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Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap

Carrie James
foreword by Henry Jenkins
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Fresh from a party, a teen posts a photo on Facebook of a friend drinking a beer. A college student repurposes an article from Wikipedia for a paper. A group of players in a multiplayer online game routinely cheat new players by selling them worthless virtual accessories for high prices. InDisconnected, Carrie James examines how young people and the adults in their lives think about these sorts of online dilemmas, describing ethical blind spots and disconnects. Drawing on extensive interviews with young people between the ages of 10 and 25, James describes the nature of their thinking about privacy, property, and participation online. She identifies three ways that young people approach online activities. A teen might practiceself-focused thinking, concerned mostly about consequences for herself;moral thinking, concerned about the consequences for people he knows; orethical thinking, concerned about unknown individuals and larger communities. James finds, among other things, that youth are often blind to moral or ethical concerns about privacy; that attitudes toward property range from "what's theirs is theirs" to "free for all"; that hostile speech can be met with a belief that online content is "just a joke"; and that adults who are consulted about such dilemmas often emphasize personal safety issues over online ethics and citizenship. Considering ways to address the digital ethics gap, James offers a vision ofconscientious connectivity, which involves ethical thinking skills but, perhaps more important, is marked by sensitivity to the dilemmas posed by online life, a motivation to wrestle with them, and a sense of moral agency that supports socially positive online actions.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32556-1
    Subjects: Technology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)

    In recent years, digital media and networks have become embedded in our everyday lives and are part of broad-based changes in how we engage in knowledge production, communication, and creative expression. Unlike in the early years of the development of computers and computer-based media, digital media are nowcommonplaceandpervasive, having been taken up by a wide range of individuals and institutions in all walks of life. Digital media have escaped the boundaries of professional and formal practice and of the academic, governmental, and industry homes that initially fostered their development. Now they have been taken up by diverse...

  4. Foreword: What Were They Thinking?
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
    Henry Jenkins

    A working-class black woman lingered after I spoke about youth and digital media at Detroit’s Wayne State University. She pushed her way through the crowd to ask a simple question: “Will my boy be all right?”

    Her adolescent son spent a great deal of time online: talking with friends, building his home page, playing computer games, doing his homework. She had heard conflicting reports—teachers claiming Internet access fostered educational growth, and media reformers warning about teens “running amok” online. Like so many other parents, she worried that she was wrong to let her son explore cyberspace when she knew...

  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxx)
  6. 1 Morality, Ethics, and Digital Life
    (pp. 1-22)

    In September 2010, Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge in New York City. In the wake of his death, it came to light that his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had covertly set up a webcam on two separate occasions to view Clementi having sexual relations with a male partner. Moreover, via Twitter, Ravi had invited friends to the viewings and posted commentary. In March 2012, Ravi was convicted of privacy invasion and bias intimidation, both criminal offenses. In a public statement issued by his lawyer, Ravi apologized for the “thoughtless, insensitive, immature, stupid,...

  7. 2 Privacy
    (pp. 23-46)

    Imagine you are a varsity athlete at your college. Your team has a policy that prohibits going to a party before a game. This is also a dry policy for team members, age 21 and older, who drink alcohol. Your friends, who are not on the team, convince you to go to this week’s party, which is the night before a big playoff game. They tell you that no one, and certainly not your coach or your teammates, will know you were there.

    The next day, when you sign into your Facebook account, you see that one of your friends...

  8. 3 Property
    (pp. 47-72)

    Imagine you have a long-standing interest in economic development in Latin America and have been both reading and contributing to Wikipedia articles about Latin America for several months. Your history teacher recently assigned a research paper about poverty in Brazil, and you start your research by looking at the relevant Wikipedia article. Much of the article is content that you wrote a couple of months ago, and with the added work of other Wikipedia contributors, it has become very detailed and thoroughly cited. With a few adjustments here and there, the Wikipedia article would perfectly fulfill your teacher’s assignment. How,...

  9. 4 Participation
    (pp. 73-100)

    For the past two weeks, you have been playing an online multiplayer game that has about 30,000 members and takes place in a 3-D world. Yesterday you joined a club within the game. Your fellow club members, none of whom you know offline, seem very nice and have already given you lots of game advice as well as some useful equipment for your character.

    Buying, selling, and trading such equipment with other players is a fun and important part of the game, but there are few rules about trading, and exchanges don’t always end well for some players. You’ve noticed,...

  10. 5 Correcting the Blind Spots, Reconnecting the Disconnects
    (pp. 101-122)

    In August 2012, a heavily intoxicated teenage girl was sexually assaulted by high school football players after passing out at a party in Steubenville, Ohio. For several hours, she was dragged around, taken from party to party, and subjected to multiple acts of sexual violence. Several bystanders took photos and videos with their cell phones and shared them with others via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and text-messaging. One tweet read, “Song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana.” A 12½-minute video in which onlookers joked about the assaults was posted on YouTube. Although the parents, teachers, and coaches of...

  11. Appendix: About the Research
    (pp. 123-130)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 131-160)
  13. Index
    (pp. 161-168)