TCD forum to explore impact of internet on child development and bullying

10 Apr 2014 | 0 Comment(s)

Cyberbullying causes distress in children, teenagers and adults

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The impact of the internet on child development and privacy and the growing issue of cyberbullying are among key issues to be debated at a CyberEthics Public Forum taking place in Trinity College Dublin next Monday, 14 April. The event is being hosted by Trinity Long Room Hub, the University’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute,

The rapid growth of cyber technologies and the profound influence of the internet on human behaviour form the backdrop to the forum, which has been organised as part of Trinity’s President of Ireland's Ethics Initiative. The event will hear from experts from the fields of education, law and psychology on the many complex issues associated with society’s reliance on the cyberspace for communications, business and entertainment.

The event is free and open to the public and takes place on Monday, 14 April at 6pm in the Stanley Quek Hall, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College.

Speakers at the event include internationally renowned cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, from the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre, whose work as a cyberpsychologist has inspired a new CSI: Crime Scene Investigation spin-off pilot currently being developed by US television network CBS.

Speaking in advance of the event, Ms Aiken said that 2.7 billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s current population, are now online. “Whilst the internet provides opportunities for young people to learn, communicate, share and socialise, it also poses risks. In the real world parents and caregivers decide what is suitable for children, whereas in cyberspace artificial intelligence would appear to be in charge,” she said.

Dr Conor Mc Guckin, Assistant Professor in Education in Trinity, will address the issue of cyberbullying and focus on how to help children, adults and educators deal with both positive and negative issues associated with new technology.

“To understand cyberbullying, we need to understand the fundamental characteristics of traditional bullying,” said Dr McGuckin. “But we also need to understand the separate and thorny issues that are related to the law, technology, marketing, and the modern lives of children and young people. We generally tend to consider traditional bullying and cyberbullying as ‘old wine in new bottles’. But we must also consider to what extent will old approaches work with this new form of bullying and what do we as a society need to consider in terms of helping young people make ethical decisions when engaging in new post-modern relationships.”

Dr Eoin O’Dell, Associate Professor in Law at Trinity, will examine the challenges the internet poses for legal, philosophical and ethical conceptions of privacy. He will particularly focus on the issue of State gathering of data and surveillance, personal data held by large private companies and personal sharing on social media.

Dr O’Dell explained: “We are told that sharing is caring, but in the age of social media, where we share every last detail of our lives, are we really caring for our right to privacy – or do we need to re-assess our legal conceptions of privacy and develop a new ethical framework for sharing online?”


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