Mediating technology: How ICT influences the morality of the digital generation

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Bats, Jan; Valkenburg, Rianne; Verbeek, Peter-Paul
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands, The; 2: University of Twente, Netherlands, The
Page(s): 397-406
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


An increasingly important theme for ICT designers is in what way ICT interferes with moral reasoning. ICT has given us new possibilities and it has simplified our lives. However, it is also influencing our experiences and morality, especially with the young generation. In this article, we present an exploratory empirical study of the relation between morality and ICT among adolescents and young adults. Using focus groups and diary research we studied the perceived impact of ICT on their daily lives and their level of cognitive moral reasoning within ICT related situations. We observed, conform our theoretical outline, that when ICT is considered impersonal and does not strongly obstruct the own perception of freedom most of our respondents reasoned in a consequentialist and pre-conventional way. Simultaneously, when ICT mediates in personal relations and interferes more with the own perceived freedom, higher moral arguments were demonstrated. This was particularly the case with the older age group. They were better able to identify the impact of ICT on their lives. With these findings, suggestions for a design process that takes this influence on morality into account are offered.

Keywords: ICT, cognitive moral reasoning, theory driven design


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