Safe online ethical code for and by the “net generation”: themes emerging from school students’ wisdom of the crowd

Abstract

Purpose Children are becoming heavy users of communication and information technologies from an early age. These technologies carry risks to which children may be exposed. In collaboration with the Israel Ministry of Education, the authors launched a week-long safe online awareness program for school children in 257 elementary and middle schools in Israel. Each class independently composed a safe and ethical code of online behavior following two classroom debate sessions. The purpose of this study was to analyze these codes and learn how school children perceive and understand the proper use of the network using thematic analysis. Design/methodology/approach A total of 8,181 students between the ages of 8 and 14 years in 303 classes from 257 schools participated in the program. These classes composed 303 ethical codes, which were decomposed into 2,201 elements. Using mixed-methods research combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies, the elements of the ethical codes were analyzed, interpreted, and classified to identify the dominant themes and discourses used by the students when addressing issues related to safe online use. Findings Findings indicate that Israeli students are aware of the dangers and risks of the internet, and these concerns are reflected in their own ethical codes. The students discouraged online self-exposure and encouraged precautions and wariness towards members of out-groups. The themes included sentences which asked for responsible, appropriate, and lawful use, expressed concern about privacy issues, and stated the need for adult involvement. Most of them reflected an “us against them ” perspective. Originality/value The current study presents an innovative “bottom-up” program based on wisdom of the crowd approach, that can be implemented in schools internationally in order to encourage reflexivity and teach children the necessary skills for safe online experiences. In addition, this study analyses the school children’s own views of the dangers of social media and learn about their perspective and understanding of internet use.

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Privacy in New Media in Israel.Yuval Karniel & Amit Lavie-Dinur - 2012 - Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society 10 (4):288-304.

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