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Ethical Ramifications of New Communication Technologies

Compare and Contrast the Ethical Ramifications of New Communication Technologies in Two Texts for Young Adults

New communication technologies have a great impact on young adults. Compared to early days where the young adults had to spend much of their time having face-to-face interactions, communication has been made easier in this modern era. The technologies available have made the communication process easier, since people living in different places can communicate without having to travel. The young adults have a chance to work online by either creating content, producing music among others. The new digital media has everything for everyone, video games for gamers, applications to download music and videos, ways to create content, social media among others. While these technologies are important and beneficial to young adults, they also have negative consequences, with most of the young adults turning to be unethical.

The first text in this analysis is “Morality and ethics behind the screen: Young people’s perspective on digital life,” a journal written by Andrea Flores and Carrie James. A research by these two authors seeks to understand the consequences of new digital media and how it influences the ethical conducts of the young adults. They deal with different kinds of thinking concerning new digital media and the ethical implications of such kinds of thinking.

The second text in this review is “Young people, ethics, and digital media,” a report by Carrie James. The report seeks to investigate ethical implications of the new communication technologies. It also looks for a way to promote ethical conduct in this digital era. The report addresses six key issues; ownership, identity, privacy, credibility, authorship, and participation. The report addresses how these issues are handled offline and online.

Parents and older generation are expressing concern about how their children and the youth in general spend most of their time online. Most of these older generation people see digital media as a tool meant to corrupt the moral and ethics of this generation. While it is true that digital media has its disadvantages, it also has its advantages. Both texts give examples of young people who use the social networks in a responsible manner. On the morality and ethics journal, Trey is a 15 year old boy who edits Wikipedia so that other people may not get the wrong information. He does it, bearing in mind that if it was him, he wouldn’t like to get the wrong information on Wikipedia or any other website Flores & James, 2013). The report Carrie James gives benefits of new digital media on every key issue addressed in their journal.

The report by Carrie James and Andrea Flores mainly lies in the kinds of thinking, which are: consequence thinking, moral thinking and ethical thinking. Consequential thinking mainly focuses on oneself. A young adult will care mainly about the effects his online actions will have on him/her. For example, one may avoid giving personal information on social media in order to avoid bullying or other issue affecting him. A youth may download a video in some illegal websites, not worrying about piracy, but only worrying about whether he will get caught or not (Flores & James, 2013). Moral thinking is a kind of thinking where a young adult cares about how his actions will affect someone closer to him, either a relative or friend. For instance, Trey, a gamer, chooses to treat his opponents with respect, just the same way he would do if the interaction was offline. Ethical thinking is a kind of thinking where a young adult is aware of the consequences of his actions, not just to himself and those close to him, but also to the whole community at large (Flores & James, 2013). The report argues that while most young adults are consequential thinkers, few of them are ethical thinkers and actually care about others. The report ascertains that most young adults using the new communication technologies put their interests first, which can be taken to mean that most young adults have been impacted negatively by the new communications technologies.

While the first report deals with thinking, the second report by Carrie James (2009) focusses on main issues affecting a young adult and how they deal with them offline and online. Identity is one of the issues discussed. Youth can change their identity on social networks, in a bid to look younger, richer, more beautiful or more mature. While changing their identity can help overcome self-esteem issues, one may feel frustrated if he cannot match his offline and online identity. This also makes young adults to lose confidence and always rely on feedback from others on how they look like (James, 2009). The identity issue has also seen many young people try to change their status online in order to seem to belong to a certain class. While it is possible to change your identity offline, for example by changing your wardrobe or hairstyle, the new digital media takes this issue to a whole new level. One can pretend to be someone they are not in order to interact with people of a higher class or standards. While this may make one feel good about them for a short while, it doesn’t offer a lasting effect since feelings of deception will always haunt them (James, 2009).

While the first report seeks to help understand how young people think, the second report seeks to understand ethical behavior of the youth and provide useful information on how the new communication technologies can be used to change the ethical behavior of the youths for the better and actually benefit the youths (James, 2009). The report deals with concepts that have been redefined in the new digital media, and how the young people handle themselves in some situations. For example, when one is faced with a plagiarism offense, he/she should cite the article used correctly to avoid getting penalized.

Both reports seek to explain the impact of new communications technologies, first to oneself, to friends and family and to the community at large. The communication technologies that have been invented affect not just the young people but also everyone around them. The first report shows that young people make decisions mainly based on their interests (Flores & James). However, ethical thinkers think of other people also while making some decisions. For example, if an employee wants to post something of Facebook, he/she should think of the effect that post will have on the company he works for before posting it. If it is something damaging, then he should not post it. The second report also explains that any decision a young person makes is likely to affect other people.

