescents and young adults; both
these age groups lie many times more often than adults.
Hypothesis H3 – that men would lie more often about their employment,
education and income – has been partially confirmed. It seems the hypothesis
holds for education and income, but not for employment. The increased
frequency in lies was only present in the age group of 19-26 however.
Hypothesis H4 – that women would lie more often about their age and
appearance than men – has not been confirmed.
Table 4: Differences between age groups with regards to lying
We have also compared the frequency of lying in various forms of
communication on the internet, in various age groups and with respect to the
respondent’s gender and the subject of lies (Table 5). The numbers in the table
list the percents of positive answers listed in each of the subjects. We select
only the most frequently listed subjects of lies from our results, for age
categories as well as for the respondent’s gender. We denote the percents
representing the highest rate of lying of all internet environments. We do not list
significance in individual groups due to the low expected frequencies in some
groups, the results are thus only illustrative. The highlighted percents will help
our orientation in individual environments on the internet, where the followed
subjects of lies most often occur. It is clear that, in total, the least lies can be
found in email communication. The highest frequency of lies is to be found in
chats, hypothesis H5 has thus been confirmed. Lying through IM and on internet
forums is much more frequent than expected, and so we must reject hypothesis
H6, however hypothesis H8 has been confirmed even despite the higher
frequency of lies on IM. In these two environments one must also take into
account the age of lying users, which in most cases did not exceed 26 years.
Lying in computer games is relatively rare, and similarly to emails is most often
practiced by men, hypothesis H7 thus holds. The environment of computer
games is also the only place where men lied about their gender much more
often than women.
If we then give a closer look to the individual types of lies and age groups, we
find that in chat rooms women and men aged 12-18 most often provide untrue
information about their age (31-34 %). Chat rooms are also visited by emerging
adult men, who lie about their age in up to 28% of cases, and also about their
education, income and appearance in 14-17 % of cases. Women in this age
often alter their physical appearance (31 %), as well as their age (27 %) and
job (15 %). Similarly, women aged 19-26 lie about their age, education and
appearance through IM. The frequency of lying of men and women aged over 27
usually does not exceed 7 % of cases in various internet environments. For this
age group, the most frequent type of lies would be lying about their age on chat
rooms (15-24 %).
Table 5: Percentages of lying in various environments of the internet in relation
to various subjects of lies, gender and age groups
In our study, 18% of all respondents admit that during the last 6 months they
lied to others in the environment of the internet. On the other hand, another
study (Caspi & Gorsky 2006) lists lying in up to 29% of all respondents. If you
consider in more detail the age differences in the research sample, the study of
these Israeli authors notes that age increase correlated with a reduction of the
frequency of lying, especially after the 30th year. This tendency is also evident
in our respondents, however with a slight increase in the period of young
adulthood for men. This deviation may have been hidden by the high
representation of women in their sample (68%). Differences between people
aged less than 26 and adults could also be results of the differences in places
visited on the internet. Younger adults and adolescents spend more time with
non-job-related communication, and we also need to take into account free-time
activities. While adolescents and young adults spend more time entertaining
themselves, individuals over 30 more often spend their time with founding
families, developing their careers etc.
Caspi and Gorsky (2006) also claim, quite interestingly, that online lying is
considered a widespread phenomenon, something 73% of their respondents
agree with. Authors have two explanations for the discrepancy between the
documented ratio of lying and the perceived wide spread of lying on the
internet. One reason is, they believe, that the respondents may have
experienced being lied to in some damaging manner, which could have lead to
an over-generalization of this phenomenon. The other explanation could be that
such a negative picture of the internet is the result of its presentation as a
highly unstable environment by the media. Such a negative presentation of
internet environments can influence the behavior or expectations of those
visiting these environments.
If we focus on the differences between the lying of men and women in the
environment of the internet, Caspi & Gorsky (2006) identified no statistically
relevant differences. The results of our study correspond with the concluding
notes of these authors. In our case, we did notice a difference on a significance
level of p < 0,05, this is however insignificant with respect to the number of
respondents. Similar results are also noted by e.g. Whitty and Gavin (2001) and
Whitty (2002), however their findings are on a similarly low significance level.
Additionally, both these studies were primarily focused on the area of chat
rooms, the first even more specifically emphasized the study of relations in chat
rooms. The differences between the frequency of lying between men and women
aged 19-26 are quite interesting. While men seem to keep their tendency to lie
up until they become adults, women have a gradual decrease in theirs.
