Dark side of information systems and protection of children online: examining predatory behavior and victimization of children within social media

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Connie S. Albert (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
A.F. Salam

Abstract: Protecting children online from sexual predators has been a focus of research in psychiatry, sociology, computer science, and information systems (IS) for many years. However, the anonymity afforded by social media has made finding a solution to the problem of child protection difficult. Pedophiles manipulate conversation (discourse) with children in social media in order to exercise power, control and coercion over children leading to their psychological and often physical victimization. Recent IS research points to "individuals, groups, and organizations that have been transformed - in intended and unintended ways - by technology" (Dang and Brown 2010, p. 2). This research examines a darker side of social media that demonstrates unintended consequences that are negatively transforming and affecting lives of children who fall victim to predatory coercion. There is a critical need for information systems research to investigate and understand how sexual predators victimize children online. The knowledge gained could help society as a whole to develop interventions to better protect children online, enabling them to use valuable online resources for education, social development and becoming better citizens in the future. In this context, this dissertation contributes to the larger research narrative of information systems and critical social issues. This dissertation comprises three studies. Study 1 addresses how online sexual predators use social media, as a discursive system, to propagate their ideology of acceptance of sexual acts between adults and children. Study 2 addresses how online sexual predators use and manipulate the text of institutional logics within negotiated cyber-social realities to victimize children. Study 3 examines how online sexual predators use text to construct and control negotiated cyber-social realities during the online victimization of children. Across these three studies we examined how online sexual predators used computer-mediated communications to coerce and victimize children within social media. This research introduces: (1) critical discourse analysis in information systems research to critically examine the role of social media in society, (2) an example of a mixed methods research combining critical discourse analysis, structured content analysis and grounded theory approach for the development of theory in social media and, (3) the use of institutional logics to examine social media phenomena. The central contribution of this dissertation is the development of theoretical models that uncover ways in which power relations and effects of pedophilic ideology are manifested in language and discourse between pedophiles and children in social media. The resulting theoretical models of: (1) pedophilic ideology manifestation, coercion and victimization of children in social media, (2) cyber-victimization logic and, (3) negotiated cyber-social realities provide the foundation for further research, social intervention and policy formulation that lead to better protection of children in social media. Additionally, we present a matrix of predatory coercion and victimization of children within social media that aggregates the results of all three studies. This dissertation aims to contribute beyond the traditional focus of IS research on business and organizations, leveraging the wealth of knowledge from IS research to positively impact societal causes that affect the lives of millions of our fellow citizens - in this particular research - millions of children that are the most vulnerable population in our society. These contributions aim to empower the powerless and expose power abuse as expressed in coercion of children leading to their victimization.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Institutional logic, Online predator, Online victimization, Protecting children online, Social media, Victimization logic
Internet and children $x Safety measures
Online sexual predators
Online social networks

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