Preadolescents' moral attitudes with respect to online privacy
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This research examines preadolescents’ (9-14 year olds) moral attitudes with respect to online privacy in social interactions on the Internet and the mediating role of age, gender identity and family culture herein. In particular, it investigates the interplay among these three mediating factors in order to get an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural contexts that shape the moral dimensions of young people’s online social interaction.
Media and communications scholars have argued that the “ethical complexity” (Jenkins, 2006) and ambiguity of much contemporary mediated culture (James, 2008; Silverstone, 2007), and computer-mediated social interaction specifically, growingly appeal to, foster and/or challenge (young) people’s moral identity construction. Moreover, research evidence points to the attitude-behaviour paradox with respect to online privacy and suggests that privacy concerns in online social interaction can differ significantly across different groups and depending on the type of online social interaction, without necessarily impacting on their actual behaviours (Acquisti and Grossklags, 2004; Debatin et al. 2009; Norberg et al. 2007).
This research builds on a qualitative methodological design that makes use of the methods of interviewing, observation, and visual and participatory probing. It takes into account the various methodological challenges and ethical issues related to researching families and children.
In focusing on (1) moral attitudes with respect to online privacy, (2) young people’s moral engagement with Internet use and (3) an age group in which both Internet use and moral competences increasingly develop, this research proposal contributes to the field of research on young people and the Internet.

Partners: Lien Mostmans (doctoral researcher) prof. dr. Joke Bauwens (promotor) and prof. dr. Jo Pierson (co-promotor)