The Ecology of Early Adolescents' Internet Mediated Sexual Interactions

The Ecology of Early Adolescents' Internet Mediated Sexual Interactions

Komalsingh Rambaree (University of Gävle, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch667
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Introduction

Early adolescents (11-14 years old) are normally considered to be no longer children, but not yet adults (World Health Organisation, 2003). Early adolescence is usually characterised as a period when sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological changes, begin to happen. LeCroy (2004) opines that early adolescence is a period of multiple, rapid, and profound changes and transitions. During early adolescence puberty increases body awareness, and may initiate the sex drive.

Historically, the academic focus on early adolescence as a critical and vital period emerged from a belief that during this particular phase young people are still innocent and with a potential which required cultivation, protection and guidance (Holloway & Valentine, 2003). In addition, there is also a common conviction among the general public that this particular nature of early adolescence must be controlled by responsible members of society; as young people at these ages are more likely to get involved in unconventional beliefs, behaviours and practices mainly coming through the persuasive influences of the media (Troen, 1985; Williams & Frith, 1993; Coleman & Hendry, 1999; Heins, 2001). It has often been argued that media1 represent some of the most under-recognized and most potent influences on adolescent’s development in modern society (Mastronardi, 2003; Strasburger, 2004; Lwin & Malik, 2012; Spurr, Berry & Walker, 2013; Vandenbosch, L. & Eggermont, 2013). In some cases, it has even been found that media have stronger influence on the early adolescents than family and other social relationships (Johnston, 2000).

In contemporary society early adolescents are in many ways the defining users of Internet (Subrahmanyam & Smahel, 2011; Rambaree, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010). It is also being argued that Internet, through its interactive multi-media interface, has created a new pattern and form of interaction that requires more involvement of early adolescents (Subrahmanyam & Smahel, 2011; Lwin & Malik, 2012; Vandenbosch, L. & Eggermont, 2013). Given the high frequency at which adolescents are using Internet-based technology, it is not surprising that that such interactions may not always be positive (Zweig, Dank, Yahner & Lachman, 2013). In fact, Internet and its relationship with early adolescents have been viewed from two different perspectives. The pessimistic view is that early adolescents become victims of the pervasive and powerful Internet; and, the optimistic view is that Internet contributes immensely towards empowering children and early adolescents and making them more creative and knowledgeable than ever before (United Nations, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Early Adolescents: Young people of ages 11-14 years. Early adolescence: a transition period between childhood and adulthood also characterised as a period when sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological changes begin to occur in humans.

Sexuality: Encompasses a variety of meanings such as sex as biology and activity; gender as social construct based on sex; and sexual orientation as sexual preference as well as many other aspects such as eroticism and pleasure.

Internet-Mediated Sexual Interactions: Use of the Internet for sexual activities and other purposes such as communications, informations and entertainments.

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