Another issue discussed in both reports is privacy. The report by Andrea Flore and Carrie James covers an interview with some young adults. Most of the interviewed youths affirm that they fail to post personal issues online, either to avoid criticism or to avoid hurting their loved ones. According to the report, Rosie, an 18 old girl chose not to post any nude photos of herself on Facebook to avoid being criticized by others, while athletes would not post photos containing anything to do with alcohol to avoid being taken out of their teams (Flores & James, 2013). These young adults choose not to post anything that might have a negative effect on them or their loved ones. Others would choose to change settings may be on the Facebook or Instagram accounts, to limit the number of people who can see their posts. This is especially done by those young adults who don’t want their families to see their posts online. Some might even to an extent of creating two accounts, one with a fake name where they can freely express themselves. The second report also talks about privacy. The report gives a story of Sofia, a blogger who owns a blog where she records her most personal information, under a different name. When her identity was revealed, most of her friends mentioned in the blog get mad at her. She is left hurt by the fact that a large number of people have read her most intimate thoughts (James, 2009). The repot explains that while the modern generation understands what privacy is, they believe that it is not about keeping their personal information to themselves as older generations did. To them, privacy means controlling who sees certain information and in what manner. Still, some young adults choose not to hide any information they put up on their social networks, thinking that only their closest friends will access it. This means that even though they know that it is ethical to keep personal information personal, they choose not to act on it (Flores & James, 2013). Such kind of young adults choose to be unethical, since their actions can affect not just them but other people as well.

Roles and responsibilities is also another issue that is addressed by both reports. The first report tackles the issue as a form of thinking under the ethical thinking. This is kind of thinking where the young adults understand what is expected of them and actually deliver. It is a kind of thinking where a youth may feel accountable towards someone or something. The report gives a story of Carlos who stopped relying on illegal downloading after he realized the effect it had on fellow musicians. As much as illegal downloading helped expose his music, he realized that piracy was one of the issues affecting musicians and he decided to be accountable to the music industry (Flores & James, 2013). Roles and responsibilities thinkers put up information on their social networks, keeping in mind the people they work with or the people they work with. Such thinkers have an ethical conduct of the highest degree, not just online but also when offline. The second report explains that responsibility towards others is a key ingredient in ethical conduct. A person who is ethical is responsible towards other people (James, 2009). Young adults in this modern age can take up responsibilities even on their social networks by being game players, responsible citizens, and online community members among others.

The first report clearly explains that while most of the young adults understand the effect their actions are going to have on others, they do nothing about it. Most young adults will download music and videos illegally even if they know that it is wrong (Flores & James, 2013). Such youths know that they are hurting musicians and also that they are breaking the law. However, that doesn’t concern them and they go feign ignorance. Students are also notorious for plagiarizing work, instead of crediting the writers who have worked hard on the articles they use. In older days, it was difficult to see someone copy something straight from the book and present it to the teacher. However, the new communication technologies have made it easy for students to just copy-paste someone’s work. They plagiarize it, knowing too well its illegal, but not caring much about it. The second report, however, differs from the first report by saying that these young adults do not understand the effects of their online actions (James, 2009). Campaigns have been done, especially on social networks, educating young people on issues such as piracy, plagiarism, illegal downloading, among others. While some of the young people decide to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and be accountable, some ignore these rules and continue doing whatever is wrong as long as it benefits them.

The second report explains that it is possible to take up a ‘good play’ approach (James, 2009). That is, young adults can enjoy a meaningful online experience while still being responsible towards others. One can quote a phrase from an article and cite it, to give credit to the author. A young adult can share his/her life with some people by making sure that the information does not fall into the wrong hands. This can be done by disclosing the information only to the relevant people. Social networks have privacy settings, which young adults can change according to their needs.

Problems that come up with the new communication technologies include cyber-bullying, plagiarism, sex predators among others (James, 2009). Some older generation people believe that the new digital media have only added problems to this modern age. Some of these allegations are true since, for instance, video games are associated with violent behavior, and social networks also help spread malicious news among others things. However, young people can be taught ethical principles for them to develop moral conduct. Learning these principles alone is not enough. Young adults should be given freedom so that they can face troubles and learn how to overcome them (Flores & James, 2013). Someone who downloads files illegally, only for his account to be closed by authorities will hardly repeat the same mistake again.

In brief, if not handled correctly, problems associated with new digital media can easily cause social problems in the society. Such problems can also cause divisions, especially between tech-savvy people and those people who are not so good with technology. Young people need to be responsible in handling the new communication technologies to ensure that these technologies are helpful but not harmful. The older generation also ought to be involved in teaching the young adults about ethical conduct. The new communication technologies have changed the way things were done before. The meaning of many things has also changed. The new digital media have redefined concepts such as identity, credibility, ownership, privacy among others. In the modern era, privacy does not mean keeping personal information to oneself. It means disclosing the information only to a certain group of people.


Flores, A., & James, C. (11 Sep, 2013). Morality and ethics behind the screens: young people’s perspectives on digital life. Sage. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from

James, C. (2009) Young people, ethics and the new digital media. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from,