Lund team to look at how internet affects youth morals

Lund team to look at how internet affects youth morals
Researchers at Lund University plan to work with The Pirate Bay and MySpace to learn more about how the internet affects the way Swedish teens build their norms and values.

“We’re going to try to see if there are social patterns which legislation and state powers normally don’t see and don’t address,” said Måns Svensson from Lund University’s department of sociology of law to the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

The research project will consist largely of in-depth interviews with ninth graders from Lund conducted over the course of four years.

Svensson and his colleagues will ask students about their attitudes and habits when it comes to activities such as file sharing, putting pictures on the internet, and playing internet poker.

In order to help them with their project, the researchers have been in touch with The Pirate Bay file sharing site, the social networking website MySpace, as well as the Swedish Poker Association (Svenska Pokerförbundet).

“We have a theory that there are processes for building norms on the internet which look different than those which take place in traditional society and that they are moving in a different direction than where the majority of society and legislation are headed,” said Svensson.

Specifically, Svensson suspects that the internet affects how young people develop their views on ownership rights, privacy, and the handling of money.

“This can be a problem for the law when you have a young, growing generation which creates its morals and norms through contact with these types of activities on the internet and a set of laws which doesn’t really comprehend what’s new and which risks heading off course in its attempt to regulate them” said Svensson.

Current plans for the research project also include comparing norm building processes in other European countries, as well as a looking at differences in how countries in Europe and the United States have attempted to regulate various internet-based subcultures.

In addition to the university and the Lund municipality schools’ administration, the project also includes the participation of Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson AB.

Partial funding for the project comes from a 4.7 million kronor ($588,000) grant from the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen).