Online Violence: Listening to Children's Online Experiences

Online Violence: Listening to Children's Online Experiences

Teresa Sofia Pereira Dias de Castro (University of Minho, Portugal) and António José Osório (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6324-4.ch003
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The Internet imprints a great complexity to new and old risks as threats become more available in children's lives. Criminals have greater access to the victims and Internet crimes are favoured by ambiguities in the law. This chapter presents preliminary data from an on-going doctoral investigation about the upsetting phenomenon of violence perpetrated by, with, and among school-aged children using online services and devices. To better understand the subjectivity, delicacy, and complexity of matters and meanings that participants bring to their online experiences, the authors follow a qualitative approach, based on a structured and interpretive analysis. They work with a group of children aged between 6 and 15 years old. With this chapter, the authors intend to contribute to a greater understanding and reflection about this complex problem and its impact in order to increase awareness about how children behave online and in what way it may influence their well-being.
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When Risk Lives In The Child’S Pocket

In a world saturated with attractive possibilities enabled by the online digital technologies, and where time is money, we don’t get all that surprised when we find parents using digital devices to entertain their children, while they keep on distracted or worried with their busy lives. We often observe this picture, in gatherings with couples, in restaurants or malls. Though imagined, designed and built by adults, technologies, that favour the interaction and communication between people, won the attention of children and young people through the last decades, taking a central role in their daily life (Huesmann, 2007).

Interesting is that society seems to accept that these digital devices babysit children but then get all surprised and suspicious when young people choose the computer instead of having fun outdoors, or when they use the online devices to: i) talk with strangers; ii) learn about sex; iii) involve in sexual experiments; iv) engage in self-harm practices or unhealthy eating behaviours1; or v) harass others. The so-called ‘digital natives’ or ‘net generation’ are growing in a wired rapidly changing, complex and ambiguous world and their digital trends reinforce the generation gap between adults and children. Therefore, despite entitling themselves experts in digital matters (Ponte & Cardoso, 2008), we are not all that sure they are using the online digital opportunities wisely. But, certainly they are using them differently.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Online Experiences: How children behave and interact on the Internet alone or with others.

Online Risks: Online experiences that can harm of threats children’s safety and well-being.

Online Violence: The use of online digital devices or services to engage in activities that result in physical, psychological, emotional self-harm or cause harm to another person.

Child-Centred Research: A research model approach based in children’s voice and point of view about topics that concern their best interest.

Children: A person younger than the age of majority (as it is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Sexting: Sending, distributing or receiving sexual and/or erotic texts, images or videos.

Facebook: A popular online social networking service.

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