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CyberEthics Event Examines Influence of Internet on Human Behaviour

News feed for Trinity College Dublin.

Apr 15, 2014

The impact of the internet on child development and privacy and the growing issue of cyberbullying were among key issues debated at a CyberEthics Public Forum in Trinity College Dublin recently.

The rapid growth of cyber technologies and the profound influence of the internet on human behaviour formed the backdrop to the public form, which was organised as part of Trinity's contribution to the President of Ireland's Ethics Initiative.  The event, hosted by Trinity Long Room Hub, the University’s Arts and Humanities Research Institute, heard from experts from the fields of education, law and psychology who addressed the many complex issues associated with our massive reliance on the cyberspace for communications, business and entertainment.

Speakers at the event included cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, from the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre. She focused on the profound impact of the internet on young people.

Dr Conor Mc Guckin, Assistant Professor in Education in Trinity, Mary Aiken, from the RCSI CyberPsychology Research Centre and Dr Eoin O’Dell, Associate Professor in Law at Trinity

Mary Aiken commented: "2.7 billion people, almost 40% 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.”

Dr Conor Mc Guckin, Assistant Professor in Education in Trinity, addressed the issue of cyberbullying and focused on how to help children, adults, and educators ‘cope' with the both positive and negative issues that new technology brings.

Dr Conor Mc Guckin explained: “To understand cyberbullying, we need to understand the fundamental characteristics of traditional bullying. 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, explored the significant challenges the internet poses for our legal, philosophical and ethical conceptions of privacy. He focused 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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Media Contact:

Fiona Tyrrell, Press Officer for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Trinity College Dublin | | + 353 87 6169056



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| | Last updated: April 22, 2014