By Carrie James, Katie Davis, Andrea Flores, John M. Francis, Lindsay Pettingill, Margaret Rundle, Howard Gardner
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Additional resources for Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis From the Good Play Project
34 Constant connectivity can also permit relentless, around-the-clock bullying. 35 Yet these same qualities can pose problems because the lack of tone leaves status updates, tweets, and comments subject to misinterpretation. One of the most salient qualities of digital communication in relation to the focus of this book is the distance that our phones, tablets, and computers place between us. When we communicate largely by screen, asynchronously, using text, we may feel quite removed from the individuals to whom our messages and content are directed; the other, incidental audiences for what we share may not even occur to us.
The conceptual distinction between morality and ethics that I’ve laid out here is utilized throughout the book. When I use the word moral, I am referring to a disposition to care, to show empathy, or to engage a principle in one’s interactions with a known individual or a small group. When I use the word ethical, I am suggesting a more abstract consideration of the effects of one’s actions on a wider, often distant, community or public. This distinction is apt because it highlights an important challenge of the digital age: the comments, memories, and photos we share with our nearest and dearest are also often visible to a wider community of less dear friends and peers and perhaps even strangers.
42 Psychologist Jean Twenge’s body of work, including her provocatively titled books, Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic, suggests that individualistic personality traits have increased among young Americans in the 16 Chapter 1 last several decades. Sara Konrath’s studies on the extent of self-focused and other-focused dispositions among American college students have revealed recent declines in empathetic concern and perspective taking. 43 Related to this, we also see evidence of widespread, and perhaps growing, trends in unethical conduct.