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Cyber Ethics: Nurturing Responsible and Legal Internet Usage


Dec 12, 2016 | #1

Cyber Ethics



The internet has changed the world. It has changed the way in which human beings communicate, it has changed the way in which we transfer information and it has in essence, changed the way we conduct our daily lives. The internet spans geographic locations and it figuratively has made the world a smaller place. Despite these major paradigm shifts, the internet is still in its infancy. As a relatively new innovation, there are still few laws and restrictions on its usage. More so than other aspects of society, ethical usage and self policing of how the innovation is utilized is of the utmost importance. The internet is a valuable tool for communication, entertainment and getting information. However, like any innovation, it has a potential to be used improperly. Improper use of the internet can result in criminal activity, corruption, bullying, social isolation and other negative constructs. With the internet being a mainstay in modern society and a central element in the lives of young people, it is necessary to teach cyber ethics in a comprehensive manner to mitigate some of the problems associated with internet usage. To demonstrate the need for a greater attention to cyber ethics in general curriculum for young people and new internet users, this work will frame the cyber ethic phenomenon in the following components: changing definitions of ethics, changing notions of commodities and changing modalities of communication. Within each of these contexts, there is the potential for internet related abuse that necessitates the consideration of cyber ethics.

Ethics OnlineEthics in general is a complicated subject with much relativity present specific to the beholder of a certain matter. Further complicating the general subject of ethics is the new and vastly uncharted waters of the virtual world. Ethics requires that "the virtues we need to achieve both personal and common moral goods recognize networks of dependence based upon bodily vulnerability and disability" (Frohman). All human systems are contingent on inter-connectivity between variables related to other human systems. The internet has created a virtual world that has vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Privacy, for example, can be completely violated in an unprecedented manner with little threat to the person imposing on another individual. In some cases, this can be criminal and in other cases, it simply can be an unwanted invasion that would not have been so easy if there was not an innovation pertaining to getting virtual information. Beyond privacy, there is the free flow of information and user generated content that is available on the Internet. Whereas virtually all other forms of media have some type of content provisions to check for accuracy, the Internet has no such safeguards. Individuals are free to publish whatever information they choose. This information can even be false. While false information on a cursory glance may appear relatively benign, more people are getting their information from the internet and if they do not have the ability to judge information both for reliability and ethics, a serious problem manifests. According to Smith, in a study of adolescents for a popular peer reviewed journal, most students admit learning about human sexual relations and reproductions from the internet (1). Though serving a central role in what they know about sex, there is no guarantee that what they have learned is either valid or reliable.

Even if the information being digested online is true, there are potentially harmful elements of information that are being read and disseminated. For example, an internet user can find information on revenge, making bombs or other hateful activity. It is both an issue of cyber ethics on the publishing end of that information and what is done with that information on the receiving end. Literally, how the Internet is used and how the information is used that can be gained from the internet is all a subject of ethics that was not present only a generation prior. As a result, the way in which the internet and ethics interact is new and therefore necessitates attention. While there is clearly a paradigm shift that has taken place in ethics as a result of the internet, there is also a changing ethical domain of intellectual property and media ownership. Who owns what material and how that material is valued as a commodity has been forever changed by the internet.

Music, which was once traded as a commodity in some physical form, like a CD or a record, is now primarily disseminated as digital files. This has changed the entire music industry as it is now easy for individuals to connect via the internet and share files illegally with one another. The value of the product has diminished because users can now get it for free with little effort. The same problems are now happening for e-books and other forms of media. Physical copies of media are now going digital and how to make those items profitable still is difficult. Lack of ethical behavior has changed this. The same people that feel it would be unethical to walk into a store and steal a CD do not see it as being the same to steal a song digitally from the internet without paying. Though they are both illegal, the perception is different. Kruger explains that stopping online piracy can only be accomplished through teaching cyber ethics and digital property rights to students (188). Laws are important, however, people have to truly believe their behavior is unethical if they are going to stop in a sufficiently robust manner to stop the negative conditions surrounding digital value.

"Plagiarism is a complex issue in need of reexamination" (Evering & Moorman 35). While this is true within the context of the internet, what constitutes plagiarism is often difficult to access. For students, it has long been known that any form of academic dishonesty is a major breech of ethics (35). In some institutions of higher learning, it is grounds for immediate expulsion. With the internet, however, there is now far more varying degrees of plagiarism. In the most serious of forms, it would include taking someone else's work in significant portions and passing it off as one's own. In less serious constructs, it can be unintentional lack of citations from sources gained from using the internet. The internet is now a common research tool used by most students in secondary and post secondary education (40). There is likely to be some degree of confusion or plagiarism due to the nature of the information age. Cyber ethics, however, can help students decrease their propensity for unethical behavior in regards to plagiarism and it can establish foundations for establishing the serious nature of such an offense. According to Evering and Moorman, "Knowing students will utilize technology for writing and research, instruction should aim at demystifying the concept of plagiarism while at the same time improving students' research and writing skills" (35). Unknowing students, in this context, would be those unfamiliar with cyber ethics. Beyond the intellectual property issue stands a much more basic notion regarding the need for cyber ethics, this is a changing pattern of human communication and interaction in virtual communities.

In both personal and professional worlds, people are now communicating more using the internet. This includes social media usage and it also includes email, video chatting, instant messaging and other connected forms of interaction. Wilxzenski and Coomey demonstrated how this changed the notion of school counseling as a discipline. According to the authors, the internet has changed: curriculum delivery, supervision, professional development and it has changed interactions among counselors, school personnel, parents, educators and field supervisors (327). Literally, every aspect of the position has changed. Who sees what information and what information is shared necessitates both professional discretion and legal discretion. The dominant aspects of social relationships have been changed from a hierarchical model into a more flattened modality of communication (Gertz 1). The health care industry in particular has truly changed in terms of communication with patient health files now being stored and shared in a virtual capacity. The age of the file in a cabinet at a singular location under a locked key is no longer relevant.

With internet based communications, the fact that is is both used for private, entertainment and work use means that different approaches to communication norms have to be followed. Much in the same way a person would not address their boss in the same manner they would address their friend, there are problems related to informal speech and communications being used by young people when a computer is involved. Regardless of a the communication medium, the person receiving the communication needs to be given the proper respect they would be in person. The lack of physical contact and proximity to an individual has made it somewhat easier for people to "speak their mind" or say things they would generally not say to a person "in the flesh." Cyber ethics is mindful of the anonymity of the internet and its potential to directly attack an individual. For young people, the issue of cyber bulling has manifested from these confines. Bullying is no longer simply stealing lunch money or pushing someone down, it can be sharing hateful information or media regarding a person to large networks at a click of a button.

The new form of communication ushered in by the internet has created virtual communities. These communities have been successful for distance learning, distance business conduct and also for finding people who have the same interests. People retreating into the virtual world has the propensity to hamper their development in the real world. For example, the already strained relationship between parent and adolescent communication has been reported by Appel et al. as being further confounded by the internet (1641). In this equation, the more time a young person spends on line, the more difficulty the researchers found they have communicating with their parents (1641). For people who lack social skills, however, it has also created an environment where they can feel safe and find other like minded individuals. While this can be empowering, it can also be the virtual equivalent of "hanging out with the wrong crowd." In a study conducted by Adler and Adler, it was found that self injurers and other deviants are using the internet to form sub cultures (35). Finding subcultures on the internet is not a benign activity as it is common knowledge that internet communication has been a tool used for criminal activity recruitment, political action and terrorist activity. According to Adler and Adler, "Va the Web, they have become cyber 'colleagues,' simultaneously enacting two deviant organizational forms and challenging the idea that deviant loners can exist in a cyber society" (35). With attention to cyber ethics, individuals using the internet to connect with other people will have the knowledge at their disposal to first judge the validity of ideology presented by those groups and they will be better able to know when the virtual world should not manifest into mainstream society. While ethics stands as a discipline unto itself, its basic premises have to be expanded into the cyber world in order for it to have relevance in one of the most revolutionary innovations of the modern world.

"The internet is an integral tool for information, communication and entertainment among adolescents. As adolescents devote increasing amounts of time to utilizing the internet, the risk for adopting excessive and pathological internet use is inherent" (Tsistikia, Critseils et al. 655). When the changes that the internet has made to definitions of ethics, commodity value and communication are considered, it becomes clear that it is necessary to teach cyber ethics in a comprehensive manner to mitigate some of the problems associated with internet usage. While this is necessary, agreeing on how this should be done and what is the most efficacious manner to do so is not an agreed upon element. Ethics, in general, has a relative designation and not everyone sees cyber ethics the same. When there is not an agreed upon context for cyber ethics, this means that teaching the principles of it will be very difficult. This is not unique to the internet, however. In society, laws are made to protect the general good of the population based on certain ethical principles. Though not all individuals share these same ethics, there is enough uniformity to make a relevant code of conduct. The internet is no exception to this rule.

Most of the more overt context of cyber ethical violations can be expressed in terms of legality and illegality. Focusing on what is illegal would be a good start for establishing a cyber ethics curriculum. For example, it is illegal to use the internet to reproduce intellectual property without the proper rights, to plagiarize, to steal copyright protected media and to harass other individuals. In addition, it is illegal to use information from the internet to commit crimes in the real world. To establish such norms is the foundation for cyber ethics. While this is a start, it is only a beginning, it is also necessary for those gray eras to be self judged and monitored by informed individuals. If people are aware of the implications of their actions and how those relate to the general well being of society, it is possible that they will be in a better position to make ethical decisions. Just like people are called upon to make ethical decisions regarding conduct each day in their lives, the cyber world needs to have the same focus. At the present time, there is a division in the public's perspective regarding ethics and cyber ethics. There should be no division in terms of their importance. Unethical behavior is unethical regardless of the medium in which it is using. Rather than the "do not" approach to cyber ethics currently used by schools and organizations, it is better to use a proactive approach to help facilitate decision making regarding cyber ethics. The internet is still in its infancy and at the present time, cyber ethics needs to catch up and then grow proportionately to the evolution of the innovation.

Works Cited

Adler, Patrica & Peter Adler. "The Cyber Worlds of Self Injurers: Deviant Communities, Relationships and Self." Symbolic Interaction. 31.1 35-56.

Appel, Maruks, Peter Holtz, Barbara Stiglbauer and Bernad Batinic. "Parents as a Resource: Communication Affects the Relationship Between Adolescents' Internet Use and Loneliness." Journal of Adolescence. 35.6, 1641.

Evering, Lea & Gary Moorman (2012). "Rethinking Plagiarism in the Digital Age." Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 56.1 (2012), 35-44.

Frohmann, Bernd. "Cyber Ethics: Bodies or Bytes." The International Review and Library Review. 32.3-4, 423-435. Gertz, Robert R. "Moral code: The design and social values of the Internet" Temple University, 1 - 45.

Hirabayashi, Shota & Toshiki Matsuda. "Constructing Design Principles for Developing Gaming Instructional Materials for Making Cyber Ethics Education Authentic." Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corproate Government. 2.1 1280-1288.

Kruger, Robert. "Discussing Cyber Ethics With Students is Critical." The Social Studies 94.4, 188-189. Smith, Marshall David. "Adolescents Learning About Sex- Broadband Internet Access, Sexual Education, Moral Panic and Youth Citizenship." University of Colorado. (2004), 1-55. Tsitsika, Artemis, Elena Critseils et al.

"Internet Use and Misue: A Multivariate Regression Analysis of the Predictive Factors of Internet use Among Greek Adolescents." European Journal of Pediatrics. 168, 655-665.

Wilxzenski, Felicia & Susan M. Coomey. "Cyber Communication: Finding its Place in School Counseling Practice." Professional School Counseling 9.4, 327-331.

WORKING OUTLINE WORKSHEET



Pattern of Development: Persuasion

Thesis statement: With the internet being a mainstay in modern society and a central element in the lives of young people, it is necessary to teach cyber ethics in a comprehensive manner to mitigate some of the problems associated with internet usage.