Substantial differences are noted between recipients of lies. As far as lying to
individuals of the opposite gender goes, we found no significant differences
between men and women. Women lie more often to other women, while men lie
as often to both men and women. One of several motives is making the liar look
more attractive. While lying to a person of the opposite gender occurs most
often to increase one’s own (sexual or partner) appeal, lying to “everyone” has a
much broader range. Here one’s appeal can be increased as a whole, not just on
a sexual level. Individuals (seemingly) educated, financially secured etc. can be
through a projection of sorts expected to also have properties linked with these
positive properties (being pretty, good etc.), leading to an idealization of the
object. The other possible cause for lying could be entertainment.
Our results partially correspond with the conclusions on lying about one’s age
(Caspi & Gorsky, 2006; Gross, 2004; Valkenbur, Schoulen, & Peter, 2005;
Whitty, 2002), where younger users lie more often than older ones. Direct
comparison is however not completely possible. Whitty included all ages
between 21 and 50 in the “older” age category, whereas our results (as well as
Caspi’s and Gorsky’s) indicate that there are significant differences especially
between the age groups of 20-30 and above 30. Caspi and Gorsky used age
categories similar to ours, our results differentiate from theirs in comparable
categories in ranges between 7.7% and 3.6%.
Playing different identities is, based on Caspi and Gorsky (2006), often a motive
for gender swapping. If we look at results for individual environments, it is
noticeable that this phenomenon is very rare (peaking in computer games with
a 6% rate for men) and almost entirely the domain of men. These results
correlate very well with the findings of Whitty (2002). We believe that a higher
occurrence of this phenomenon in this almost purely masculine environment is
caused by a higher motivation from potential benefits for women in this
environment (help with in-game tasks, in-game money loans or donations etc.).
A small exception is the age group of women aged 12-18 in chat rooms, where
the expected reason would be playing another identity.
Lying about employment, education and income occurs, based on our results,
most often in the group of men (fully in agreement with the study of Whitty
(2002) aged 19-26 in the environment of chat rooms, which is typical for
creating relationships. Caspi and Gorsky (2006) relate lying about employment
etc. with playing other identities, which is perceived as a game. To a much
smaller extent, they believe lying occurs to increase one’s attractiveness or
status. This is why we believe that lying about the aforementioned areas has a
direct link with increasing the man’s social attractiveness in this age with a
notable influence of stereotype sexual patterns. A pursuit of one’s attractiveness
is also related to lying about one’s physical appearance, which is most prevalent
in the age groups between 12 and 26 years of age.
For various age groups we can thus differentiate various areas about which they
feel the need to lie – for the youngest group it is age and physical appearance
(most often in chat rooms, especially those designated for meeting people). The
middle group has shifted its priorities towards the “stable manifestations of
adulthood” – education, income. This is true especially for men; women do not
feel the urge to lie about their age, however they do tend to lie about their
appearance sometimes. For the oldest age group, hot topics in lying include age,
income for men and attractiveness for women.
The frequency of lying in various environments is influenced by several effects.
One of these is the frequency of individuals in various age groups actually
visiting these environments, and also how much time they spend here. This
should, e.g. in the case of discussion forums, also affect the degree of one’s
identification with a group and adherence to certain norms. In discussion forums
however we have paradoxically found a relatively high frequency of lying,
especially for the youngest users. Additionally, lying about one’s age could have
a completely different motivation when compared to lying about one’s age in
chats – age can significantly affect the weight of arguments in discussions. The
second is the subject or theme of a given internet environment. Chat rooms and
IM are typical representatives of “informal communication”, often serving for
entertainment or meeting new people. In such environments, lying is often
much easier than e.g. on discussion forums. Lying in computer games is very
interesting for its unique (yet still quite rare) phenomenon of gender-swapping
of boys. A relatively high unreliability of e-mails found in our study contrasts the
findings of Jeffrey et al. (2002), as well our expectations – we thought that
especially for adolescents and younger adults the e-mail represented a more
formal means of communication than e.g. IM.
A certain limitation of the study is also the neglecting of social networks,
however during this research only an insignificant percentage of users in the
Czech Republic utilize social networks. Social networking has increased in
popularity only this year.
Our results indicate that the internet as a whole has no or minimal effect on the
subjects which adolescents or young adults deal with. Lies appear in all
environments with various frequencies, and lying itself is thus influenced mostly
by the topics usually discussed in these environments. For adolescents and
emerging adults, the internet represents a place for consulting subjects
important for their current stage of life. Internet environments allow to e.g.
increase one’s appeal by lying about age or physical appearance, something
very important for individuals in this age group. It also offers the possibility to
experiment with relationships, also a key factor in this age. A clear overlap of
real life into the internet is visible here – its environment forms an ideal
mediating ground for tackling these subjects.
The author acknowledges the support of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth
and Sports (MSM0021622406 and 1P05ME751) and the Faculty of Social
Studies, Masaryk University.
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