Introduction

Attention material: The Internet has changed the world. It has changed the way in which human beings communicate, it has changed the way in which we transfer information and it has in essence, changed the way we conduct our daily lives. The Internet spans geographic locations and it literally has made the world a smaller place. Despite these major paradigm shifts, the Internet is still in its infancy. As a relatively new innovation, there is still few laws and restrictions on its usage. More so than other aspects of society, ethical usage and self policing of how the innovation is utilized is of the utmost importance. The internet is a valuable tool for communication, entertainment and getting information. However, like any innovation, it has a potential to be used improperly. Improper use of the internet can result in criminal activity, corruption, bullying, social isolation and other negative constructs. With the internet being a mainstay in modern society and a central element in the lives of young people, it is necessary to teach cyber ethics in a comprehensive manner to mitigate some of the problems associated with internet usage.

Preview: To demonstrate the need for a greater attention to cyber ethics in general curriculum for young people and new internet users, this work will frame the cyber ethic phenomenon in the following components: changing definitions of ethics, changing notions of commodities and changing modalities of communication. Within each of these contexts, there is the potential for internet related abuse that necessitates the consideration of cyber ethics.

Transition to Body and Main Point I:

Ethics in general is a complicated subject with much relativity present specific to the beholder of a certain matter. Further complicating the general subject of ethics is the new and vastly uncharted waters of the virtual world.

Main Point I: Ethics requires that "the virtues we need to achieve both personal and common moral goods recognize networks of dependence based upon bodily vulnerability and disability" (Frohman 423).

Supporting Point A: All human systems are contingent on interconnectivity between variables related to other human systems. The internet has created a virtual world that has vulnerabilities that can be exploited

Subpoint a.: In some cases this can be criminal in nature.

Subpoint b.: In other cases this can simply be an unwanted invasion that would not have been so easy if there was not an innovation pertaining to getting virtual information.

Supporting Point B: Beyond privacy, there is the free flow of information and user generated content that is available on the Internet. Whereas virtually all other forms of media have some type of content provisions to check for accuracy, the Internet has no such safeguards. Individuals are free to publish whatever information they choose.

Subpoint a.: There are no safeguards to check for accuracy. Individuals are free to publish what they want and this information can be false.

Subpoint b.: Even in those cases where the information may be true, there is potentially harmful information that can be harvested from the internet. or example, an internet user can find information on revenge, making bombs or other hateful activity. It is both an issue of cyber ethics on the publishing end of that information and what is done with that information on the receiving end.

Transition to Main Point II: While there is clearly a paradigm shift that has taken place in ethics as a result of the internet, there is also a changing ethical domain of intellectual property and media ownership.

Main Point II:: Who owns what material and how that material is valued as a commodity has been forever changed by the internet.

Supporting Point A: Music, which was once traded as a commodity in some physical form, like a CD or a record, is now primarily disseminated as digital files.

Subpoint a.: This has changed the entire music industry as it is now easy for individuals to connect via the internet and share files illegally with one another.

Subpoint b.: Physical copies of media are now going digital and how to make those items profitable still is difficult. Lack of ethical behavior has changed this. The same people that feel it would be unethical to walk into a store and steal a CD do not see it as being the same to steal a song digitally from the internet without paying. Though they are both illegal, the perception is different.

Supporting Point B: "Plagiarism is a complex issue in need of reexamination" (Evering & Moorman 35). While this is true within the context of the internet, what constitutes plagiarism is often difficult to access.

Subpoint a.: In some institutions of higher learning, it is grounds for immediate expulsion. With the internet, however, there is now far more varying degrees of plagiarism. In the most serious of forms, it would include taking someone else's work in significant portions and passing it off as one's own. In less serious constructs, it can be unintentional lack of citations from sources gained from using the internet.

Subpoint b.: he internet is now a common research tool used by most students in secondary and post secondary education (40). There is likely to be some degree of confusion or plagiarism due to the nature of the information age. Cyber ethics, however, can help students decrease their propensity for unethical behavior in regards to plagiarism and it can establish foundations for establishing the serious nature of such an offense

Transition to Main Point III:

Beyond the intellectual property issue stands a much more basic notion regarding the need for cyber ethics, this is a changing pattern of human communication and interaction in virtual communities.

Main Point III:: In both personal and professional worlds, people are now communicating more using the internet. This includes social media usage and it also includes email, video chatting, instant messaging and other connected forms of interaction.

Supporting Point A: Wilxzenski and Coomey demonstrated how this changed the notion of school counseling as a discipline. According to the authors, the internet has changed: curriculum delivery, supervision, professional development and it has changed interactions among counselors, school personnel, parents, educators and field supervisors (327). Literally, every aspect of the position has changed.

Subpoint a.: Who sees what information and what information is shared necessitates both professional discretion and legal discretion. The dominant aspects of social relationships have been changed from a hierarchical model into a more flattened modality of communication (Gertz 1).

Subpoint b.: With internet based communications, the fact that is is both used for private, entertainment and work use means that different approaches to communication norms have to be followed. Much in the same way a person would not address their boss in the same manner they would address their friend, there are problems related to informal speech and communications being used by young people when a computer is involved.

Supporting Point B: The new form of communication ushered in by the internet has created virtual communities. These communities have been successful for distance learning, distance business conduct and also for finding people who have the same interests.

Subpoint a.: People retreating into the virtual world has the propensity to hamper their development in the real world. For example, the already strained relationship between parent and adolescent communication has been reported by Appel et al. as being further confounded by the internet (1641). In this equation, the more time a young person spends on line, the more difficulty the researchers found they have communicating with their parents (1641).

Subpoint b.: For people who lack social skills, however, it has also created an environment where they can feel safe and find other like minded individuals. While this can be empowering, it can also be the virtual equivalent of "hanging out with the wrong crowd." In a study conducted by Adler and Adler, it was found that self injurers and other deviants are using the internet to form sub cultures (35). Finding subcultures on the internet is not a benign activity as it is common knowledge that internet communication has been a tool used for criminal activity recruitment, political action and terrorist activity.

Transition to the Conclusion:

While ethics stands as a discipline unto itself, its basic premises have to be expanded into the cyber world in order for it to have relevance in one of the most revolutionary innovations of the modern world.

Conclusion

SUMMARY

"The internet is an integral tool for information, communication and entertainment among adolescents. As adolescents devote increasing amounts of time to utilizing the internet, the risk for adopting excessive and pathological internet use is inherent" (Tsistikia, Critseils et al.). When the changes that the internet has made to definitions of ethics, commodity value and communication are considered, it becomes clear that it is necessary to teach cyber ethics in a comprehensive manner to mitigate some of the problems associated with internet usage. While this is necessary, agreeing on how this should be done and what is the most efficacious manner to do so is not an agreed upon element. Ethics, in general, has a relative designation and not everyone sees cyber ethics the same. When there is not an agreed upon context for cyber ethics, this means that teaching the principles of it will be very difficult. This is not unique to the internet, however. In society, laws are made to protect the general good of the population based on certain ethical principles. Though not all individuals share these same ethics, there is enough uniformity to make a relevant code of conduct. The internet is no exception to this rule.

Most of the more overt context of cyber ethical violations can be expressed in terms of legality and illegality. Focusing on what is illegal would be a good start for establishing a cyber ethics curriculum. For example, it is illegal to use the internet to reproduce intellectual property without the proper rights, to plagiarize, to steal copyright protected media and to harass other individuals. In addition, it is illegal to use information from the internet to commit crimes in the real world. To establish such norms is the foundation for cyber ethics. While this is a start, it is only a beginning, it is also necessary for those gray eras to be self judged and monitored by informed individuals. If people are aware of the implications of their actions and how those relate to the general well being of society, it is possible that they will be in a better position to make ethical decisions. Just like people are called upon to make ethical decisions regarding conduct each day in their lives, the cyber world needs to have the same focus. At the present time, there is a division in the public's perspective regarding ethics and cyber ethics. There should be no division in terms of their importance. Unethical behavior is unethical regardless of the medium in which it is using. Rather than the "do not" approach to cyber ethics currently used by schools and organizations, it is better to use a proactive approach to help facilitate decision making regarding cyber ethics. The internet is still in its infancy and at the present time, cyber ethics needs to catch up and then grow proportionately to the evolution of the innovation.




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